PRISTINA (Reuters) - Kosovo's prime minister proposed dissolving parliament on Tuesday and holding early elections on June 8 after Serb minority lawmakers nixed a vote on creating a national army by failing to show up.
Kosovo's Western backers, which recognised it as independent in 2008, had been reluctant to see the immediate creation of an army for fear of the message it might send to Serbia and the more than 100,000 ethnic Serbs who live in the country.
Parliament was supposed to hold the vote on Monday, but Kosovo's constitution states that two thirds of lawmakers had to vote as well as two thirds of the votes of minority members.
"A parliament that created circumstances where it cannot vote on the army of its country makes a nonsense of any other further proceedings," Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said at a news conference along with EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule, ahead of a meeting with President Atifete Jahjaga and the leaders of Kosovo's main parties to agree the election date.
The election had been set for November.
Thaci's proposal was for the landlocked country of 1.8 million, which borders Serbia, Albania, Montenegro and Macedonia, to have an army of 5,000 active soldiers and 3,000 reservists. It already has the nucleus of a future army in the lightly armed, 2,500-strong Kosovo Security Force, tasked with crisis response, civil protection and ordnance disposal.
Any new army would have to work alongside a NATO peace force of 5,000 soldiers. NATO's attempts to further cut back its presence has been thwarted by tensions in the north.
Serbia has agreed to cede its de facto control in that area in return for guaranteed rights for ethnic Serbs living there and the start of EU membership talks for Belgrade.
Kosovo has been unable to join the United Nations due to opposition from Russia - a Serbian ally and U.N. veto-holder.
Although Serbia does not recognise Kosovo as sovereign, relations between the two have improved over the past year with the agreement of a landmark EU-brokered accord.
(Editing by Louise Ireland)