MFA: We are in the process of evaluating the expansion of the network of military attachés

Kosovo is currently represented by military attachés in only seven countries in the world. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that they are in coordination with the Ministry of Defense to find the best way to expand the network of defense attachés. Experts in the field of defense and security estimate that Kosovo should be represented by military attachés in all NATO member countries with which there are bilateral agreements.

The United States of America, Great Britain, France, Germany, Turkey, Croatia and Albania are the countries where Kosovo has sent defense attachés.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Kreshnik Ahmeti, said that they are also looking at increasing the number of SOFA agreements.

"We are in close coordination with the Ministry of Defense, with Minister Mehaj and his cabinet, to see the best way to expand this network of defense attachés, but also to increase the number of SOFA agreements, because this is important for the very establishment of our army and its preparation, but also in the diplomatic sense it has good effects. In the diplomatic sense, it has a good effect and in our goal of rapprochement with NATO, and the first step, and we believe that it should happen quickly, is inclusion in the Partnership for Peace Program", says Ahmeti.

The vice president of the Commission for Security and Defense Affairs, Enver Dugolli, said that Kosovo can apply the model of attachés, which according to him can cover several countries simultaneously.

"There are different practices in military diplomacy, even countries that are quite developed with large and powerful economies apply this form of military diplomacy. Not every country has defense attachés. Those in one state have resident defense attachés, while non-residents cover surrounding states, two or three states. I think that this is also a form applied by other states and we will also implement it in practice with military defense attachés, to cover even the states that do not have resident attachés", says Dugolli.

The deputy of the Vetëvendosje Movement, the party that governs the country, says that diplomacy is a priority and a need of the Ministry of Defense, and according to him, the government is giving special importance to bilateral relations with NATO member states.

Dugolli says that in this way the lack of attachés is being compensated for, as according to him the budget of Kosovo cannot afford to have defense attachés in every state that has recognized Kosovo.

However, the deputy of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, Ariana Musliu-Shoshi, who is part of the Committee for Foreign Affairs, said that there should be military attachés in all important centers.

"It would be good to have military attachés in almost all important centers of member states and other states that are of strategic importance. In particular, the Mission for NATO as a precursor core mission before membership, in addition to the ambassador and two diplomats in lower ranks, must urgently also have a soldier, at least in the rank of Brigadier General and one or two officers with lower military ranks. The attaché in Belgium is expected to be accredited by the Belgian state, but it is not relevant for NATO. This could serve at this stage as a liaison between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense", said Musliu-Shoshi.

Xhavit Gashit, the first military attaché of Kosovo, says that the number of these envoys should increase, but also attention to their quality.

Gashi, who served in the United States of America from 2011 to 2016, says that the priority should be officers trained with major ranks in those countries where Kosovo has greater military cooperation.

"Anyway, I think the number should be increased, but the attention to the quality of military attachés should also be continued. Understanding the cost that these functions of military diplomacy carry with them, I would recommend that Kosovo be represented by military attachés in all NATO member countries with which we have bilateral agreements. However, the priority is to have more prepared officers with major ranks in those countries where Kosovo has greater military cooperation, but also considering the special weight that countries have in decision-making in support of Kosovo's journey to NATO through the Partnership for Peace" , said Gashi.

The Republic of Kosovo has over 60 embassies and consulates in different countries of the world. Kosovo is aiming for inclusion in the Partnership for Peace, while the heads of state constantly declare that the country should join NATO as soon as possible. /KSP