Updated: 03-Jul-2002 Week of 24-30 June 2002

27 June 2002

Troop reduction is a testimony to progress in Kosovo says Secretary General

During a one-day visit to the province on 27 June 2002, Lord Robertson welcomed the progress made in Kosovo and said that the fact that NATO can now reduce the number of troops in the area is a testimony to that progress.

In May 2002 NATO began rationalising its presence in the Balkans. A part of that process is the reduction in size of KFOR, the NATO-led international force responsible for establishing a security presence in Kosovo. "Reduction is simply designed to give us a greater flexibility to use the 60,000 troops in the Balkans", Lord Robertson said at a press conference following his meeting with Dr Bajram Rexhepi, the Prime Minister of Kosovo.

The Secretary General said that KFOR would leave sufficient troops to guarantee the safety and security of the all people in Kosovo and encourage refugee returns. He added that the reduction should be considered alongside the increased effectiveness of the Kosovo Police Service. "Many of the policing roles initially carried out by KFOR are now firmly in the hands of the civil authorities and KFOR's role in these areas is diminishing as the civic institutions grow and strengthen", he said.

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