Transforming KSF into army "internal affair" - NATO

A NATO spokeswoman has said that transforming the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) into an army was "an internal affair, up to the local institutions."

Source: Beta
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Asked by the Beta agency to disclose the stand of NATO regarding Wednesday's comments by Agim Ceku Oana Lungescu "pointed out that NATO is currently supporting the development of the Kosovo Security Force within their initial mission and mandate, through the recently established NATO advisory liaison team."

If the mandate and mission change, I expect the NATO Council to reconsider the level of NATO engagement, the spokeswoman said.

This was her "additional explanation" when asked about Priština's plans, and when the reporter remarked that according to UN Security Council Resolution 1244 that ended the 1999 war in Kosovo, the interim authorities could not form an army but only a security body tasked with civil defense duties.

According to Ceku, Priština's plan enjoys "strong support of international allies of Kosovo."

The Serbian authorities have stressed on several occasions that they fiercely oppose the transformation of the civil defense forces in Kosovo into a military force.

NATO advisors have been training the 2,500-strong Kosovo Security Force so far and, according to diplomatic sources in Brussels, the authorities in Priština intend to create an army of 5,000 soldiers.

Beta quoted "analysts from Kosovo" as stating in a U.S. German Marshall Fund report that FSK members were receiving military training, including handling of heavy artillery.

Before the latest announcements from Priština, NATO sources told Beta that the KSF was "envisaged and prepared for a number of security tasks, and trained in line with NATO standards."

The agency was told that NATO "expects the KSF to take responsibility for the functions it was trained for, and those are emergency situations, clearing of explosive devices, and civil defense."

It was recently said that the KSF had "complete operative capability."

Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga said that creating a Kosovo army was "one of the first tasks" right after forming the assembly and the government, while Serbs in Kosovo have warned it would represent a danger to the region.

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