BELGRADE (AP) -- Serbia's prime minister warned Wednesday that the formation of a Kosovo army could trigger Serbia's armed intervention in the former province – the bluntest warning so far amid escalating tensions in the Balkans.
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said that she hopes "we won't ever have to use our army, but unfortunately that is currently one of the options on the table."
Kosovo's Parliament will vote Dec. 14 on transforming the country's security forces into a regular army. Serbian officials allege the army would be used to chase the Serb minority out of Kosovo – a claim repeatedly denied by Kosovo officials.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg Wednesday issued a warning on Kosovo's intention to transition into army.
"Such a move is ill-timed. It goes against the advice of many NATO allies and may have serious repercussions for Kosovo's future Euro-Atlantic integration," he said.
Russia, which is close ally of Serbia, called Kosovo's planned move "another destabilizing and provocative step."
PARIS (Reuters) -- U.S. President Donald Trump has taken another swipe on Twitter at his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron prompted by Macron's woes over violent protests against fuel taxes.
"I am glad that my friend @EmmanuelMacron and the protestors in Paris have agreed with the conclusion I reached two years ago," Trump tweeted late on Tuesday.
"The Paris Agreement is fatally flawed because it raises the price of energy for responsible countries while whitewashing some of the worst polluters," said Trump, referring to a global deal on the environment drafted in Paris in late 2015.
Earlier this week, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe decided to suspend planned increases to fuel taxes for at least six months in response to weeks of sometimes violent protests, marking the first major U-turn by Macron's administration in 18 months in office.
GENEVA (AP) — The UN secretary-general’s envoy for Western Sahara is meeting with foreign ministers from Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania plus leaders of the Polisario Front over the future of the Morocco-annexed territory.
UN envoy Horst Koehler, a former German president, hosted a "round-table” discussion among the attendees at the first UN-hosted talks on the territory in six years, after meeting with them bilaterally earlier Wednesday.
The UN says the two-day meeting is a first step toward a renewed negotiations process aiming to "provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.”
Morocco annexed the former Spanish colony in 1975 and fought the pro-independence Polisario Front until a UN-brokered cease-fire in 1991. Morocco has proposed wide-ranging autonomy for Western Sahara, while the Polisario Front wants a referendum on the territory’s future.
WELLINGTON (AP) -- A powerful earthquake that struck in the southern Pacific Ocean on Wednesday sent jitters around the region after authorities warned of possible tsunamis, but there were no initial reports of destructive waves or major damage.
The magnitude 7.5 quake hit in the afternoon near New Caledonia at a shallow depth, where earthquakes are generally more damaging. It was felt as far away as Vanuatu.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said tsunami waves of between 1 and 3 meters were possible along some coasts of New Caledonia and Vanuatu.
SARAJEVO (Reuters) -- A Bosnian Serb ex-commander, who was jailed for 28 years by the UN war crimes tribunal for rape and enslavement in Bosnia’s war of the 1990s, has now been indicted over the killing of Muslim civilians, Bosnia’s prosecutors office said on Wednesday.
Dragoljub Kunarac, 58, who was the commander of a special unit of the Bosnian Serb army, is accused of taking part in killing of at least six people and torture and persecution of Muslim civilians from villages around the eastern Bosnian town of Foca in July 1992, the prosecutor said in a statement.
He is also accused of taking part in looting and burning down Muslim homes, the statement said.
Foca was notorious for the mass persecution and killings of Muslims by the Bosnian Serb forces as part of a campaign to form an exclusively Serb region, and for detention camps in which women and young girls were raped and enslaved.
SOFIA (AFP) -- Bulgarian police have busted a huge illegal weapons arsenal in a garage in the capital Sofia, seizing dozens of rifles, guns and pistols, the Interior Ministry announced Wednesday.
Sixty-five Kalashnikov rifles, 37 Scorpion guns and 43 pistols were seized in the operation conducted by the police's counter-terrorism unit over the weekend, the ministry's anti-organized crime chief Ivaylo Spiridonov told a press conference.
Police also found eight kilograms of highly explosive black powder, 14 rocket-propelled grenade launchers and tens of thousands of cartridges, he added.
The suspected ringleader of the weapons smuggling operation was held during the raids, along with six others.
Another 17 Kalashnikov rifles and 15 pistols equipped with silencers were also confiscated by police agents in the central town of Kazanlak, home to Bulgaria's biggest and oldest light arms and munitions maker Arsenal, where officials said the arms came from.