PRISTINA – Security in Kosovo has improved significantly over the last 15 years, said Pio Sabbeta, Chief Spokesperson of KFOR, for European Western Balkans.
Sabetta, who took over the post of KFOR spokesman in August, was already a spokesman for NATO troops in Kosovo in 2005 and also worked at SFOR between 1996 and 1998.
Comparing the situation then and now, Sabeta thinks that there has been an improvement in security in Kosovo.
“There have been significant improvements in terms of security, which is also reflected in a different KFOR structure. In 2005 we had almost 50.000 KFOR troops while nowadays we can successfully perform our mission with 3.500 soldiers from 28 different nations”, says Sabbeta.
He adds that KFOR’s presence is based on the current security situation and that the North Atlantic Council will decide on further changes of KFOR and its mission.
“KFOR remains a robust and credible force capable of carrying out its mission and is strongly committed to supporting all communities in Kosovo in an impartial manner, providing security for its entire people, facilitating reconciliation among ethnicities”, says Sabbeta.
He also commented on the public perception that there are some disagreements between KFOR and Serbia, evaluating that the cooperation of Serbia and KFOR as excellent.
“The cooperation and mutual activities with Serbian Armed Forces (SAF) are excellent through all the levels of responsibility starting from KFOR Commander and going down to the Units”, says Sabbeta, adding that KFOR Commander periodically meets the Chiefs of Defence of the countries bordering the KFOR Area of Responsibility to increase dialogue and mutual military understanding.
Sabbeta reminds that KFOR Joint Implementation Commission has almost daily contacts with its SAF counterpart and the cooperation is at a very high level. Furthermore, KFOR regularly carries out synchronized KFOR/SAF patrols along the Administrative Boundary Line to contribute in maintaining a peaceful and positive atmosphere.
Last week, the Austrian KFOR Deputy Commander Brigadier General Reinhard Ruckenstuhl has handed over the responsibility to the incoming Swiss Brigadier General Laurent Michaud.
Sabbeta also referred to the importance of the contributions of the Austrian and Swiss troops to KFOR mission and activities.
“In the Balkan region, the armies of Switzerland and Austria work closely together, within the NATO-led KFOR mission, and they are extremely committed to maintaining a safe and secure environment in Kosovo. They undoubtedly represent an important added value to the KFOR mission, as well as all the other contributing countries”, concluded Sabbeta for European Western Balkans.