Germany and the US defended Kosovo’s “sovereign right” to establish an army, despite stigmatizing that came from Serbia.

“Kosovo, as a sovereign state, has the right to create regular armed forces,” German Foreign Ministry spokesman Rainer Breul said in Berlin on Friday (December 14th).

The US Embassy in Pristina expressed full support for the gradual transition to a territorial defense mandate as well as the sovereign right of Kosovo. The United States earlier this year gave the army 24 armed vehicles and stated that it was “natural Kosovo to be an independent state with self-defense capabilities.”

These speeches came shortly after Kosovo lawmakers voted unanimously to transform the security forces – a light armed corps of 2,500 men and women – into a professional army of 5,000 soldiers.

But NATO, which has a peacekeeping mission of 4,000 in Kosovo, openly criticizes the army’s decision in a rare expression of disagreement between the members of the Western Alliance. The organization sees the decision as inappropriate at this time, and its chief secretary, Jens Stoltenberg, has said it will have to reconsider NATO’s commitment to Kosovo.

Kosovo has done so despite the threat of Serbian invasion, if necessary, to protect ethnic Serbs from the new forces. Pristina reacted with a number of tariffs for Serbia’s exports, which increased by 100 percent. They are targeting Kosovo Serbs who buy goods from Serbia.

Germany and the United States urged Kosovo to act cautiously and both states to show restraint. Kosovo should not be “too hasty,” and Serbia should not use Kosovo’s army as a “pretext for further escalation,” said the German foreign ministry spokesman.

“Regional stability requires Kosovo to make real efforts to normalize relations with neighboring Serbia,” states the US.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced he will inspect his troops on the border with Kosovo in the coming days.