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News 04 Mar 14

Kosovo to Have Armed Forces by 2019

The government has decided to transform the Kosovo Security Force into a regular armed forces over the next five years, though officials hesitate to call it a future 'army'.

Edona Peci

The Kosovo government has said the Kosovo Security Forces “will change its mission, duties and structure, while the ministry of the Security Forces will be transformed into the Ministry of Defence" on Tuesday.

Agim Ceku, the Security Forces Minister said the mission of the Kosovo Armed Forces will be "to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Kosovo, its people and their property and protect the interests of the Kosovo Republic”.

The current lightly armed Security Force replaced the Kosovo Protection Corps, KPC, in January 2009. The territory's first quasi-military body was launched at the beginning of 2009, while it became fully operational in 2013.

Its mission is to conduct crisis response operations in Kosovo and abroad; civil protection operations within Kosovo; and to assist the civil authorities in responding to natural disasters and other emergencies.

The KSF has 2,500 lightly armed active soldiers and 800 reservists.

Ceku announced that the Kosovo Armed Forces will comprise 5,000 active soldiers and 3,000 reservists once transformation is completed in 2019.

“As of next year, we need 5 more million euro each year over the upcoming five years [to complete the transformation]," he said.

"For these forces to operate successfully we need an increased budget of up to 65 million euro, some 20 million euro more than the current budget of 42 million euro,” he said.

To the annoyance of nationalists, the government has, however, so far declined to call the new force an “army”.

Rexhep Selimi, a lawmaker from the opposition Vetevendosje movement, said “the insistence on avoiding use of the word ‘army’ makes one wonder”.

“The use of terminology is important in this segment. However, it will be important to see what these Armed Forces are and what its mandate will be,” he added.

The decision to establish the Kosovo Armed Forces must first be approved by the parliament before entering into force.

The smallest army in the region is currently that of Montenegro, which has only 2,094 soldiers on active duty. The Serbian army comprises some 33,000 active soldiers.

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