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Dec 5 2023

Ulutas: We are ready to respond to any threat

In an exclusive interview with RTK Prime, the Commander of KFOR’s international peacekeepers, Özkan Ulutaş, stated that NATO troops are prepared to counter any potential violence in Kosovo. He noted that their presence in the north has quadrupled as a response to the changing situation since September 24. However, he reiterated that KFOR is the third responder in the country, following the Police and EULEX.

“Post September 24, the region has seen a rise in tensions due to the violent incident and unacceptable attacks on KFOR troops earlier in May. Consequently, NATO has deployed additional reserve forces with complementary capabilities,” emphasized the KFOR Commander. 

He further added that KFOR’s presence in northern Kosovo has quadrupled and the number of patrols along the administrative boundary line with Serbia has tripled. 

“Our objective is to prevent escalation, but we stand ready and equipped to take all necessary measures to fulfil our mandate,” stated General Ulutaş. 

He also discussed security in Kosovo, highlighting KFOR’s cooperation with the Kosovo Police and EULEX. 

In response to the liK Interior Minister, Xhelal Sveçla’s statement about the possibility of dealing with new destabilizing groups, the KFOR Commander mentioned his close cooperation with security institutions. He refrained from speculating on possible scenarios, but assured that KFOR remains vigilant and prepared for any development that could negatively impact the security environment.

The deployment of additional troops from Serbia near the administrative boundary line with Kosovo

On the issue of additional Serbian troops being deployed near the administrative boundary line with Kosovo, the KFOR Commander mentioned his close communication with the Serbian Chief of Defence. He stressed the importance of these communications in avoiding misunderstandings, especially during times of crisis and high tensions.If Serbia takes any action, KFOR Commander recalled his mandate in Kosovo and the region.

We are ready to respond to any challenge

Regarding the deployment of the KSF in the north, he stated that it was settled in the 2013 agreement. He emphasized that any KSF presence in the north requires KFOR’s approval, as clearly reiterated by the NATO Secretary General. 

He also recalled that NATO is considering a long-term increase of the peacekeeping contingent in Kosovo.

“We are positioned to effectively fulfil our UN mandate,” said COMKFOR, General Ulutaş, who reiterated his regular cooperation with the General Director of the Kosovo Police, Colonel Gazmend Hoxha. 

In the first interview given to the media, he also spoke about the competencies of KFOR as a third responder. 

In his first media interview, Özkan Ulutaş discussed the security situation in the region, the duties of KFOR, and the cooperation between KFOR, the Kosovo Police, and EULEX as a key factor in maintaining security. 

He spoke about his assigned role in a tense situation between Kosovo and Serbia, and his commitment as the Commander of KFOR in Kosovo in the daily implementation of the KFOR mandate from the UN to ensure a safe and secure environment for all people living in Kosovo. 

“KFOR has continuously proven its ability to adjust to various challenges. The mission of KFOR is clear, we operate in accordance with our mandate, based on UN Security Council Resolution 1244.” 

“KFOR remains the third security responder in Kosovo,” the Turkish General clarified.

General Ulutaş further emphasized that KFOR remains committed to providing a security framework for EU- facilitated dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia to move forward, as he believes it is the only way towards lasting peace and security.

Reference: RTK LIVE

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