Turkey is preparing to take command of NATO forces in Kosovo

World » SOUTHEAST EUROPE | June 8, 2023, Thursday // 16:38
Bulgaria: Turkey is preparing to take command of NATO forces in Kosovo @Wikimedia Commons

Turkey is preparing to take command of NATO forces in Kosovo. This will take place as part of a planned rotation in the autumn after the worst clashes in the region in a decade.

Turkey, which has the second-largest military in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization after the United States, will take over KFOR from Italy in October. "The transfer of powers has been under consideration for some time, but the final decision was made only recently," notes Bloomberg. The Turkish Ministry of Defense and NATO representatives have not yet commented on the information.

Yesterday it was decided to extend the EU mission in Kosovo - EULEX.

Earlier, at NATO's request, Turkey deployed a battalion of commandos to Kosovo following protests that injured 30 peacekeepers. The incident jeopardized the long-standing process of normalizing ties between Serbia and Kosovo at a critical time when the European Union and NATO allies are focused on Russia's war in Ukraine. The Alliance sent 700 soldiers as reinforcements. The 65th motorized rifle brigade of Turkey's special forces arrived in Kosovo as part of the reinforcement of NATO forces deployed in the region. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the decision to send Turkish troops to Kosovo amid the escalation in the region after consulting the leadership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, almost a decade after the war there ended with the expulsion of Serbian forces from NATO. The military alliance has stationed peacekeeping forces there since the war. KFOR currently has about 3,800 troops in Kosovo, down from about 50,000 at the height of its presence in the country.

The mission demonstrates Turkey's commitment to similar NATO efforts and also highlights its historical and ethnic ties to the Balkans, which were once part of the domain of its predecessor, the Ottoman Empire.

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Tags: turkey, NATO, KFOR, kosovo

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