Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a move Serbia doesn’t recognize.
Serbia’s president has said the new army could jeopardize regional stability and peace, and its prime minister also warned it could trigger an armed intervention.
Last year, Kosovo’s president initiated the same thing but backed down after international pressure.
NATO and the U.S. asked that the transformation be made with constitutional amendments, which need the votes of the ethnic Serb minority to pass.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has warned Kosovo “that such a move is ill-timed, goes against the advice of many NATO allies.”
He called on both Serbian and Kosovo officials to “show calm and restraint, and avoid any provocative statements or actions.”
U.S. Ambassador Philip S. Kosnett said in an interview last week that the transformation would be “a long, sustainable process” and that it was most important “that as the armed forces are established – which again, is a long process_that it be multiethnic.”
During the 1998-99 war for independence in Kosovo, Serbia’s bloody crackdown on separatists prompted NATO to launch airstrikes to stop the conflict.
Kosovo’s new army would have 5,000 troops and 3,000 reservists with a 98-million-euro ($111 million) annual budget. It will essentially be a security force handling crisis response and civil protection operations.
Llazar Semini reported from Tirana, Albania.
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