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Russia’s OSCE envoy urges Kosovo to reverse its decision on creating army

Full-fledged armed forces in Kosovo will seriously increase the possibility of another violent conflict in the region, Alexander Lukashevich said
Russia's OSCE envoy Alexander Lukashevich Mikhail Metzel/TASS
Russia's OSCE envoy Alexander Lukashevich
© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

VIENNA, December 21. /TASS/. Pristina’s decision to transform the Kosovo security forces into armed forces is unlawful and must be cancelled, Russia’s envoy to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has said.

"We are convinced that the unlawful decision of the Pristina government, which, by the way, contradicts even the constitution of Kosovo, must be cancelled immediately. We call on Pristina’s Western sponsors to press for it. If plans to create the so-called Kosovo army are put into practice, then, in line with provision 9b of the UN Security Council Resolution 1244, the Kosovo Force must take immediate and sufficient action to demilitarize and dissolve any armed Kosovo-Albanian groups," Russia’s OSCE envoy Alexander Lukashevich told a session of the organization’s Permanent Council in Vienna.

He said Russia shared Serbia’s concerns about the move.

"The package of bills on transforming the Kosovo security forces into the "armed forces," adopted by the Assembly of Kosovo on December 14, is a blatant violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1244, and poses a threat to peace and stability in Western Balkans," the Russian diplomat continued. "The creation of the "Kosovo army" undermines the longstanding international effort to settle the Kosovo issue and makes a political compromise between Belgrade and Pristina on a mutually acceptable basis impossible."

He added that the creation of full-fledged armed forces in Kosovo will seriously increase the possibility of another violent conflict in the region.

"Hostile anti-Serbian statements of the Kosovo-Albanian government, routine operations of Kosovo’s special police units in Serb-populated areas in the north of the region leave little doubt against whom the 'Army of Kosovo' will be created. This is a yet another episode to intimidate Kosovo Serbs, which is taking place in the context of ethnic purges," he said.

"It is quite evident that the new provocation by the Pristina government was incited by irresponsible patronage of the United States and the European Union. Washington supported the creation of the 'armed forces' of Kosovo, traditionally ignoring its international legal commitments and the opinion of many of its NATO allies," Lukashevich added.

He went on to say that Russia was disappointed by the European Union’s "ill-defined stance."

"The fact that Brussels is poised to keep turning a blind eye to any violation of the international law and agreements with Serbia is becoming more and more evident. This completely discredits the mediating efforts of the European Union, who bears a significant share of responsibility not only for the deadlock in the process of normalizing relations between Belgrade and Pristina, but also for possible consequences of Kosovo militarization. In fact, we are now witnessing a total failure of EU’s efforts as a mediator," Lukashevich continued.

"The Kosovo precedent… certainly will have a dangerous effect on situation in other zones of conflict. Now matter how hard Pristina’s sponsors will try, Kosovo will never become a ‘special case,’" he said.

On December 14, the parliament of the self-proclaimed republic of Kosovo voted for three bills: on creating a ministry of defense, on converting the security forces into an army and on service in Kosovo’s security force. All those present voted for. Nobody abstained. All of the parliament’s members from the Serbian party Serb List staged a walkout and did not participate in the voting. It is expected that the army of the unrecognized territorial entity will consist of 5,000 officers and men. Another 3,000 will be in reserve. The army will cost an annual 98 million euro to support.

Kosovo’s armed forces will have artillery and air defense units and also biological and chemical protection forces. The commander of Kosovo’s Security Force Rahman Rama said on Friday the army would perform its functions in the whole territory of Kosovo, including the northern areas with the predominant Serbian population.