06:06 GMT24 November 2020
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    The authorities of the self-proclaimed republic decided in October to change the mandate of the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) and transform it into a national army, despite criticism from NATO.

    Kosovo’s parliament has adopted three separate laws providing for the creation of a Kosovar army.

    "A total of 105 lawmakers present today have voted for [adopting the set of laws]", Kadri Veseli, the speaker of the Kosovar legislature, said.

    The session of the parliament was boycotted by the MPs that represent Serbian minority.

    Commenting on the vote, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned that the alliance to "re-examine" its role due to the reform, adding that Kosovo And Serbia should evade any further escalation of tensions.

    "I regret that this decision was made despite the concerns expressed by NATO. While the transition of the Kosovo Security Force 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 Kosovo Security Force 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 Kosovo Security Force", Stoltenberg said in a statement, published on NATO official website.

    READ MORE: Serbia Can Count on China's Support in Row With Kosovo — Envoy

    He voiced NATO commitment to "safe and secure" environment in Western Balkans.

    "All responsible political actors in the region need to focus on progress with reforms, and on dialogue. I reiterate my call on both Pristina and Belgrade to remain calm and refrain from any statements or actions which may lead to escalation. NATO continues to support the EU-sponsored dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina as the only lasting political solution for the region," Stoltenberg said.

    The forces will reportedly comprise a total of 8,000 people — 5,000 active duty soldiers and 3,000 reservists. The initiative to create a regular army was criticized by Serbia, while Jens Stoltenberg warned that such actions were "ill-timed".

    The decision comes amid the growing tensions between Pristina and Belgrade, as the self-proclaimed republic imposed 100 percent tariffs on goods imported from Serbia and from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    Kosovo unilaterally proclaimed its independence from Serbia in 2008 and was recognised by over a hundred UN member states. The move was not, however, recognized by Serbia and two permanent members of the UN Security Council — Russia and China.


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