Pristina, Kosovo: June 10, 2014
On the eve of the day when NATO troops entered Kosovo back in 1999 as a result of the provisions of 1244 United Nations Resolution, KFOR commemorates the fallen soldiers of the KFOR mission.
15 years have elapsed since the beginning of the KFOR mission in Kosovo when around 55,000 soldiers from 36 countries were deployed to ensure the safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all citizens and bring peace to the country.
Thousands of soldiers over the years have come and gone in this mission, contributing with their commitment, dedication, professionalism and enthusiasm to make this part of the Balkans a better land, with the support of the international community to help the institutions grow in the name of democracy and pluralism.
KFOR has remained faithful to its founding principles, impartial, equidistant,resoluteand inspired by the values of democracy and dialogue.
We can say that the situation today is very much improved compared to 1999: security is granted for all citizens leaving aside ethnicity, religious beliefs, and language.
The central and local institutions in Kosovo have grown to the point that today the public safety is ensured by the Kosovo Police to which all citizens without distinction look with admiration and consider a firm point of reference: in this perspective, KFOR, as a third responder, consistent with the original mandate established by Resolution 1244, is present where needed, reassuring and preventing,still ready to intervene only when the situation gets worse.
A recent evidence of this tangible and substantial improvement was the general elections held on June the 8th, held in a peaceful anddemocratic manner without incidents: this event marked another milestone in the history of Kosovo with the participation of all the citizens in the democratic process as a sign of the maturity reached by people and by the local security organisations as well as by all Kosovoinstitutions.
The Kosovo Police played a central role due to the professionalism, efficiency and effectiveness demonstrated in ensuring the necessary security framework and the smooth conduct of the elections process both north and south of the Ibar River.
The constructive dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina with the mediation of the European Union, the support of all actors on the international stage, the United Nations with the UNMIK Mission, the European Union, EULEX and OSCE, the Ambassadors in Kosovo, the fertile information flow with the Chiefs of Defence of the neighboring countries and the substantial support of KFOR gavetheir fruits.
To sum up, the 5,500 soldiers of the 30 nations that make up today's KFOR's multinational contingent are sufficient to assure, in the role of third responder,the security and freedom of movement.
Ten times less forces than in the past, 10 times greater security than in 1999: "KFOR a success story for the success of Kosovo."
In this context, a solemn ceremony on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the entry of NATO troops in Kosovo, will remember the 136 KFOR soldiers from 16 nations who have offered their lives to the cause of freedom, peace for a better Kosovo, for a better Europe, for a better world for all citizens who can now live in a safe environment without distinction of race, language, ethnicity or religious belief.
Major General Salvatore Farina, KFOR Commander, with this simple but solemn ceremony together with all men and women of KFOR, wants all to remember the countless multitudes of soldiers of all nations who preceded.
The seeds that have been thrown with their work, dedication and sometimes ultimate sacrifice, have created theresults that we gather today: peace, security,freedom, pluralism and democracy, "More Together" for the future of Kosovo.