On 20 april Spiegel published an article on the emission of more German troops to Kosovo. Hereby an English translation.
Two weeks before the elections in Serbia threatens new violence, NATO fears for an escalation in northern Kosovo. According to SPIEGEL ONLINE sources, it has therefore asked in the German army for the emission of a rapid reaction force. Berlin has complied with the request.
Berlin - The German army sends on urgent request of NATO, again and in the short term, a 550 man strong German intervention force to the Balkans. Amplified by 150 Austrians should the Operational Reserve Force (ORF) prevent a feared escalation of violence in northern Kosovo around the elections in Serbia on 5 May. On Friday evening advised the Joint Operations Command in Potsdam selected parliamentarians that they have agreed to the desire of the commander of NATO troops in Kosovo, KFOR, to transfer the ORF. This was only a few weeks ago gradually withdrawal from Kosovo have been. Now it should, according to planning, from 1 May again be ready to use on site.
The deployment of the task force illustrates the tensions between Serbia and Kosovo. For months there are between Belgrade, that still regards Kosovo as a renegade region, and Pristina dispute over the elections. Originally Belgrade wanted to open polling stations in the Serb majority municipalities in Kosovo , but this was canceled. Now it rumbles in north Kosovo. "With the presently irreconcilable positions of Serbia and Kosovo to carry out the elections and the already volatile situation in northern Kosovo, there is the danger of escalation," said the Joint Operations Command. There was "considerable potential for conflict" for the entire Kosovo.
Currently, NATO has deployed about 5,800 soldiers of the KFOR troops in the Balkans, about 1,300 of them are provided by Germany. Basically, the task of the international troops there since the beginning of the operation in 1999 in the prevention of new conflicts between Kosovo and Serbia. In recent months, the actually planned further reduction of the international units of NATO was very questionable, as the situation in Kosovo worsened rather than relaxed. As recent as February Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere (CDU) called the situation in Kosovo difficult and a reduction of the units therefore not currently possible.
The task force ORF was recently recalled after a first emergency operation in Kosovo in Germany. In August of last year, the German commander of KFOR troops had first requested it due to the growing tensions in Kosovo. Background at that time were disputes about responsibilities concerning border controls between Serbia and Kosovo. Now the soldiers of the ORF must again turn out in the direction of Kosovo. The force will be composed from the NBC Defence Regiment 750 from Bruchsal and parts of the Artillery Battalion 295 from Immendingen.
Let's hope that this time these troops will do real peacekeeping instead of imposing Pristina's agenda.