WORLD Serbia seeks NATO approval to return its troops to Kosovo


Serbia seeks NATO approval to return its troops to Kosovo


14:42, December 16, 2022

The Serbian government will ask the NATO peacekeeper commander to allow the country to send up to 1,000 police and army personnel to Kosovo, President Aleksandar Vucic said on Thursday.

It is the first time Belgrade has requested to deploy troops in Kosovo since a United Nations Security Council resolution ended the 1998 to 1999 war, during which NATO bombed rump-Yugoslavia comprising Serbia and Montenegro to protect Albanian-majority Kosovo.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic speaks during a press conference, in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. (Photo: AP)

"The government will ask for the return of hundreds and no more than 1,000 army and police troops," Vucic said, adding that they will email the request this evening and physically hand it to KFOR, the NATO mission in Kosovo, at a border crossing on Friday.

"I do not expect to get a positive answer," Vucic said.

The request comes during a spate of clashes between Kosovo authorities and Serbs in the northern region, where they constitute a majority.

The UN resolution states that Serbia may be allowed, if approved by KFOR, to station its personnel at border crossings, Orthodox Christian religious sites and areas with Serb majorities.

In 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia with Western backing. Its independence is recognized by 110 countries but not by Serbia, Russia and five European Union (EU) member states.

Both Serbia and Kosovo want to join the EU, but Brussels said they must resolve their disputes and normalize their relations.

"We are all witnessing Serbia's constant threat to Kosovo," Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani told the parliament on Thursday. She warned the Serbian side that the presence of the Serbian army in Kosovo ended "once and for all" in 1999.

Tensions between Serbia and Kosovo flared during the past week after Serbs in northern Kosovo blocked the region's main roads to protest the arrest of a former Serb policeman and fires exchanged between the Serb protesters and Kosovo police.

Serbia said its troops have been on combat readiness on the border with Kosovo to protect the minority Serbs in Kosovo.

(with input from agencies)

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