Kosovo aspires to a more stable military future after joining its neighbours to encourage cooperation with US forces by signing an Agreement on the Status of the Armed Forces (SOFA). There are sources who cite Russia`s role in the immediate resolution of the agreement. There was a statement about a meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. An initial agreement was reached between the two sides, with NATO`s commitment to cease its airstrikes and a desire to remove a passage it wished to include in the Kumanovo agreement in exchange for Russian support for an upcoming UN resolution agreed by the Group of Eight. Without Russia`s participation, the UN Security Council resolution on Kosovo would not have been adopted and NATO airstrikes would have continued. Albania benefited from such an agreement, which also facilitated its accession to NATO. The SOFA agreement, signed on February 18 in Pristina, defines the legal status of the U.S. military on the territory of another nation. It defines the rights and responsibilities between the United States and host governments with respect to criminal and civil justice, tax and customs matters, the entry and exit of personal property, and the settlement of claims. The United States has sofa agreements with many nations around the world.
The director of the Centre for Security Studies, Ramadan Qehaja, says the agreement is based on the law on the sofa passed last year by Parliament. Before the Kumanovo agreement, there was a flood of negotiations not only between Yugoslavia and Serbia, but also between NATO and Russia. Despite the initial agreement, for example on a timetable for the withdrawal of Serb forces in Kosovo, NATO`s allied force was still ongoing until the full withdrawal of Serb troops was completed. Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Albania have signed all SOFA agreements with the United States. Blerim Limani, spokesman for the Ministry of Kosovo Security Forces (KSF), told SETimes that the agreement “provides assistance to all pillars of the KSF mission: firefighting, search and rescue, hazardous waste disposal and explosives disposal.” “The importance of this agreement is to legalize cooperation between Kosovo and the United States,” Qehaja told SETimes. “The first result of this agreement is that Kosovo has appointed its first foreign military attaché – Xhevat Gashi, US military attaché,” Maloku told the SETimes news agency, adding that the agreement would also facilitate NATO`s offer to Kosovo.