NATO deploys 700 more soldiers to Kosovo

Oslo, (BLAZETRENDS).- The NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, announced Tuesday that the Alliance has decided to reinforce its mission in Kosovo, known as KFOR, with the deployment of 700 additional soldiers.

This announcement comes after thirty soldiers from that operation were injured after intervening to contain the violent protests by Serbs in northern Kosovo, who refuse to accept the authority of the new mayors of four municipalities where they are the majority.

“We have decided to deploy 700 more soldiers from the Operational Reserve Forces for the Western Balkans,” Stoltenberg told a news conference with Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre in Oslo.

Another battalion on alert

He added that another battalion of reserve forces has also been placed on alert “so that they can be deployed if necessary.”

“These are prudent steps to ensure that the KFOR mission has the forces and capabilities it needs to fulfill its mandate,” the politician asserted.

Violence ‘sets Kosovo back’

He noted that the violence “sets Kosovo and the entire region back, and puts Euro-Atlantic aspirations at risk.”

He added that both Serbia and Kosovo must take “concrete steps to de-escalate the situation, refrain from further irresponsible behavior and engage in dialogue facilitated by the European Union, which is the only path to lasting peace.”

NATO condemnation

As NATO already did on Monday, Stoltenberg reiterated the Alliance’s condemnation of the attacks against the military of its peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.

“We strongly condemn the unprovoked attacks on KFOR soldiers in northern Kosovo, which injured thirty peacekeepers. Such attacks are unacceptable and must stop”, he stated.

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NATO will take “necessary actions”

He stressed that NATO soldiers in Kosovo will take “all necessary actions to maintain a safe environment for all citizens” in the Balkan territory.

“We will continue to act impartially in line with our United Nations mandate,” he commented.

30 NATO soldiers wounded last Monday

The tension continues today in the north of Kosovo after the clashes that on Monday left 30 NATO soldiers injured and 50 Serb demonstrators who reject the authority of the mayors of four municipalities where they are the majority.

Despite being a majority in those four municipalities, Serbs are a minority in Kosovo. The mayors belong to the Albanian majority of the country.

The councilors were elected last April in an election that the Serbs boycotted and in which participation barely exceeded 3%.

KFOR soldiers, the NATO mission in Kosovo, deployed this morning in front of the City Hall building in Zvecan, where violent protests took place yesterday, as well as in the town of Leposavic.

Not recognized by Serbia

Kosovo, a former Serbian province populated by a large majority of Albanians, proclaimed its independence in 2008, which Serbia does not recognize.

Both countries are negotiating the normalization of their relations on a new plan of the European Union, supported by the United States, in a process frequently interrupted by the outbreak of tensions.

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