NATO acknowledges Kosovo has come a long way, but said Kosovo PfP membership is not yet on the table.
By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 18/07/12
Kosovo Security Forces are prepared for membership in regional and international security mechanisms, having fulfilled all NATO criteria. [Reuters]
Kosovo is seeking to expand its international profile as it seeks to join the EU, NATO and gain more recognition on the global stage.
Prime Minister Hashim Thaci submitted a request for Kosovo to join Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme in Pristina on July 11th, which would establish a formal partnership between Kosovo and NATO. Thaci also requested that Kosovo join the US-Adriatic Charter, and other regional security structures, in which the country presently serves as an observer.
Still another request is for participation of Kosovo Security Force (KSF) and Kosovo police within NATO or EU-led operations abroad.
"Kosovo is dedicated to become an important factor of peace, stability, and security in the region, having already proven it through excellent co-operation with KFOR," Thaci told NATO.
A NATO spokesman told SETimes that Kosovo's request to join PfP was not yet discussed, and said the US-Adriatic Charter members should decide who joins their grouping.
KSF said it is prepared for a membership in regional and international security mechanisms, claiming it has fulfilled all NATO criteria, with a capacity to react in emergency situations in Kosovo and abroad.
"Based on NATO criteria and standards, KSF fulfilled all criteria for PfP membership. KSF membership in the regional security mechanisms would offer KSF to prove itself as an overall security contributor in the region," Remzie Zeqiraj, KSF public relations officer, told SETimes.
Zeqiraj said that KSF objective is participation and membership in all regional initiatives.
"KSF is also ready to contribute with its capacities in the cases of natural disasters, search and rescue operations, elimination of unexploded devices, logistics, medicine," she added.
The Kosovo Centre for Security Studies published in April a report on Kosovo's path towards the Partnership for Peace programme. All Western Balkan countries have joined, except Kosovo. KCSS says the main problem for Kosovo is the position of four NATO members which do not recognize Kosovo's independence – Spain, Slovakia, Greece and Romania.
"The refusal to recognize Kosovo officially makes the contractual relation between NATO and Kosovo very difficult," KCSS said.
KSF has about 2,500 members and some 800 reserves. Their hierarchy structure is based on the NATO military system.