NATO to Cut Troops in Kosovo

NATO’s Kosovo force, KFOR, will close 10 of its 28 military camps tarting from January.

Some 4,500 soldiers will leave Kosovo, leaving KFOR with around 10,000 peacekeepers.

Admiral Mark Fitzgerald, Commander of Joint Force Command in Naples, said in Belgrade on Wednesday that KFOR will be reduced next year due to security improvements in Kosovo.

“NATO looked at the security situation and said we are satisfied and we will look at further reductions depending on the situation,” Fitzgerald told reporters in Belgrade.

Before Belgrade, admiral Fitzgerlad visited Kosovo on November 15 and met KFOR commander Markus Bentler, Kosovo premier Hashim Thaci, the minister for Kosovo Security Force Fehmi Mujota and Pieter Feith, of the International Civilian Office.

Admiral Fitzgerald said that EULEX and Kosovo Police will gradually take over from KFOR.

“We could very well continue to see challenges associated with these changes, but I urge all citizens to practise restraint. KFOR and EULEX will not allow violence in Kosovo,” Admiral Fitzgerald told journalists.

KFOR is training the 2,500 active members and 800 reserves of KSF, building its capacities, and helping with infrastructure and equipment.

“I renew my appeal to all who wish to serve, most notably the minorities, please let your efforts contribute to the success of this effort, the KSF needs your support,” said Fitzgerald.

“KFOR will continue to ensure a safe and secure environment in which effective multi-ethnic government institutions can serve all the people of Kosovo,” said the Admiral.

NATO deployed 50,000 troops in Kosovo in June 1999 and since then has been gradually decreasing its military contingent in Kosovo.

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