An action plan for military co-operation between Croatia and Kosovo is being hailed as a step towards NATO.
By Safet Kabashaj and Drazen Remikovic for Southeast European Times in Pristina and Zagreb -- 26/06/12
KSF cadets deploying to a military training in Krivolak, Macedonia. [Safet Kabashaj/SETimes]
Kosovo Security Force (KSF) leadership and Croatia's Defence Ministry are expected to roll out a collaboration strategy for co-operation on Thursday (June 28th), when Croatian Defence Minister Ante Kotromanovic visits Pristina.
The action plan is based on a memorandum of understanding signed by Kotromanovic and the KSF Minister Agim Çeku in Zagreb earlier this month.
"The action plan determines in detail the co-operation between Croatian Forces with Kosovo Security forces in many areas, including education and training that Croatian forces could offer to KSF," force Commander General Kadri Kastrati told SETimes.
Kosovo has similar agreements with Albania, Montenegro, Macedonia and Turkey and some western countries including the US and UK.
"This agreement defines the issues of military technical co-operation, training members of the Kosovo armed forces in the Croatian Military School, the training of military pilots, medical training, and training to prepare to participate in international military operations," the ministry of defence told SETimes.
Davor Djenero, a professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Zagreb, said that such agreements are extremely important for all countries in Southeast Europe, and that this represents the consolidation of the post-war Balkans.
This is a step towards the NATO integration of the Balkans, he added, as it creates a network of regional security; in this way Balkan countries are building a complete picture of the defence system.
"Croatia is already a NATO member, and these contracts are politically so important even for Kosovo as the youngest state in the Balkans. Croatia in this way takes a kind of mentor role for Kosovo, as Hungary did before Croatia joined the NATO," Djenero told SETimes.
The KSF is a multi-ethnic lightly armed force established by the Ahtisaari Plan, consisting of 2,500 active and 800 reserve members. Initially, it is primarily responsible for crisis response, but it will be designed and prepared to fulfill other security functions.
The force is active in regional military and security activities, as well. Twelve KSF cadets deployed last week to the Krivolak Military Training Polygon in Macedonia, to participate in training with 14 other countries.
The Croatian Armed Forces became part of KFOR in July 2008. The basic task of the Croatian contingent is hauling people and cargo.
"The ministry for the security force intends to reverse Kosovo from a country consuming security to a contributing country for security, through close bilateral and multilateral collaboration," ministry press officer Ibrahim Shala told SETimes.