NATO marks fifteen years of providing security in Kosovo
Fifteen years ago this week, a NATO-led force (called Kosovo Force or KFOR) was deployed to Kosovo to contribute to maintaining a safe and secure environment, under a mandate provided by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244. KFOR’s initial functions were to establish a secure environment and ensure public safety and order, demilitarise the Kosovo Liberation Army, support the international humanitarian effort, and support the international civil presence.
Over time, KFOR’s functions have expanded to include assisting the return and relocation of displaced persons and refugees, providing medical assistance, protecting patrimonial sites, interdicting weapons-smuggling across the border and helping in the stand down of the Kosovo Protection Corps and the establishment of the Kosovo Security Forces and a civilian structure to oversee them. In carrying out its mission in Kosovo, NATO has been cooperating with the United Nations, the European Union, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and other international actors.
The general election this month is clear evidence of tangible and substantial improvements. National security forces and institutions ensured that the election was conducted in an orderly and secure fashion. Over the years, security responsibility over all religious and cultural heritage sites has been transferred from KFOR to the Kosovo Police. Finally, progress has been made in the normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina, through a dialogue held under the auspices of the European Union. NATO and KFOR are supporting the implementation of this agreement within KFOR’s existing mandate.
Major General Farina, the Commander of KFOR, presided over a solemn ceremony in Pristina to commemorate those 136 KFOR soldiers from 16 nations who offered their lives for peace and security in Kosovo and in the wider region.