Kosovo premier, NATO chief speak amid Serbia tensions

Kosovo premier, NATO chief speak amid Serbia tensions
In this photo taken on Sept. 9, 2018, soldiers of NATO-led peacekeeping force KFOR take a break by the side of the road in the village of Kosterc, Kosovo. Serbia's prime minister warned on Wednesday that the formation of a Kosovo army could trigger Serbia's armed intervention in the former province — the bluntest warning so far amid escalating tensions in the Balkans. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu) (Visar Kryeziu)

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Kosovo's prime minister and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg have spoken on the phone about the country's plan to form a new army, a move that has been strongly contested by Serbia and the alliance.

A statement from Kosovo's government on Thursday said Ramush Haradinaj assured Stoltenberg the transition from the Kosovo Security Force into a regular army would be done in close cooperation with NATO.

Stoltenberg said in a statement that he had talked with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Haradinaj, calling on them to "show calm and restraint, and avoid any provocative statements or actions."

He said he had warned Haradinaj that NATO would "examine the level of our engagement with the Kosovo Security Force.?"

"I stressed that such a move is ill-timed, goes against the advice of many NATO allies, and can have negative repercussions on Kosovo's prospects for Euro-Atlantic integration," he said.

In this photo taken on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, Serbian Army soldiers perform during rehearsal exercise in Batajnica, military airport near Belgrade, Serbia. Serbia's prime minister warned on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018 that the formation of a Kosovo army could trigger Serbia's armed intervention in the former province — the bluntest warning so far amid escalating tensions in the Balkans. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
In this photo taken on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, Serbian Army soldiers perform during rehearsal exercise in Batajnica, military airport near Belgrade, Serbia. Serbia's prime minister warned on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018 that the formation of a Kosovo army could trigger Serbia's armed intervention in the former province — the bluntest warning so far amid escalating tensions in the Balkans. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic) (AP)

Stoltenberg reminded Belgrade and Pristina that dialogue remained "the only way to bring durable peace and stability to the region," adding that NATO was committed to the security and stability of Kosovo.

Serbia has warned the formation of a Kosovo army could trigger an armed intervention.

In this photo taken March 22, 2018, members of Kosovo Security Force (KSF) line up for the flag raising ceremony inside the barracks in the southern part of the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica, Kosovo. Serbia's prime minister warned on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018 that the formation of a Kosovo army could trigger Serbia's armed intervention in the former province — the bluntest warning so far amid escalating tensions in the Balkans. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
In this photo taken March 22, 2018, members of Kosovo Security Force (KSF) line up for the flag raising ceremony inside the barracks in the southern part of the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica, Kosovo. Serbia's prime minister warned on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018 that the formation of a Kosovo army could trigger Serbia's armed intervention in the former province — the bluntest warning so far amid escalating tensions in the Balkans. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu) (AP)

Kosovo's parliament will vote Dec. 14 on the formation of a regular army. Kosovo declared independence in 2008, a move which Serbia doesn't recognize.

In this photo taken March 22, 2018, members of Kosovo Security Force (KSF) train in hostage rescue situation inside the barracks in the southern part of the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica, Kosovo. Serbia's prime minister warned on Wednesday that the formation of a Kosovo army could trigger Serbia's armed intervention in the former province — the bluntest warning so far amid escalating tensions in the Balkans. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
In this photo taken March 22, 2018, members of Kosovo Security Force (KSF) train in hostage rescue situation inside the barracks in the southern part of the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica, Kosovo. Serbia's prime minister warned on Wednesday that the formation of a Kosovo army could trigger Serbia's armed intervention in the former province — the bluntest warning so far amid escalating tensions in the Balkans. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu) (AP)