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Kosovo government prepares draft law on creating a new army

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo’s government has prepared three draft laws on transforming the country’s security forces into a regular army, though it is not clear whether it will get formal parliamentary approval.

Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj on Thursday said that any step on army transformation “will be done in line with our strategic partners in NATO, especially the U.S.”

The U.S. embassy in Kosovo was not pleased with the government’s move, however, saying it was “not consulted on the timing of this announcement and will have to analyze the draft laws to understand their purpose and effect.”

It said its recent efforts have been concentrated on normalizing relations between Kosovo and Serbia, which it considers the most important step for progress.

A year ago, President Hashim Thaci bowed to pressure from NATO and the U.S. and withdrew draft legislation on creating an army that did not require approval from Kosovo’s ethnic minorities, as constitutional amendments do.

At that time, Kosovo’s ethnic Serbs and other minority groups said they wouldn’t back the change. NATO and the United States, which have helped train Kosovo’s lightly armed security force, warned they would scale back military cooperation with Kosovo if the government passed the law without amending the constitution.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, which Serbia refuses to recognize.

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