On 5 June, NATO reinforcements began their deployment to Kosovo in response to the recent outbreak of violence.
The clashes, which took place last week, resulted in nearly 40 Kosovo Force (KFOR) peacekeepers being injured. NATO issued a statement on May 29 condemning the attacks.
The majority of the NATO reinforcements will consist of around 500 Turkish soldiers from Turkey’s 65th Mechanized Infantry Brigade. The Turkish Battalion will remain deployed in Kosovo for an indefinite period of time as long as its presence is necessary, according to a NATO statement. In response to the escalation, NATO has also put an additional battalion of reserve forces on alert, ready to deploy if needed.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expressed his gratitude to the Turkey on sending additional troops to Kosovo, following talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul on June 4. According to Mr. Stoltenberg, “Turkey is an important and valuable Ally, making significant contributions to NATO.” He added that amid heightened tensions, the deployment of troops for the peacekeeping mission in Kosovo is becoming increasingly critical.
During an informal meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers held in Oslo last week, the Secretary General conveyed a message to both Belgrade and Pristina. He stressed the importance of participating in good faith in the dialogue facilitated by the EU, as “this is the only path to peace”. He added that NATO bears the responsibility of maintaining stability in Kosovo and that is why the organization has been present in the region for several years and is now expanding its presence.
The KFOR mission in Kosovo
Tensions between Belgrade and Pristina have risen in recent months as Serbia refuses to recognize Kosovo’s sovereignty.
For more than two decades, NATO has led a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo as part of an international effort to establish lasting peace and security in the region. KFOR’s mission in Kosovo, now supported by 4,200 troops from 27 NATO Allies and partners, is to ensure the security and freedom of movement of all communities residing in the region.
On 12 June 1999, KFOR deployed to Kosovo after a 78-day air campaign. In March 1999, the Alliance launched an air campaign aimed at ending the ongoing humanitarian crisis.
In an effort to maintain peace and stability in Kosovo, several goals have been set. These include preventing any further aggression or intimidation by Yugoslav and Serbian forces, ensuring the safety and security of the public, disarming the Kosovo Liberation Army, assisting the international humanitarian effort, and cooperating with and assisting the international presence of citizens.
As the security situation has improved, NATO is adapting the KFOR force posture to become smaller and more flexible, with fewer static tasks. As the security situation on the ground continues to evolve, the North Atlantic Council is responsible for making all decisions regarding adjustments to KFOR’s force posture. KFOR works in partnership with the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU) and other international entities to help build a stable, democratic, multi-ethnic and peaceful Kosovo.
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