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Kosovo asks to increase the NATO contingent in the face of tensions with Serbia

Vienna, 12 Jan. The prime minister of Kosovo, the nationalist Albin Kurti, asked this Thursday in Vienna for an increase in the number of the international force led by NATO (KFOR) in his territory, given the tensions in recent months with Serbia.

Kurti made this request at a press conference together with the head of the Austrian government, Karl Nehammer, who expressed his willingness to increase the number of Austrian soldiers deployed in Kosovo, which in 2008 unilaterally proclaimed its independence from Serbia.

KFOR currently has about 3,800 troops, of which about 400 are Austrian. Although Austria is not part of NATO due to its neutrality, it does participate in the international mission in Kosovo due to its interest in the stability of the Balkans.

Pristina and Belgrade have experienced moments of tension on account of the rights of the Kosovar Serbs in northern Kosovo, who denounce a policy of discrimination and aspire to have some administrative autonomy.

Serbia and Kosovo agreed in 2013 on an association of Serb municipalities in northern Kosovo, where this minority is concentrated, within the normalization dialogue sponsored by the European Union, but that agreement has not been applied so far.

Kurti claims that such an association would violate the multi-ethnic Kosovar constitution.

“According to the constitution, which has granted many privileges to the Serb minority and which was proposed by Martti Ahtisaari, who won the Nobel Peace Prize, in its spirit it does not allow mono-ethnic association,” Kurti said.

The Kosovar prime minister, in any case, was open to continuing dialogue with Serbia to find a solution to the situation.

Both Serbia and Kosovo aspire to join the European Union and for this they need to normalize their relations.

Kosovo’s sovereignty has not been recognized by Serbia, nor by five EU countries: Spain, Romania, Greece, Cyprus and Slovakia.

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