Koha Ditore carries an opinion piece by US political analyst Janusz Bugajski. Following is the full text of the opinion piece.
With the United States determined to resolve Kosovo's final status, international actors must also make commitments to ensuring the long-term security of this emerging state. To be effective, national security must be based on three enduring pillars: statehood, capability, and complementarity. Regarding statehood, following the standards review process scheduled for this summer, Kosovo must obtain a roadmap to a clear final status. Any lingering ambiguity and indecision will lead to increasing frustration and tension, and possible violence. The key standard, which will also serve as the basis for political stability and economic development, is national security ensured by a legitimate state authority.
To be effective, Kosovo's emerging defense force must be both national and territorial. In other words, the security system must involve an all-territorial force responsible for internal security and border controls with a single chain of command and no duplication of functions. Such a force will help turn an international protectorate into a self-sustaining state that will unburden the international community of its costly and time-consuming responsibilities.
An indigenous defense force built on a multi-ethnic basis would make an immense contribution to democratic development and the rule of law. A politically impartial and professional force under a civilian leadership at a new Ministry of Defense would promote the values of leadership, discipline, service to the state, and financial responsibility. It would attract Kosovo's restless young people and teach them to become loyal, responsible, and law-abiding citizens.
Such a defense force can gain public respect and confidence and build up effective intelligence and counter-intelligence functions. This in turn would enhance its capabilities in combating an assortment of internal and external threats, whether organized crime, weapons proliferation, or domestic and international terrorism.
As Kosovo's partition will be rejected by international actors, Belgrade is likely to push for a two-entity system similar to that implemented in Bosnia-Herzegovina under the Dayton accords. But such an arrangement would seriously undermine the new country's security.
During the past ten years, Bosnia has demonstrated that dual governmental authority and parallel security structures in a single state hinders the authority of an effective central government, prevents the development of a united defense force, and obstructs state integration into international institutions. Ten years after Dayton, Bosnia has still not qualified for NATO programs. The most practical solution for the substantial Serbian minority in Kosovo would be extensive minority protection and inclusion as is the case under the Ohrid Framework Agreement for Albanians in Macedonia. While Serbs should gain proportional representation in all of Kosovo's institutions, including the emerging defense structure, at local level in Serbian majority districts, police and law enforcement bodies could be comprised primarily of minority officers.
Regarding capability, the emerging Kosovo defense force must obtain the tools, resources, structures, and manpower necessary to operate effectively and efficiently. There are credible proposals for developing the Kosovo Protection Force into a regular military by constructing several specific components with distinct functions, including a Rapid Reaction Force, a Kosovo Guard, a Civil Protection Brigade, and Special Operations Units. The manpower would include both regular service personnel and part-time reservists, depending on resources and requirements.
Both UNMIK and the Pentagon will conduct a comprehensive assessment of Kosovo's security sector reform as an essential element of future statehood. Both local and foreign experts need to be involved in the process so a credible model of security is emplaced on the road to independence. At the same time, international support must be forthcoming for the development of Kosovo's defense. This would need to include command and staff training at various levels in American, NATO, and EU institutions, appropriate funding, infrastructure development, and capacity building, and the proffering of advice to Kosovo's military and civilian leaders. Commanders of the Kosovo Protection Force have put forward useful proposals to establish Defense Ministry structures and a facility for command and staff training courses in Kosovo itself.
Most of the new states in Central-Eastern Europe have realized that it is easier and more efficient to build a new force from the ground up rather than restructuring and downsizing an obsolete former communist army. And this is where Kosovo has a clear advantage and can assimilate the lessons learnt by other new democracies, such as Slovenia, Latvia, Slovakia, Lithuania, or Estonia - all of whom are now integrated in NATO.
Regarding complementarity, once it is established Kosovo's military will be able to contribute to international peace-keeping and crisis-management missions whether under a UN, NATO, EU, or US mandate. It can also interact closely with its neighbors to promote regional confidence building, enhance inter-operability across state borders, and combat common threats to regional stability. As it develops, the Kosovo defense force would also become complementary to NATO. Alliance troops at some level of strength will need to remain in Kosovo for the foreseeable future until a capable indigenous security structure is constructed. In the interim, the two forces can interact closely in fighting both domestic and international threats to the stability of the new state.
Once it is established and proves its value, the Kosovo defense force can seek membership in various regional security organizations, participation in NATO's Partnership for Peace (PfP) program, and eventual membership in NATO itself.
The security of every state in the Balkans is essential for regional stability and European integration. Independence and statehood for Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia are the only viable long-term option that will enable each country to focus its energies and resources on vital internal reforms and in meeting the criteria for international integration. In this equation, security sector reform remains critical; otherwise final status will rest on shaky foundations.