NATO ready to intervene in Kosovo – Stoltenberg
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has reiterated his promise that the bloc will intervene if “stability” is jeopardized in Kosovo during a press conference with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Wednesday.
”Should stability be jeopardized, KFOR stands ready to intervene and will take any measures that are necessary to ensure a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all the people of Kosovo,” he said.
The leader of the military alliance called on “all sides” to “show restraint and avoid violence,” arguing that diplomacy was the only way forward, even while threatening military intervention under the UN mandate if the two parties did not abide by the EU-mediated dialogue.
Stoltenberg is set to hold a meeting with Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti later on Wednesday, while Vucic and Kurti will meet on Thursday in Brussels to continue the dialogue.
Tensions between Serbia and Kosovo are running high after the province passed a law requiring Serbs to exchange their passports for special Kosovo-issued documents and switch out their Serbian license plates for plates issued in Kosovo.
Stoltenberg initially told Vucic that NATO would intervene in Kosovo in the event of stability being jeopardized during a phone call on August 3, echoing a communique from the NATO mission to Kosovo issued the previous week.
The announcement of the new law was accompanied by heavily armed special police taking control of two border crossings with Serbia, leading local Serbs to erect roadblocks in protest and Vucic’s government to issue a statement condemning Pristina’s behavior. NATO peacekeepers were deployed to defuse the tensions, and Kurti’s government agreed to delay the implementation of the new legislation in return for the protesters dismantling their barricades.
Russia has accused the West of fueling tensions between Serbia and its breakaway province, claiming the eruption was aimed at weakening the one European holdout from NATO and forcing it to adopt anti-Russian sanctions embraced by the rest of the continent. Kosovo, on the other hand, has blamed Russia for the escalation, arguing that Moscow is trying to distract from the war in Ukraine.