KFOR Chronicle
Working Together for a Better Kosovo
By MSgt Tim Helton, USAF

August 10 - The Multi-National Brigade Center commander hosted 15 news agencies in his Pristina headquarters as the second stop on KFOR's media campaign. The campaign was developed to show the people of Kosovo what KFOR is actively doing to protect them and solicit everyone's commitment to the betterment of Kosovo.

The first stop was the press briefing room where Finnish Army Brigadier General Antti Ensio Lankinen, MNB Center commander, gave an overview of MNB Center's structure, mission and people. He said MNB-C covers an area with a population of nearly one million people including Albanians, Serbs and other ethnic minorities. He described the MNB Center force as a united multi-ethnic brigade.

"MNB Center is a multi-national and multi-ethnic organization comprising of soldiers from six countries. We have different lives, languages and traditions, but we are all united as part of one multi-national brigade,” said BG Lankinen.
The general described MNB Center's overall effort as smaller individual missions that include force protection, protection of minorities, protection of patrimonial sites and freedom of movement.

"We are all Europeans and as such live in multi-ethnic societies both at home and in Kosovo,” BG Lankinen said. “To be truly European, Kosovars must also embrace each other, accept their differences and become stronger."

However, MNB Center is not only made up of military forces. It also employs nearly 460 local Kosovars in positions such as interpreters, construction, librarians and those who work in the service industry.

"The non-military contributions KFOR makes to Kosovo include employment and investment of millions of euros into the economy and employing more than 2,000 people."

And to prove KFOR is more than just here to do a job, the general emphasized the fact that KFOR has supported United Nations Mission in Kosovo force and other non-governmental organizations in reconstruction and humanitarian projects.

"We've built nearly 200 kilometers of roads, reconstructed or repaired six major bridges, brought schools back into service and indirectly injected millions of euros back into the economy."

"Kosovo is full of young children, and these young people are bright, intelligent and are the future of Kosovo. They need good role models they can look up to and respect. They need good Kosovo people who are prepared to construct a truly multi-ethnic society."

After the briefing the journalists watched MNB Center's medal parade in which nearly 80 NATO peacekeepers received the NATO medal for their service to the security of Kosovo.

As for the future of Kosovo, the general said it will take more than KFOR, UNMIK and other civil organizations to help Kosovo find true peace.
"Real peace must be built by the people of Kosovo themselves. Mutual acceptance of the different ethnic groups is key to the future, which lies in a multi-ethnic and democratic Kosovo."