PRISTINA -- Kosovo has said it has established its own armed forces, replacing a lightly armed policing organization founded four years ago.
Prime Minister Hashim Thaci also announced the Ministry of Security has been renamed the Defense Ministry.
Kosovo's armed forces will include 5,000 soldiers and 3,000 reservists.
The Kosovo Security Force was 2,500-strong and was overseen by a NATO-led peacekeeping mission on the ground since the end of the Kosovo war in 1999.
Thaci said the move was "in the interests of all countries in the region, without exceptions."
The decision came under fire in Serbia, which rejects the independence majority ethnic Albanian Kosovo declared in 2008.
Serbia's caretaker Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said he had received guarantees from NATO that Kosovo soldiers would not enter Serb enclaves in the north.
With reporting by dpa and B92