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KFOR «ready to intervene» if Kosovo’s stability is put at risk

News 360 logo News 360 7/31/2022 Newsroom
KFOR Tanque in Kosovo - LYNN GREYLING © Provided by News 360 KFOR Tanque in Kosovo - LYNN GREYLING

NATO's Kosovo Force (KFOR) announced late Sunday that it "stands ready to intervene" in the event that the stability of northern Kosovo is endangered, after Serbs in northern Kosovo cut off two border crossings linking the region to Serbia.

"KFOR will take all necessary measures to maintain a safe and secure environment in Kosovo at all times, in accordance with its UN mandate," it said in a statement on its Twitter account, following the rise in tensions in northern Kosovo in recent hours.

The dispute was initiated in protest against the entry into force on Monday of a new Kosovar regulation on identity cards and license plates by which those entering the country from Serbia will have to hand over their Serbian identity cards for Pristina-issued IDs valid for three months.

Likewise, car license plates issued by Serbia for Kosovar cities with a majority Serb population will have to be replaced by official Kosovo license plates as of August 1. These measures reciprocate the policy applied by Serbia to Kosovo citizens visiting Serbia, according to Radio Free Europe.

Until now Kosovo has considered license plates with the initials of the cities of Kosovska Mitrovica (KM), Pristina (PR) or Urosevac (UR) to be illegal, but has tolerated their use in the four Serbian-majority municipalities. License plates will now have to bear the acronym of the Republic of Kosovo (RKS). The deadline for the change is September 30.

For this reason, KFOR has assured that it is ready to intervene in the event that stability in northern Kosovo is put at risk, and has recalled that NATO "closely monitors" the situation in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1244 of 1999.

"The NATO-led KFOR mission is focusing on the daily implementation of its UN mandate to ensure a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for the entire population of Kosovo. KFOR maintains a visible and agile posture on the ground, and the KFOR Commander is in contact with all its key interlocutors, including representatives of Kosovo's security organizations and the Serbian Chief of Defense," the unit detailed in the briefing.

In this regard, NATO has shown its full support for the normalization process between Pristina and Belgrade through the dialogue facilitated by the European Union, and called on all parties to continue negotiations.

"It is important that this continues. It is essential for regional peace and security. There will be no real prospects for a better future in the Balkans without full respect for human rights and democratic values, the rule of law, internal reforms and good neighborly relations. Constructive dialogue is key to regional stability," KFOR added in its letter.

The conflict between the two sides started in September 2021, when Kosovo ordered all drivers entering the country from Serbia to use temporary license plates valid for 60 days, a measure that was already in force for drivers entering Serbia from Kosovo since 2008.

Five EU countries, including Spain, do not recognize Kosovo's 2008 unilateral declaration of independence. The EU, however, mediates in the negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina, on which the generalized normalization of relations and the possibilities of accession of both countries to the community bloc depend.

The diplomatic initiative of the EU, which reactivated the dialogue process in 2020, seeks that the two parties normalize their relations in binding terms and according to international standards, something it considers a 'sine qua non' condition for the European path.


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