Kosovo's prime minister says new army will serve world peace
By BY SYLEJMAN KLLOKOQI AND LLAZAR SEMINI
PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) - Kosovo's prime minister said Monday that the army the country expects to have soon will be a modest contributor to creating world peace.
Kosovo's lawmakers will vote Friday on three laws that would transform the national security force into a regular army. The measures are expected to easily pass the 120-member parliament.
Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said that the transformation would make Kosovo a provider, not only a beneficiary, of peace.
"You cannot be safe and secure, you can't help peace and stability of the world without being in peace yourself, having your own army," Haradinaj told The Associated Press.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a move Serbia doesn't recognize.
Serbia's president has said the new army could jeopardize regional stability and peace, and its prime minister also warned it could trigger an armed intervention.
Last year, Kosovo's president initiated the same thing but backed down after international pressure.
NATO and the U.S. asked that the transformation be made with constitutional amendments, which need the votes of the ethnic Serb minority to pass.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has warned Kosovo "that such a move is ill-timed, goes against the advice of many NATO allies."
He called on both Serbian and Kosovo officials to "show calm and restraint, and avoid any provocative statements or actions."
U.S. Ambassador Philip S. Kosnett said in an interview last week that the transformation would be "a long, sustainable process" and that it was most important "that as the armed forces are established - which again, is a long process_that it be multiethnic."
During the 1998-99 war for independence in Kosovo, Serbia's bloody crackdown on separatists prompted NATO to launch airstrikes to stop the conflict.
Kosovo's new army would have 5,000 troops and 3,000 reservists with a 98-million-euro ($111 million) annual budget. It will essentially be a security force handling crisis response and civil protection operations.
Llazar Semini reported from Tirana, Albania.
Follow Llazar Semini on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lsemini
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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