By Muhamet Brajshori
While the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) conducts crisis response operations domestically and abroad, handles civil protection operations and assists civil authorities in responding to natural disasters and other emergencies — it does not have the status of an army.
This year however, KSF, which was founded in 2008, will undergo a government-initiated restructuring that will include future participation in foreign peacekeeping and humanitarian missions.
“The likelihood of KSF engaging in humanitarian and peacekeeping missions is large, as the US and other NATO countries [have] requested participation,” Ibrahim Shala, the director of public information at the KSF Ministry, told SETimes.
Before any missions abroad take place, however, the government must pass new legislation on the issue.
“KSF is working on the law draft and accompanying documentation to enable participation in peacekeeping missions, in co-operation with NATO countries and our international friends,” Shala said.
Aside from the legal framework needed, the troops need to prepare. NATO member countries provide training for new members in foreign missions.
“KSF is training for peacekeeping and humanitarian operations. A platoon of 30 members was sent to Turkey for training in peacekeeping operations,” Shala said, adding that KSF would likely participate in missions involving de-mining, medicine, conservation camps, search and rescue and logistics.
Kosovo forces would join others in the region in supporting international missions. Albania and Macedonia have troops in Afghanistan; Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina have deployed troops to Afghanistan and Africa — and have taken part in the US-led force in Iraq. Serbia, with its neutral position, does not participate in NATO-led missions, but has peacekeeping forces with the UN and EU in Africa.
Berat Bejtullahu, a researcher at the Centre for Conflict Research and Resolution in Pristina, told SETimes that because Kosovo lacks full international recognition, and does not have UN membership, the country will have a limited capacity to send missions abroad.
“The desire is high, but Kosovo is likely to join contingents of bigger countries like the US, UK or Turkey abroad, so that the lack of recognition does not make a full blockade. But overall, Kosovo will take part mainly in NATO or EU-lead missions,” Bejtullahu said.
He added that KSF has the capacity to offer services in some military areas.
“KSF has been trained since it was founded by NATO as one of the most democratic controlled armies in the world, and has gained enough experience and expertise in different areas, which makes it a reliable partner for the international community,” Bejtullahu told SETimes.
He suggests that Libya and Afghanistan are likely destinations for KSF deployment.
“NATO is engaged in Libya and Afghanistan, and Kosovo will be invited to those countries. Libyans have already expressed a wish to co-operate with KSF because of the similarities in post-conflict security structures. Libya during the Gaddafi era has been a close military partner with Serbia, and now is seeking to develop closer ties with Kosovo, which shows just how much relations have changed,” said Bejtullahu.
Aferdita Krasniqi, 24, a political science student, told SETimes “It would be great for Kosovo to contribute abroad, although a small contribution, but one with a good message that Kosovo is not only a country which needs foreign troops, but also one which can contribute to peace in conflict areas.”
For Gracanica taxi driver, Stanisa Rukic, 39, however, “If Kosovo sends troops abroad it means that [we] will have an army, and for the Serbs this is not a good sign that Albanians will have their own army. We are without protection then, because Serbia does not have its army here.”