NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has stated that the decision to adopt three laws initiating the transition of the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) to Kosovo Armed Forces were made despite concerns expressed by the Alliance and that he “regrets that decision”.
“While the transition of the KSF is in principle a matter for Kosovo to decide, we have made clear that this move is ill-timed. NATO supports the development of the KSF under its current mandate. With the change of mandate, the North Atlantic Council will now have to re-examine the level of NATO’s engagement with the KSF”, Stoltenberg said.
He has also added that NATO will remain committed to a safe and secure environment in Kosovo and the stability in the wider Western Balkans through KFOR.
Stoltenberg has also called on both sides to show restraint and not to further increase tensions in the region.
“All responsible political actors in the region need to focus on progress with reforms, and on dialogue… NATO continues to support the EU-sponsored dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina as the only lasting political solution for the region”, Stoltenberg concluded.
His Deputy, Rose Gottemoeller, has reiterated this position and has stated that the transformation of the Kosovo Security Forces into a military could have negative consequences for the integration of Kosovo in NATO.
At a today’s joint press conference in Tirana with Albania’s Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati, she reiterated that NATO would consider the level of its engagement with the KSF, if the mandate of these forces evolves.
United States’ Embassy in Pristina has conveyed that USA supports the gradual transition of the Kosovo Security Force to a force with a territorial defense mandate, but also that today’s vote in the Kosovo Assembly will bring “no immediate change to the structure, mission, or operations of the force”
“Rather, they represent the beginning of the practical, ongoing work of building a transparent, multi-ethnic, NATO-interoperable force that serves all of Kosovo’s communities, in accordance with the Government of Kosovo’s 10-year transition plan”, underlines Embassy’s press-release.
USA has called on the Government of Kosovo to continue its close coordination with NATO allies and partners and to engage in outreach to minority communities now and throughout the years-long process ahead.
“We expect existing arrangements with KFOR concerning movements and operations of forces in Kosovo will continue. All stakeholders within and outside Kosovo should support and encourage citizens of Kosovo’s minority communities to participate in its security forces, for the benefit of their own communities and of the country. The US is committed to working with the KSF to promote its professional development and organizational evolution”, press release concluded.