In an official Twitter post on Monday, the Turkish Ministry confirmed that the first convoy of the commando battalion belonging to the 65th Mechanized Infantry Brigade Command has arrived in Kosovo. From previous information, it can be concluded that the international forces will be supplemented by a total of around 500 Turkish soldiers.
Last Tuesday, NATO announced that it would strengthen its forces in the region. KFOR currently consists of almost 3,800 soldiers, of whom about 350 came from Turkey.
The request to send additional troops came from the NATO Combined Forces Command in Naples.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced in Oslo last week that the alliance is sending more than 700 troops to Kosovo to control violence among the ethnically divided population in the northern, Serb-majority areas.
NATO maintains its vigilance. We will be there to ensure a safe and stable environment and to calm tempers and reduce tension.
– said Stoltenberg, who also called violence against NATO troops “totally unacceptable”.
Early mayoral elections were held in four municipalities in northern Kosovo on April 23, because the local leaders resigned in November due to a dispute between Serbia and Kosovo. The majority of Serbs boycotted the early elections, so the participation rate was 3.47 percent, and based on the votes cast, the settlements may be led by Albanian mayors in the future. The local Serbs and Belgrade do not consider it acceptable that the election, which took place with such a low turnout and a boycott by the Serbs, was called legitimate by Pristina and the international community.
The riots in the region intensified after the Albanian mayors wanted to occupy their posts. In the clashes, 30 KFOR peacekeepers were injured – including Hungarians – and 52 Serbian protesters.
Cover image: Dogukan Vurgun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images