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President Thaci sends letter to NATO SG and member states on Kosovo Army (media)

By   /  14/03/2017  /  No Comments

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Most media report that Kosovo President Hashim Thaci has sent a letter to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and NATO member states on the eve of the NATO summit, explaining the process of the transformation of the Kosovo Security Force (KSF). The summit, among other issues, is also expected to discuss Thaci’s initiative to amend the law on the Kosovo Security Force. Thaci said Kosovo considers this transformation as a necessary constitutional step and as a sovereign right to establish a defence force that will protect Kosovo’s territorial integrity and contribute to peace and security in the region. Thaci said that as President of the Republic of Kosovo and as Supreme Commander of the KSF, he feels obliged to provide all the necessary legal and political arguments in favour of the transformation process in order to avoid any possible misunderstanding by NATO and its member states. Thaci said that in line with its Constitution, Kosovo established the Kosovo Security Force (2008-2009) – a national security force capable of protecting its citizens and communities based on the competencies foreseen in a specific law on the KSF. According to Thaci, the law provides that the KSF is a security instrument that supports the Government of the Republic of Kosovo and helps civilian authorities in the event of natural disasters and other emergencies. “According to the existing law, the KSF is allowed to bear light weapons and is not allowed to bear heavy arms. KSF members are recruited and trained by NATO, which continues to support its continuous development through advice, training and capacity building. The KSF is a voluntary, professional and multi-ethnic force,” Thaci wrote in his letter. In his second point, Thaci said that the Republic of Kosovo, as a sovereign state, is serious about its responsibility to provide security for its citizens and territory. “Thirdly, we always knew that this transformation was not going to be an easy process, both due to the internal political situation but also because of the foreign actors involved. However, we have remained determined to push the process forward, even to this day, in cooperation with our strategic partners, including NATO,” he added. Thaci mentioned two options to achieve this objective. “The legislation foresees constitutional amendments to change the name of the KSF into KAF [Kosovo Armed Forces] and to adopt a new law on KAF. This would be the best option. However, under the current political circumstances, it is practically impossible to undertake this enterprise because constitutional amendments require two third of the votes of Kosovo MPs. In addition to the two third of votes of all MPs, constitutional amendments also require two third of votes of all MPs that represent other communities living in Kosovo, including the Kosovo Serbs. Unfortunately, MPs representing the Kosovo Serbs are loyal only to Serbia and they have made it clear that they will vote against the legislation that is needed to establish KAF. At the same time, Serbia still sees Kosovo as part of its territory and will not advise Kosovo Serb MPs to vote in favour of this transformation process. Ultimately, this option is practically impossible because of Serbia’s veto”. The second option, according to Thaci, includes only amendments in the existing law on the KSF. This option would not require constitutional amendments and everything that needs to be done is to adopt a new draft law on the KSF that will change its mission. “According to this option, there is no need to change the existing name of the KSF and no need for constitutional amendments. As a result, this approach does not require two thirds of votes of all MPs and it also does not require two thirds of votes of MPs that represent non-Albanian communities living in Kosovo, including the Kosovo Serbs. The legislation can be adopted with a simple majority of votes of all MPs,” Thaci wrote. Thaci said that many things are changing throughout the world and that new actors want to expand their influence in the region too. He added that Kosovo wants to safeguard and promote good neighbourly relations with the aim of strengthening stability and trust between countries in the region. “Therefore, we remain strongly committed to the process of normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia. However, Serbia, with strong support from Russia, does not share the same objective of becoming a NATO member state. On the contrary, Serbia continues to have claims on Kosovo’s territory and is receiving increased weaponry from Russia, including Russian MiG-29 fighter jets. Kosovo’s national security is closely linked to regional and Euro-Atlantic security. In this respect, I am happy that none of our strategic partners, including NATO, do not question our sovereign right to act in this spirit. Our only difference is not about the final objective to transform the KSF, but rather with the approach or selected option to achieve this. Bearing this in mind, I have already stated publicly that we are willing to launch this transformation through option 1 if the conditions are met soon. Unfortunately, the facts and the position of the Kosovo Serb MPs remain unchanged as they continue to oppose the transformation of the KSF”. Thaci said that the position of the Kosovo Serb MPs reflects Serbia’s position on this matter. He added that this for reason, the legal initiative to transform the KSF needs to continue in line with the applicable legislation, rules and procedures and through a transparent and an inclusive process. Thaci reiterated that the transformation of the KSF should in no way be seen as a unilateral act. “It can be seen as such only if you say that Kosovo needs to get Serbia’s support for creating its own military defence force. I regret that in your capacity as NATO Secretary General, you have warned about possible consequences for the cooperation between KSF and NATO in the event of changes to the KSF mandate. I have taken this warning very seriously and I regret that you have made public these consequences immediately after the legal initiative. With the greatest respect for NATO and its member states, I must say that Kosovo is determined to conclude this process in transparent and inclusive fashion,” Thaci added. Thaci called on the NATO SG to take into account all the legal and political arguments explained briefly in the letter and to share them with NATO member states. Thaci called on NATO member states not to make efforts for possible consequences for the KSF as a result of this global transformation. “I call on all of you to support this process and to strengthen cooperation with the KSF because we have built this security force together through the years”.

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