President Thaçi: We are united on the establishment of the army, the Assembly has made the rightfull decision on KSF

Prishtina, 8th of March 2017 – The President of the Republic of Kosovo, Mr. Hashim Thaçi, following the meeting with representatives of the “Quint” states, stated in a press conference that Kosovo cannot join NATO without transforming KSF.

President Thaci stated that the draft-law on Kosovo's army has unified the entire political spectrum and strengthened the confidence of Kosovo’s citizens on our unwavering commitment to take decisions in the best interest of our citizens and our state.

“All political actors involved in this process should be at the highest level of their duty, and dedication to perform their job for the successful conclusion of this process“, stated President Thaçi.

The full speech of President Thaçi:

Honoured representatives of the media,
Citizens of the Republic of Kosovo,

Citizens of the Republic of Kosovo have been informed that yesterday, based on my constitutional power as the President and Supreme Commander of Kosovo Security Force, I have submitted to the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo, the Draft-law on Kosovo Security Force, namely the draft-law which transforms KSF into Kosovo’s army.

I consider this legal initiative, which was undertaken in full coordination with Kosovo’s state institutions, as necessary for advancing the role and duties of Kosovo Security Force.

Such change in mission and the new duties that KSF will assume in accordance with the new law, will transform KSF into a modern, multi-ethnic, professional army, ready to protect Kosovo’s citizens, which will be in the service of maintaining peace in the region and the world, whenever Kosovo is called upon to contribute in this regard.

Allow me to avail of this opportunity and express my regard to the members of the Presidency of the Assembly of Kosovo, who have handled this initiative with highest responsibility and priority, by deciding today, to move forward in this regard and proceed with the legal initiative for obtaining the opinion of the Government of the Republic of Kosovo, in accordance with applicable regulation and legislation.

I remain convinced that the Government of the Republic of Kosovo, namely Prime Minister Mustafa, will handle the Draft-law on KSF with utmost priority, and give its official positive opinion and support the draft-law.

Dear representatives of the media,
Citizens of the Republic of Kosovo,

In this period, the entire political spectrum in Kosovo, including civil society and our citizens, must be fully united to successfully conclude this process, which depends entirely on the willingness of our state institutions.

As I expected, the draft law on Kosovo’s Army has unified the political spectrum in Kosovo and strengthened the confidence of Kosovo citizens in our resoluteness to take decisions in their interest and in the interest of our state.

Therefore, all political actors involved in this process should be at the highest level of their duty, and dedication to perform their job for the successful conclusion of this process.

We should pay attention to our official positions on this issue while we patiently, and with sufficient arguments, explain this process to our international partners, neighbouring countries, and anyone else, who has doubts about the process.

The Republic of Kosovo is not making any sudden step, unilateral or uncoordinated action, or unlawful and unconstitutional action. We are not doing anything that could be considered a threat to peace and safety in Kosovo or in the region.

Reality and truth in this entire process is that:

The independent state of Kosovo is merely doing a legal and constitutional act, which is the foundation of every democratic state in the world.

We, as democratic institutions of an independent state, have decided to give KSF the mission and duties of a modern, professional, multi-ethnic army, which will be able to protect the sovereignty of our country.

This constitutional and legal obligation was not challenged nor can be challenged by none of our Western partners, including NATO and its member states.

However, this essential constitutional and legal act was opposed and continues to be opposed only by Serbia, claiming that the establishment of the Kosovo Army is a threat to peace and safety in the region.

Serbia constantly says such a thing as part of its propaganda against the state of Kosovo, while at the same time, with a nationalist pride, fills its airspace with MIG aircrafts donated by Russia.

Be that as it may, I think that this issue is clear to all stakeholders, both local and international.

Currently, the only threat to peace in our region is the increased impact of Russia's role in the region and the number of MIG aircrafts in Serbia’s airspace.

Naturally, in addition to this threat, there are also threats posed by terrorist elements, which is yet another aspect where Kosovo remains a champion in the region for an uncompromising fight against terrorism and violent extremism.

Therefore, I expect NATO to be aware of these specific risks and not to worry about advancing the role of KSF, knowing that KSF was strengthened and trained by NATO and the member states of NATO.

I said this as a direct response to concerns that have been raised today by the Secretary of NATO, the Quint states and the United States of America.

The major remark of the Secretary of NATO during the today's phone conversation was under the pretext that NATO considers our legal initiative to change the mission and duties of the KSF as a unilateral act.

This does not stand, since for three years we have tried to coordinate this action with parliamentarians of the Serb community living in Kosovo, but they have made it clear that they would never vote in favour of the constitutional amendments allowing the establishment of the Kosovo Army.

If the Secretary of NATO considers our initiative as unilateral because Serbia does not agree with our actions, then I consider this as completely unacceptable, because the Kosovo’s fate and the fate of our army cannot be held hostage to the will of Serbia, under no circumstance and for no price.

Moreover, I as the President, being fully aware of such reactions, yesterday I had a phone conversation with the Prime Minister of Serbia, telling him about my decision and I made it clear to him that the KSF, neither in its current, nor in its new mandate, which I hope KSF will soon receive, poses any threat to Serbia or any other country anywhere in the world.

Dear representatives of the media,
Citizens of the Republic of Kosovo,

I, as the President have the duty to make sure that Kosovo deepens its cooperation with NATO, because membership in this military organization is our most crucial objective.

Moreover, it is my duty to deepen cooperation with the United States of America, because the very existence and functioning of our state is the result of our joint efforts.

Therefore, I have attentively heard the advices and opinions of the USA on this issue during the regular weekly work meeting that I had today with the US Ambassador, Mr. Greg Delawie.

Despite the concerns made public, USA, under no circumstances, puts into question our legitimate right to establish the Kosovar army.

The United States has made it clear that it fully supports this process, but wants this process to occur through constitutional amendments.

I have explained this yesterday and I will explain it again.

Since 2014, when the review of the security sector in Kosovo ended, and when I made public the establishment of the Armed Forces of Kosovo, I have never ceased my endeavours to make possible the transformation of the KSF through constitutional amendments, just as we and our partners, respectively the USA, preferred.

All actors involved in this process, namely the Kosovo institutions, NATO and our partner countries, have so far unfortunately failed to convince the MPs of the Serbian List to vote the constitutional amendments for the creation of the Armed Forces of Kosovo.

And all of us, including the general public, know very well the reason of this failure.

Unfortunately, MPs of the Serbian List, as we have seen in many cases until now, remain loyal only to the orders they receive from Serbia, and not to the Government of Kosovo.

Therefore, it is not possible for us to wait for eternity, only to receive an already known negative result.

However, with the highest responsibility, I publicly state today, that if NATO, Quint states or the US, manage to persuade the MPs of the Serbian List to vote in favour of the constitutional amendments, I assure you that the Government of Kosovo, I, as President, and the Assembly, would be delighted to proceed, without wasting any time, with the transformation of KSF through constitutional amendments.

I, being aware that there may be such reactions, have requested such a guarantee from NATO, the Quint and the US as well, but, so far, none of them has been able to guarantee one vote of MPs of the Serbian List in favour of the constitutional amendments for transformation of KSF to Kosovo army.

Therefore, I asked the full understanding of our partners in this process, which is not done unilaterally, but was rather initiated in a quite natural and transparent manner.

NATO and our international partners should help Kosovo during this transformation with appropriate and professional advice, and never should they think of how to punish Kosovo, only for initiating this legal process, which they publicly say is a legitimate right of the institutions of the Republic of Kosovo.

Despite this, the institutions of the Republic of Kosovo remain fully transparent and open to provide all necessary guarantees and explanations throughout this vital process for our country.

However, I reiterate that the legislative initiative to change the mandate of the KSF shall continue in accordance with applicable law, and without any further delays.

In conclusion, it is the responsibility of the MPs of the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo, who represent the will of the citizens of Kosovo, to take the rightful decision on KSF, respectively on Kosovo’s army.

Meanwhile, I as president of the country, remain convinced that Kosovo MPs will not leave Kosovo without an army, because this is the will of all citizens of the Republic of Kosovo.