KSF participating in Albania celebrations

16/11/2012

Kosovo's inclusion is part of bilateral co-operation that Kosovo is developing with neighbouring states.

By Muhamet Brajshori and Ivana Jovanovic for Southeast European Times in Pristina and Belgrade -- 16/11/12

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A unit of 65 Kosovo Security Force soldiers will participate in the Tirana military parade on November 28th. [AFP]

A Kosovo Security Force unit will march in the military parade in Tirana on November 28th to celebrate the centennial anniversary of Albania's independence.

"In honor of Flag Day and the 100th anniversary of Albania's independence, the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) has begun to prepare a quad formed specially in honor of this event," Ibrahim Shala, KSF ministry director of public information, told SETimes.

Sixty-five soldiers have already been chosen to participate in the Tirana parade, he said.

Shala explained the Kosovo soldiers will parade in a new uniform designed according to NATO standards. "[B]ut they have a Kosovar identity which makes them distinct from other countries' armies."

Shala said the move is part of bilateral co-operation that Kosovo is developing with neighbouring states.

"We have a co-operation agreement between the two [defence] ministries of Kosovo and Albania. We also have co-operation agreements with Montenegro and Macedonia," Shala said.

But the inclusion of KSF forces in an Albanian parade is raising concerns in some quarters.

Velibor Stevic, president of the Security Committee of the Strength of Serbia Movement BK, a coalition partner of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, told SETimes that Albanians in Kosovo are "planning to combine Kosovo and Metohia and Albania to create a Greater Albania. The presence of the KSF at Albania's military parade in Tirana proves this."

Orhan Dragas, director of the International Security Institute in Belgrade, disagreed.

"[T]he Kosovo Albanians are only supporting their mother country. The two countries have no ambitions to form a union, but do have ambitions to rule the small markets," Dragas told SETimes.

Albania is a NATO member; most countries in the region are either members or part of NATO's Partnership for Peace programme, said Goran Petrovic of the Social-Democratic Party of Serbia, a coalition partner.

"Kosovo Security Forces' presence in the Tirana parade does not represent a risk for regional security and stability since Kosovo will not attack Serbia's south, nor will Albania attack Macedonia," Petrovic told SETimes.

The Albanian Ministry of Defense did not return calls for comment from SETimes.

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Kosovo citizens support the decision to send KSF soldiers to Tirana.

"I will be happy to see KSF in Tirana alongside the Albanian soldiers because although not united in a state, we now have better means to have closer ties and greater exchange than before," Hamide Gashi, a law student from Pristina, told SETimes.

Gashi said she will go to Tirana to witness the Kosovo soldiers' participation in the parade.

"For Albanians, it is a day of celebration and I do not think anyone should view it as a threat. In the end, they are not more than 100 soldiers, what could they do, nothing," Fitim Maqastena, a Pristina resident, told SETimes.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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