10th September 2014: OeKG Meeting

 

Synopsis of the presentation“KFOR XVIII and the way ahead”

“KFOR is a fundamental presence that contributes to the security and progress in Kosovo”.This statement was done by Madame President of Kosovo during a visit to HQ KFOR in May 2014.This is and will be the guideline KFOR as well as the International Community follows, executing their mandates for security, stability and prosperity in Kosovo.

 

KFOR has escorted Kosovo from the end of the conflict in June 1999 to the present under the UNSCR 1244 mandate for the benefit of all the people of Kosovo.

 

There have been many milestones in this time, each one marking a new phase on the road to stability and progress. 1999 KFOR deployed 50.000 troops at its height into the region and set about implementing its mandate to provide a Safe And Secure Environment (SASE) and Freedom Of Movement (FOM). From KFOR’s initial focus on providing relief and aid to the local population, ensuring the cessation of violence in the region, and also providing support to the refugees in the surrounding areas, KFOR has evolved through a number of major steps.

 

KFOR reduced its troops step by step to 5.500 in 2014, a reduction of almost ten times the original number. This is for sure a sign of great progress as Kosovo is at least ten times more secure today. KFOR today consists of Manoeuvre Forces which comprise two Multinational Battle Groups and two reserve forces at battalion level. KFOR’s link to the wider Kosovar population is achieved through the Joint Regional Detachments deployed all over Kosovo. Due to the improved security situation south of the Ibar-river, KFOR was able to reduce its Joint Regional Detachments from 5 to 3 by the end of 2013.

 

KFOR most recently has been part of greater progress in helping Kosovo’s improvement and has seen its efforts come to fruition in the success of Kosovo’s institutions, and advances at both local and regional level. The handover of Pec Patriarchate to the Kosovo Police in 2014 left only Decane Monastery, the last of Properties with Designated Special Status (PrDSS), in KFOR security.

 

In December 2013 custom tax was introduced at the crossing points Gate 1 and DOG 31, marking further progress in Pristina/Belgrade dialogue. DOG 31 and Gate 1 altered their posture to become lighter, more flexible and mobile, and Kosovo Police took over as front line security.

 

Kosovo underwent local and general elections. To support these events KFOR worked in close cooperation with the Kosovo Police, EULEX and the OSCE, deploying troops ready to intervene, if necessary. The elections passed off efficiently and peacefully, demonstrating the proficiency of the Kosovo Police and the democratic maturity of all the people in Kosovo.

 

To maintain the high standards and capabilities of our multinational force comprising many nations, a variety of expertise and a broad range of equipment, our troops have to train regularly. This to maintain and standardise drills, improve communications, and ensure the highest standards of interoperability. This is done on a permanent basis for KFOR troops as well as for participating troops and elements of Kosovo Police and EULEX.

 

Austria is contributing to the mission from the very beginning. As the 4st largest Troop Contributing Nation (TCN) Austrian soldiers are part of Manoeuvre Forces, Joint Logistic Support Elements, as well as Joint Regional Detachments. In OCTOBER 2014 an additional Infantry Company will arrive in theatre and will thereby raise the overall number of Austrian troops to some 500 soldiers.

 

For the next one year rotation of the KFOR Command Group Austria will once again provide a Brigadier General as the Deputy Commander KFOR (DCOM) as well as additional high level functions within nearly all KFOR elements.KFOR has already reduced its presence to the public by dismantling some permanent observation posts and changing the force posture from static to a more flexible one.

 

Any changes to KFOR will be condition based and for sure the force retains its multifunctional approach to allow appropriate reactions to any situation.

For the future of Kosovo we all hope that the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade will continue and that the Balkans will proceed with the plan to foster peace and further progress in this important area of Europe.Howsoever KFOR will remain a reassuring, dissuading and reactive force ready to fulfil its mandate as third responder in Kosovo.

 

BG WESSELY AntonAustrian Armed Forces

 

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Monika Zach from the Austrian Embassy also informed us about "Kosovo wants to play" and introduced us to this project for the acceptance of Kosovar athletes to participate in international competitions under Kosovo’s flag by showing us a short film. "Kosovo wants to play" is  using the Global Giving crowd funding platform, which you can check out here: http://www.globalgiving.org and the project is linked through the url: www.kosovowantstoplay.com

 

 

© Photos Roswitha Brieger

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