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Uproar in Serbia as Kosovo announces formation of an army

SERBIAN Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic has demanded an urgent meeting of the United Nations security council in response to Kosovo’s decision today to establish an army.

A Kosovar army would be “the most direct threat to peace and stability in the region and to the security of the Serbian people,” Mr Dacic said.

Kosovo split from what was then Yugoslavia in 1999, after Nato intervened in support of the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army terror group with a massive 78-day bombardment of Serbian towns and cities. The breakaway province declared independence in 2008, but Serbia has never recognised this.

Serbia says that Kosovo possessing an army violates the terms of the UN resolution that ended the war and adds that it considers it an “illegal, occupying armed formation.” 

Serbs in Kosovo who join it will face legal action and Belgrade is not ruling out the use of military force, government official Marko Djuric said, although the latter option is unlikely as Kosovo is the base for 4,500 Nato “peacekeepers” led by US troops. Mr Djuric called on these to disarm the Kosovar force.

Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said: “Today is not a day that contributes to co-operation and stability.” However, she struck a more conciliatory tone than other officials, saying Serbia would “try to continue on the path of peace and stability, the road of prosperity.” But Serbs living in Kosovo, in some border areas a majority, say they fear the army has been formed to drive them out.

Kosovo’s move was hailed as its “sovereign right” by the US, while Germany also claimed that it was a “sovereign state [which] has the right to create regular armed forces,” though both advised caution and co-ordination with Nato.

Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said he “regretted” the “ill-timed” decision by Kosovo, adding that the Western military alliance would review its co-operation with what had been the Kosovo Security Force.

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