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10 Dec, 2022 19:40

Serbia to seek troop deployment in Kosovo

As ethnic Albanian forces crack down on the province’s Serb minority, Belgrade expects NATO to ignore its concerns
Serbia to seek troop deployment in Kosovo

Serbia will request that its forces be deployed to Kosovo amid an Albanian-led crackdown on the province’s Serb population, President Aleksandar Vucic said on Saturday. Vucic added that he expects Kosovo’s NATO backers to reject the request.

“We will send a request to the KFOR commander to ensure the deployment of members of the army and police of the Republic of Serbia to the territory of Kosovo and Metohija,” said Vucic, referring to the NATO-led Kosovo Force mission in the province.

Under Resolution 1244 of the United Nations Security Council, Serbia has a right to send military and police personnel to Kosovo in certain situations, including in the event that the “peaceful and normal life” of its population there becomes threatened.

Kosovo has been occupied by NATO forces since the bloc intervened to drive Yugoslav troops out of the province in 1999. Given this occupation, and Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008, Vucic said that KFOR will likely reject his request, even though “it is an obligation for KFOR.”

Ethnic Albanian authorities in Kosovo sent hundreds of police officers into the majority-Serb northern district of Kosovska Mitrovica on Thursday, a violation of a 2013 deal between Belgrade and Pristina. Kosovo police seized 42,000 liters of wine from a Serb-run winery in Velika Hoca the same day, and sent riot police units into a kindergarten in Leposavic a day earlier.

The incidents are the latest flare-ups since Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti announced a ban on Serbian license plates in July, citing a 2013 agreement governing relations between Belgrade and Pristina. Serbia considers the agreement a step towards recognizing Kosovo’s independence, and has not ratified it. 

Vucic claimed on Saturday that Kosovo plans to submit an application next week for membership of the European Union. He said that Serbia opposes this plan, as “only sovereign and independent states can request admission,” of which Kosovo is neither. Moreover, five EU countries, including Spain and Greece, do not recognize Kosovo as an independent state.