NATO Decision on Kosovo Army Risks Future Extremism.

Recent statements by a retired British Brigadier General, Tony Welch, suggesting that a future independent Kosovo should have a small defense force ignore specific factors that contribute to instability and make future violence likely, independent experts say.

The subject of any kind of army for the future Kosovo is an extremely sensitive topic in the Balkans. The 2001 war started by ethnic Albanians in Macedonia, as well as violence in Montenegro and south Serbia, have been listed as factors in Kosovo’s destabilizing tendency in the region.

Calls for a Kosovo army have always been predicated on the notion that a small, orderly military force under NATO’s training would provide a professional alternative to the shadowy paramilitaries that have roamed Kosovo under different acronyms over the past decade. They all, however, have a common source (the Kosovo Liberation Army which fought the Serbs from 1997-1999).

The current police force in the province, the ethnic Albanian-dominated Kosovo Protection Service, and the civil defense force(TMK) are both full of ex-KLA elements. Former KLA general Agim Ceku, before becoming Kosovo’s premier, was the top TMK commander.

The British general’s report suggests that the future army have three characteristics. One, it should be supervised and trained by NATO; two, it should be multi-ethnic and open to all; three, it should be about half the size of the KPS currently (5,000 members).

However noble this sounds, experts believe, this plan ignores the factors that will create further instability. One Serbian military expert in Belgrade attests that "whatever promises they make, there is no chance that Serbs will participate in such an armed formation under overwhelming Albanian command- one, because of the symbolic [loss of Kosovo], two because of their own safety."

And a former European peacekeeper in the province, noting the patronage system of employment that pervades Kosovo society, adds that, "trimming the KPS from 5,000 to 2,500 means that suddenly you will have 2,500 unemployed men, suddenly removed from armed service but with plenty of armed training…this is a recipe for disaster."

As has long been apparent, the West seems to be again overly optimistic about the future security abilities and motivations of Kosovo institutions.

[Fuente: Balkanalysis.com Security & Intelligence Brief 16, 21Nov06]

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