In response to Kosovo’s moves to create its own army, Serbia’s prime minister said on December 5 that she hopes Belgrade would not have to resort to war.

“I hope that we will never have to use our army, but at this moment it is one of the options on the table,” Prime Minister Ana Brnabic told reporters.

As reported by the Agence France-Presse (AFP), Kosovo, a former Serbian province that broke away in a guerrilla war, is expected to vote next week on whether to transform its lightly-armed emergency force into a national army.

Since the end of the 1998-99 war that effectively cleaved it from Belgrade, Kosovo has relied on Nato-led forces to ensure security.

The plans to create its own military force have enraged Serbia, which still refuses to recognise Kosovo’s 2008 independence declaration.

Meanwhile, Nato has also weighed in from Brussels, with its chief Jens Stoltenberg warning Kosovo the move was “ill-timed” and may carry “serious repercussions”.

A day earlier Serbia’s president Aleksander Vucic accused Pristina of trying to “drive out” Kosovo’s 120,000 Serb community, which is concentrated in the north, with its army plans.

Kosovo’s Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj responded on December 5 saying it was a “pure lie” that the army would be directed in the Serb-dominated north, which has never fully submitted to Pristina’s authority.

“The army will not be for the north of Kosovo… The army will be used to help NATO in Afghanistan and Iraq,” he said.