Turkey pledges financial support to the Kosovo Security Force.
By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 19/03/13
The Kosovo Security Force has benefitted from a co-operative relationship with Turkey. [AFP]
Kosovo and Turkey continue to deepen their bilateral relations, particularly in the area of military co-operation.
Mentor Vrajolli, a senior researcher at the Kosovo Security Studies Centre, told SETimes that Turkish Minister of Defense Ismet Yilmaz's February visit to Pristina opened an important chapter between the two countries.
Kosovo is performing a strategic review of its security sector, and during the next few years it is anticipated the process will result in the transformation of the Kosovo Security Force into the country's army.
"Despite the size, the creation of the army has its own cost," Vrajolli told SETimes.
"Therefore, Turkish military support or any support from any other NATO member is very important for Kosovo at this phase."
With Kosovo at a critical juncture in its discussions with Serbia concerning the future of northern Kosovo, Yilmaz provided full support to Pristina. During his visit, he told Kosovo Security Force Minister Agim Ceku that the Turkish parliament has agreed to provide an undisclosed amount of financial assistance to the force.
"The door to dialogue should never be closed because new discontents can bring new animosities," Yilmaz said. "To us, the preservation of the territorial integrity of Kosovo and the political sovereignty of Kosovo is vital and should be supported and protected. We believe that Kosovo will soon take its place in the international community."
Yilmaz added: "Kosovo is an independent and equal country in the Balkans. Kosovo should have its own army, as all the independent and sovereign countries have."
Ceku told reporters that Turkey's support is "very concrete, very valuable, and very necessary in the future."
Turkey was one of the first countries to recognise Kosovo's independence and has supported Kosovo in the field of public administration, health, education, military and agriculture.
As a NATO member country, Turkey has around 350 troops serving in Kosovo as peacekeepers in KFOR. There is also a Turkish police and civilian presence in Kosovo as a part of EULEX, OSCE and UNMIK.
"Kosovo and Turkey share close ties of brotherhood and friendship stemming from long shared history and culture. As a Balkan country itself, Turkey considers territorial integrity and the stability of Kosovo as an essential element for peace and stability in the Balkans," the Turkish embassy in Pristina told SETimes.