Kosovo’s parliament is expected to pass legislation today to turn the Kosovo Security Force (KSF)—currently a paramilitary organisation—into a national army.
Pristina has stated the creation of a national army will consolidate Kosovo’s statehood, although the new force is likely to simply assume the same duties already performed by the KSF. One point of difference will be personnel numbers—the “national army” will increase troop numbers to 5,000–– up from 4,000––and add 3,000 reservists.
The move will increase already heightened tensions with neighbouring Serbia, which does not recognise Kosovo’s independence. The long-time rivals have found themselves at loggerheads once more in the past month after Kosovo imposed tariffs on 100% of Serbian imports—a retaliation for Belgrade’s lobbying to block Pristina from joining Interpol.
While the decision to build a national army may appease Kosovo’s nationalists over the short-term, it may harm the country’s long-term interests. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the move will jeopardise Kosovo’s prospects of joining the alliance, while Kosovan membership of the EU is dependent on normalising relations with Serbia— the prospects of which look bleak if today’s legislation is passed.
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Alex is a senior analyst in the Current Developments team with a primary focus on the Americas. He also serves as an editor on The Daily Brief.