President Thaçi's speech at the conference of the Research Institute for Development and European Affairs (RIDEA)

Thank you Professor Graiçevci, you and the RIDEA Institute for organizing this conference, which offers us the opportunity to jointly speak openly and rationally about the Kosovo Security Force, respectively the Armed Forces of Kosovo in the near future.

Allow me to greet all the participants of this conference, by initially thanking the respected professor Mr. Daniel Serwer, who has come a long way from Washington to come here in Prishtina and give his valuable views on the topic that we will treat today.

I also want to greet the other respected members of this panel, the US Ambassador, Mr. Greg Delawie, the Ambassador of the French Republic, Mr. Didier Chabert and the Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, Mr. Branimir Stojanovic.

I have a special greeting for the selected and highly respected audience, which certainly will give even greater meaning to today’s conference with its comments.

Now, having consideration for your time and attention, let me share with you some of my views on the process of the transformation of the KSF into the Armed Forces, respectively the establishment of the Army of the Republic of Kosovo.

As you have been informed, the legal initiative to amend the mandate and role of the KSF is entirely legitimate, constitutional and in function of strengthening and protecting our national sovereignty. 

I have undertaken this legal initiative for the transformation of the KSF into the army of Kosovo at a specific moment and being convinced that all the other options for the establishment of the Kosovo Armed Forces (KAF) through constitutional changes has been used up.

This action and conviction of mine has not been accidental.

On the contrary, it is a well thought out action and has occurred as a result of the inability of our public institutions and our international partners that during the past three years to establish the Kosovo Armed Forces, in accordance with the recommendations of the main document of the Strategic Security Sector Review, adopted in March 2014.

Moreover, the representatives of the Serbian List for six consecutive months boycotted the Parliament and Government of the Republic of Kosovo, making it impossible for our institutions to secure their support and inclusion in this vital process for our country.

Therefore, allow me to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Deputy Prime Minister Stojanovic and all the other MPs and political representatives of the Serbian List, who have decided to return to work as part of our institutions.

There is no doubt that the only and the best way for the protection and promotion of the interests of all communities living in Kosovo, and in this case of the Serb community, is and remains only through their active participation in our state institutions.

I have undertaken the legal initiative for the establishment of the Army of Kosovo not only because it is a constitutional and legal obligation, not only because it is our essential right to have our own army, which guarantees the protection of our sovereignty, but also because I have considered that Kosovo is unable to achieve its goal of membership into NATO, without establishing its own army.

But what has happened in the meantime?

Since having undertaken the legal initiative until today we have had a very useful debate that has taken place at various levels of our society and two curves or significant developments, which I think provide a positive perspective for the successful conclusion of the establishment of the Kosovo Armed Forces.

The first positive development is the end of the boycott and the return of the Serbian List into the state institutions, whereas the second development is the willingness of our international strategic partners to get involved actively for the establishment of the Kosovo Armed Forces through a transparent and inclusive process.

Either way, respecting all the different opinions and approaches for the establishment of the Army of Kosovo, I think that the common denominator of all this debate is that the institutions of the Republic of Kosovo, the parliamentary political parties, the civil society and the citizens of Kosovo are ready to make the natural, constitutional and legal step for the establishment of the Army of Kosovo, whether through the constitutional amendments which is and remains the ideal option or even through the legal initiative.

In such circumstances, the institutions of the Republic of Kosovo are completely aware of the importance of preserving and strengthening the strategic partnership with NATO and the USA, as they are responsible that the establishment of the Army OF Kosovo needs to be done without wasting time.

I, as President and Commander in Chief of the KSF am obliged that together with all the other institutions of Kosovo, to establish the Army of Kosovo, but also to further preserve and strengthen the cooperation with our strategic partners.

This goal is perfectly achievable, taking into consideration the fact that all our strategic partners agree that Kosovo should establish the Army.

The only difference so far has been in the approach to be followed to achieve this common goal.

So, the NATO member states and the United States still believe that the institutions of the Republic of Kosovo can and should make an effort to establish the Kosovo Armed Forces through constitutional amendments.

Within this context and considering the two recent important developments which I mentioned above, I consider that the institutions of the Republic of Kosovo are fully ready to restart another last serious effort together with our strategic partners to ensure the support of all communities in Kosovo, and in particular of the Serb community for the transformation of the KSF into the KAF through constitutional amendments.

We should not forget the fact that the establishment of the Army of Kosovo is one of the most important moments and developments for the state-building process since the declaration of the independence of Kosovo.

Therefore being fully responsible for the importance of the conclusion of the establishment process of the Army of Kosovo through a transparent, inclusive process and which ensures the full support of all our strategic partners, I consider that our institutions still have at their disposal enough time that, once again, to jointly make a final effort to secure the support of all communities for the establishment of the Kosovo Armed Forces.

In service of achieving this common goal and taking into consideration the recent developments in the country, today I have sent an official letter to the President and members of the Presidency of the Assembly of Kosovo, through which I have requested that my legislative initiative for the amendment of the mandate and role of the KSF not to be put on the agenda for discussion, until our institutions and our strategic partners conclude this last effort, to ensure the support of all the communities in order that the transformation of the KSF into the Kosovo Armed Forces is made through constitutional changes.

I believe that the Assembly of Kosovo will show responsibility and understanding for this new development, because I am convinced that in these new circumstances, this created option must be used with commitment and serious inclusion of all our institutions.

As President I want to assure all the stakeholders in this process, and especially the legitimate representatives of the Serb community who still have hesitations and misunderstandings, but hereby I would like to also publicly assure our international partners that the efforts of all our state institutions to achieve this purpose are very serious and well-intentioned.

We are not making this effort just as a pretense or just to convince our partners that we have made another effort, however the political representatives of the Serb community did not change their attitude.
 
This is not the intention, in no case.

We want the establishment of the Army to be a moment of unification of the citizens of Kosovo, the political parties and the civil society.

We would like that the Serb community living in Kosovo to be part of this process and give their support through their political representatives, just like all the other communities.

The KSF, today is multiethnic, like the Kosovo Armed Forces will be tomorrow to proudly serve the interests of the citizens of Kosovo equally.

We are interested to establish the KAF to strengthen Kosovo’s security and regional stability.

Kosovo should have its own army in order to contribute to regional and global security by becoming a member of NATO.

Therefore, I hope that our good intentions shall not be misused and misinterpreted by anyone and they will be completely in function of achieving our common goal.

I again reiterate that I want and am working intensively for such a vital goal to be successfully concluded with the support of all the communities of Kosovo and that it should occur through constitutional changes.

In the opposite case, I made it clear that no one will be able to use the veto or hinder in any way the establishment of the Army of Kosovo and this is already clear.

Therefor it is essential that the political representatives of the Serb community should not think, even for a single moment, that the Kosovo institutions are giving up on the establishment of the Armed Forces, because this would be a great error from their part.

We, with the best intentions, in accordance with the Action Plan, are only making the process completely transparent, comprehensive and are giving one last chance to the establishment of the Kosovo Armed Forces through constitutional amendments.

In any case, I am sure that this whole vital process for the Republic of Kosovo will be concluded with complete success within a short period of time during this year.

Thank you for your attention!