Serbia will Request Permission to Deploy its Troops in Kosovo
The Serbian government will ask the commander of NATO peacekeeping forces to allow the country to send up to 1,000 police and army personnel to Kosovo, said President Aleksandar Vucic on Thursday, Reuters reported.
It is the first time Belgrade has sought to deploy troops to Kosovo since a UN Security Council resolution ended the 1998-99 war.
"The government will request the return of hundreds and no more than 1,000 army and police personnel," Vucic said, adding that the request would be emailed in the evening and physically delivered to KFOR, the NATO mission in Kosovo, at a border crossing in Friday.
"I don't expect to get a positive answer," noted Vucic.
The request comes amid a series of clashes between Kosovo authorities and Serbs in the northern region, where they are the majority.
The UN resolution states that Serbia may be allowed, if approved by KFOR, to deploy personnel at border posts, Orthodox religious sites and areas with a Serbian majority.
In 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia with the support of the West. It is recognized by 110 countries, including Bulgaria, but not by Serbia, Russia and five countries - members of the European Union.
"We have all witnessed Serbia's constant threat to Kosovo," Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani told parliament on Thursday.
"Serbia and its leader Vucic know very well that the presence of the Serbian army on the territory of Kosovo ended once and for all on June 12, 1999," she emphasized.
Serbia wants to join the EU, but to complete the process, it needs to resolve the problems with Kosovo. Kosovo applied for EU membership on Thursday.
Both sides agreed to an EU-facilitated dialogue in 2013, but little progress has been made.
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