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European Western Balkans
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Bulgaria and Slovenia strengthening presence in KFOR, Albania extends participation until 2027

Photo: Bulgarian Defence Ministry

On 21 March Bulgarian Defence Ministry organised a ceremonial send-off for a military contingent of 100 soldiers who will further strengthen NATO’s mission in Kosovo – KFOR. As stated by Bulgarian authorities, the contingent completed training as part of 42nd Mechanised Battalion – Jambol, and was assessed as “combat ready”.

The Council of Ministers of Albania has decided last week to extend the participation of its armed forces in KFOR until 2027, with soldiers rotating every six months or year. The decision to extend the mission applies from 31 December of this year until 31 December 2027. As a NATO member, Albania currently has 90 members in KFOR mission. The decision also changes the per diem for the days of stay, as it goes from around 60 euros per day to 120 euros per day, in addition to the monthly salary.

Slovenian authorities have announced their intention to increase their presence in KFOR during the meeting between Slovenian PM with NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg. Stoltenberg has welcomed Slovenia’s efforts to strengthen its presence in KFOR and increase defence spending.

Slovenian PM Robert Golob said that a more concrete plan has not yet been adopted, but Slovenia has expressed willingness to contribute more, especially to the stability of the Western Balkans region. Now, Slovenia participates in KFOR mission with 103 soldiers.

Photo: NATO

Currently, the KFOR mission consists of 4,443 personnel from 28 countries. After tensions in September of last year, around 1000 additional soldiers were deployed to Kosovo and the number of KFOR positions in the north was increased.

In September of last year, an armed group attacked Kosovo police in the north, resulting in the death of one police officer. Responsibility for the incident, which also resulted in the deaths of three attackers, was claimed by the politician and businessman Milan Radoičić, who is currently in Serbia.

After Kosovo Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, published a video on X and claimed that vehicles and soldiers of the Serbia Armed Forces are near the Kosovo border, KFOR stated on Friday that that the security situation in Kosovo is “calm but fragile“, and called on Kosovo and Serbia to refrain from de-escalating and divisive rhetoric.

„We have also tripled the number of patrols, including on the administrative border line“, KFOR stated. It is added that the goal of the NATO is to stop de-escalation and that NATO is ready and ecquipped to take all measures to fulfill UN mandate to ensure a safe environment for all people living in Kosovo.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg launched his annual report for 2023 on 14 March, which covers all aspects of the Alliance’s work over the past year. In the part related to the Western Balkans, it is stated that  NATO’s presence in Kosovo remains crucial for the stability of the Western Balkans region.

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