According to an alliance official, peacekeepers in the area are “ready to act” in the case of a conflict with the Serb minority.
If licensing confrontations between local authorities and the Serb minority in Kosovo escalate amid an impasse over car licensing between Belgrade and Pristina, NATO is prepared to send extra troops to the region.
Brigadier General Luca Piperni, the deputy commander of the US-led coalition’s peacekeeping mission in Kosovo (KFOR), told journalists on Tuesday that coalition forces are “vigilant and ready to act” if tensions increase.
Piperni was reported by Reuters as adding, “We can also depend on reserve soldiers that we can bring in at short notice.”
Following last month’s declaration by the secretary general of NATO that the organization was prepared to step in if Kosovo’s “stability” was threatened, KFOR said in a statement that it would take “any measures that are necessary to ensure a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all the people of Kosovo.”
After Pristina implemented a law outlawing Serbian-issued identification cards and license plates for vehicles, tensions between Kosovo and Serbia grew back in August. Local Serbs protested by creating barricades and engaged in violent altercations with Pristina’s forces as Kosovo attempted to impose the new measure by sending heavily armed special police to seize control of the Serbia-Kosovo border.
The Pristina government decided to postpone the implementation of the new law in exchange for the demonstrators taking down their barricades after NATO forces were sent to calm the situation.
However, many license worries that hostilities will reemerge on the Serbia-Kosovo border as the deadline for the end of that postponement, October 31, draws near.
Aleksandar Vucic, the president of Serbia, has accused Pristina of endangering his nation’s security and raising the possibility of bloody conflicts in the area by expanding the number of special forces stationed near the border.
He has also criticized the EU for pressuring Belgrade to settle the dispute by working with Pristina to sign a deal that, in Vucic’s view, would effectively license worries recognized recognizing the breakaway region.
Kosovo proclaimed its independence in 2008 after receiving backing from the West. Serbia, Russia, China, the UN, and five EU member states have not, despite the US and many of its allies recognizing it as an independent country.
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