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NATO in Kosovo - the evolution of KFOR

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Learn how NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR) continues to help support the development of a democratic, multi-ethnic and peaceful Kosovo.

Synopsis

For 20 years, NATO has had an active military presence in Kosovo. Today, the NATO-led international Kosovo Force, or KFOR, continues to play a key role - helping maintain peace and security in Kosovo.
KFOR’s mission is to contribute to a safe and secure environment, support the development of a stable, democratic, multi-ethnic and peaceful Kosovo and help with the development of the Kosovo police and security forces.
NATO takes a look at how the Alliance’s role in Kosovo has developed, working with local communities, training with the Kosovo Police and conducting crowd riot control training.

Transcript

--VOICEOVER—
This is the Kosovo Force, or KFOR, an operational NATO-led force of multinational troops that has played a key role in ensuring Kosovo’s security for the past 20 years.

--SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH)--
JETA XHARRA, BROADCAST JOURNALIST
“NATO’s presence in Kosovo has been a major factor of stability so far.”

--VOICEOVER—
To understand why an international military presence is required here, we must first understand Kosovo’s cultural make-up and its recent history.

Located in the Western Balkans, Kosovo is home to diverse ethnic groups, including Kosovo Albanians and Kosovo Serbians. And while they share geographical location, they speak different languages and practise different religions. Today these ethnic groups live side by side in relative peace. However, that hasn’t always been the case.

--VOICEOVER--
In 1998, open conflict between Serbian military and police forces and Kosovo Albanian forces broke out, resulting in thousands of deaths.

--SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH)—
JONATHAN PARISH - NATO DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY GENERAL FOR OPERATIONS
“The conflict in Kosovo did not come suddenly. Its origins lie in the repressive policies that were pursued by the Milošević regime against the Kosovo Albanians. These policies led to terrible human rights abuses in Kosovo.”

--VOICEOVER--
President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Slobodan Milošević's policy of ethnic cleansing also left hundreds of thousands of Kosovo Albanians displaced.
In 1999, NATO stepped in, launching an air campaign to halt the human catastrophe unfolding in Kosovo.


--SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH)—
JONATHAN PARISH - NATO DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY GENERAL FOR OPERATIONS
“Throughout the crisis there had been numerous attempts to solve the conflict through diplomatic means. President Milošević was not interested. Meanwhile the conflict had created this dire humanitarian crisis. It was threatening the stability of the region and NATO’s intervention was therefore necessary.”



--VOICEOVER—
In June 1999, the conflict ended, and to help support peace in the region a NATO-led force of 50,000 troops was initially deployed and KFOR was formed.



--SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH)—
MAJOR GENERAL LORENZO D’ADDARIO, KFOR COMMANDER
“Nowadays violence has stopped. The situation is certainly a lot better, but it needs to improve even more. But when I look back at the times past that I’ve come, now I see there are institutions, there’s a democratic life. It’s still developing but it has gone oceans from where we were in 1999.”


--VOICEOVER—

In the years since, KFOR has decreased in number from 50,000 to just 3,500, but the mandate remains the same, to impartially provide a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all the inhabitants of Kosovo.




--VOICEOVER--
The scars of the Kosovo conflict remain visible but Kosovo’s diverse ethnicities often live together in mixed communities. There are also Serbian enclaves dotted throughout Kosovo. Places like Gračanica/Gracanicë, on the outskirts of Kosovo’s capital, Priština/Prishtinë, home to Serbian restaurant owner Milorad Nikolić.

--SOUNDBITE (SERBIAN WITH ENGLISH SUBS)—
MILLORAD NIKOLIC, RESTAURANT OWNER
“The bombing and the aggression that was inflicted on us, the persecution of my people, made us hate NATO. But, with the current situation here in Kosovo, for the wellbeing of the people, the presence of NATO and all other organisations that provide us with peace is good for safety. Because now all we care about, I hope Serbians and Albanians as well, is having peace in the Balkans.”-

--VOICEOVER—
KFOR works with all of Kosovo’s ethnicities and today 28 NATO Allied and partner nations contribute personnel, many of whom are deployed to bases throughout Kosovo. Others such as this Swiss Liaison and Monitoring Team, stay in field houses, living among the local communities.

--SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH)—
1st LIEUTENANT LUCA JARRELL, KFOR LIAISON AND MONITORING TEAM
“Now we’re in Mitrovica/Mitrovicë North. This is the majority of Kosovo Serbians living here. What we do is to feel the pulse of the population and make the bridge between the KFOR and the population. Some days people have more issues, some days they have less, but in general people regard us as welcome, I would say.”

--VOICEOVER—
Liaison and Monitoring Teams from different nations carry out pulse patrols across Kosovo, interacting with local people and providing KFOR with situational awareness at ground level.

--SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH)—
MAJOR GENERAL LORENZO D’ADDARIO, KFOR COMMANDER
“Twenty years back, people really had to run for their lives. Nowadays you have a different dynamic, you have children going to school, people just going on with university, business starting and trying to prosper, so this is what we want to see.”


--VOICEOVER—
Despite the improvement of the security situation in Kosovo, KFOR troops must be ready in case they’re called out to a crisis situation. These Hungarian troops are conducting crowd and riot control, or CRC, training.

--SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH)—
MAJOR ATTILA NAGY, KFOR TACTICAL RESERVE BATTALION
“Luckily we haven’t conducted a CRC operation yet during our tour, but of course we have to improve ourselves for a real situation. That’s why we conducted these types of trainings.”

--VOICEOVER—
Although KFOR hasn’t been called out to a case of civil unrest since 2011, there are other risks that pose a threat to the population that require KFOR’s expertise.

--VOICEOVER—
Scattered throughout Kosovo are thousands of old remnants of war, unexploded ordnance that could cause serious injury or death if handled incorrectly. KFOR explosive ordnance disposal teams such as this US one help to clear large areas of old explosives.

--SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH)--
SERGEANT 1st CLASS BENJAMIN AROLD, KFOR EXPLOSIVE ORDNANCE DISPOSAL TEAM
“We find a lot of mortars, projectiles, old submunitions, that kind of thing. Sometimes mines too.”

--VOICEOVER—
KFOR EOD teams also train closely with the Kosovo Police, so that when they work together on active operations, they’re familiar with each other’s procedure.

--SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH)—
1st LIEUTENANT TAYLOR MARTIN, COMMANDER, KFOR EOD TEAM
“If they get called on something, then we need to know what they’re capable of so that if the worst happens and we get called in as a back-up, then we know what we’re going into.”

--SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH)--
ISLAM UKA, KOSOVO POLICE
“Thirteen years that we continuously cooperate and make joint trainings together because this is a very dangerous job so you have to be all the time under caution so you don’t make any mistake.”


--VOICEOVER—
Since the conflict ended in 1999, KFOR has worked with both the UN and the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo, known as EULEX, to help the Kosovo authorities build an integrated police force that reflects the society it polices. Today the Kosovo Police is a fully functional force and the first responder in an emergency. They have also taken over, from KFOR, the security for some of Kosovo’s religious heritage sites, such as this one, the Patriarchal Monastery of Peć/Pejë, an important symbol of Serbian Orthodox faith.

--SOUNDBITE—
MAJOR GENERAL LORENZO D’ADDARIO, KFOR COMMANDER
“In 1999 of course there was no police, there was only an international presence. Nowadays it is a force that is manned both by Kosovo Albanians and Kosovo Serbs so it’s multi-ethnic and ensures policing in all areas of Kosovo.”


--VOICEOVER--

NATO’s international forces in Kosovo have become an important part of its security, but a stable Kosovo remains a challenge.

There are places, like the northern town of Mitrovica/Mitrovicë, where tensions remain. Split by the river Ibar and policed on both sides, Mitrovica/Mitrovicë is physically and ethnically divided. The northern part is Kosovo Serbian and the southern Kosovo Albanian.

Despite freedom of movement across the bridge, Mitrovica/Mitrovicë is a reminder that there is still tension between Kosovo’s different ethnicities and that KFOR’s presence as an impartial, peace-support force is still required.

--SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH)--
MAJOR GENERAL LORENZO D’ADDARIO, KFOR COMMANDER
“The task of KFOR is one of being responsible for security here and let me stress, the security is very important because although the solution that will need to be achieved is a political solution, without security there cannot be a dialogue and without a dialogue we cannot get to this political solution, so very much the military will be required here until we bring to bear the ultimate political resolution.”



--VOICEOVER—
Over time, the security situation in Kosovo has greatly improved and NATO has gradually adjusted KFOR's force posture towards a smaller and more flexible force. In addition, the Kosovo institutions and authorities have taken increasing responsibility for security.


--SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH)--
JETA XHARRA, BROADCAST JOURNALIST
“Inter-ethnic tensions in Kosovo have died down by the standards of a post-war country. Today neither the media, neither the society is in the mood to multiply hatred even if an inter-ethnic incident happens.”


--VOICEOVER--
And while challenges remain, KFOR continues to help Kosovo work towards a more secure future, and build an enduring peace that benefits all of Kosovo’s communities.
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Reference
NATO787115
ID
1276