PM declares "victory" in Kosovo army dispute with Pristina

It has been confirmed in a telephone conversation between the Serbian PM and the NATO chief that the military alliance opposes the formation of a Kosovo army.

Source: B92, RTS
(Tanjug, file)
(Tanjug, file)

Serbia's state broadcaster RTS reported this late on Wednesday.

Jens Stoltenberg also told Aleksandar Vucic that NATO had officially warned Pristina that the organization is opposed to the formation of an army in Kosovo, something announced in recent days by Kosovo President Hashim Thaci.

Vucic thanked Stoltenberg "for such a reaction" and said that "Serbia will do everything to preserve peace and stability," RTS learned.

"When I finished talking with Stoltenberg, I almost cried tears of joy. We have worked to change the image of Serbia, we would succeed a little, and today I experienced Stoltenberg saying to me - 'thank you Aleksandar for preserving peace and stability, thanks for the patience'," Vucic, who is a candidate in the April 2 presidential elections, told a campaign rally in Jagodina the same evening.

Vucic said this was "a victory of Serbia after many years."

"It is not our victory is that someone else won't be able to do something, but because finally the fact that Serbia knew how to fight for peace and stability is respected, that we did not take anything belonging to others, but won't give up our own, the victory is in Serbia and our people not being the last pariah, not always to blame for everything, that Serbia is respected in the world," said Vucic.

Earlier in the day, Vucic said he was "very satisfied with the US and NATO reactions" noting US officials had told him they were against such developments.

"The Americans are not always easy to talk to, but you know where you stand. They told me immediately, making no secret of anything, that they are against such a development, and a Kosovo armed force (being established) in this way, which is extra-constitutional and extra-institutional," Vucic told reporters in Jagodina, Tanjug reported.

On Wednesday evening, Hashim Thaci said in a statement after his phone conversation with Stoltenberg that "the transformation of the KSF will be done step by step, in a coordinated manner and in accordance with the Constitution and laws of Kosovo."

"In conversation with the Secretary Stoltenberg I stressed once again that the efforts and aspirations of Kosovo for KSF to be transformed into the Army of Kosovo are well known to our international partners. I also added that for three years now we are trying to persuade Serbs to be part of the process and support the establishment of the Army of Kosovo. However, they have stated that they will never vote, and they are directly orchestrated by Serbia - Belgrade," Thaci said in the statement posted on the website of the president of Kosovo, that added:

"I told Secretary Stoltenberg that we would like the transformation of KSF be done through constitutional amendments, but this however proves to be impossible due to Serbs being directly orchestrated by Serbia and if the international community would provide guarantees that the Serbs will vote for constitutional amendments, then we would be willing to wait for them. However, we will not remain hostage to Serbia’s political will."

"I also told the NATO Secretary General that the KSF will continue to remain the same, but will have new powers and new mission and asked that NATO continue cooperation with the KSF," Thaci announced.

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