By Talha Ozturk
Turkey on Monday hailed Kosovo's decision to exercise its "sovereign right" to transform its current security force into a 5,000-strong standing army.
"Turkey, as a NATO member Balkan country which supports the KFOR [NATO stabilization force] and contributed to the Kosovo Security Force, sees the parliament's decision on Dec. 14 to pass a law to convert the security forces into an army as a sovereign right,” said a statement by Turkey’s Embassy in Pristina.
The statement also praised declarations by Kosovo authorities “that this transformation process, which is expected to last for years, will be carried out in a constitutional framework, including democratic means and all communities in Kosovo, in coordination with NATO so as to maintain stability and peace in the region."
The statement also stressed that Turkey prioritizes peace and stability of the region and will continue to support dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia.
Bucking Serbian opposition, Kosovo's parliament on Friday overwhelmingly passed a law to make a standing Kosovar army a reality.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Belgrade insists the country remains part of Serbia. Since then, tensions have persisted between Kosovo’s ethnic-Albanian majority and a small Serb minority in the north.
Kosovo’s independence is recognized by over 100 countries, including the U.S., Britain, France, Germany
Serbia, Russia, and China are among the countries which have not yet recognized its independence.