Members of the KSF (Kosovo Army). (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Decisions came from the Kosovar Parliament earlier this week to expand the country’s security forces into a full army. The decision was put forth and supported by the ethnically-Albanian leaders in Parliament, as the Serbian leaders abstained from voting on the issue. The entire region is contemplating the decision’s potential effects on peace and stability.
Kosovo is a country still trying to institute itself as a sovereign nation, only recognized as independent by 54% of UN member states, Serbia, of course, not among them. Serbian leaders are opposed to Kosovo’s call to arms, and are drawing on the limits imposed by international law. Specifically, they draw on a clause in the 1999 Constitution that purports NATO is the only armed force permitted to operate in the country. Yet, those supporting the decision in Kosovo consider the formation of an army a “natural step” to cementing the country’s status as sovereign.
The notion of statehood and the need for security are inseparable, or seem to be, in contemporary constructions of states and state identity. Using the Hobbesian argument calling for a “monopoly on violence” as the determinant of sovereignty, Kosovo supposes it has a need for an independent army to aid itself from external threats or squander those from inside. While the country promises its intentions are defensive, armament for defense looks a lot like armament for offense. Might the decision, supposedly in the name of security, actually compromise the region’s still-fragile stability? Serbia is not opposed to an armed intervention. In a region where scars of conflict are still visible on streets, institutions, and minds, the decision to rearm the country could bring old wounds back to the surface and exacerbate tensions in a region that was beginning to know peace.