New German general takes KFOR command in Kosovo

08:59, September 02, 2010      

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German General Erhard Buehler took the command of NATO-led peacekeeping forces in Kosovo (KFOR) on Wednesday, replacing his compatriot General Markus Bentler.

Head of NATO's Joint Forces Command in Naples, U.S. Admiral Mark Fitzgerald, attended the ceremony at the KFOR HQ in capital Prishtina on Wednesday. Speaking for the reduction of troops in Kosovo, he said such a move was proportional to improved security situation in Kosovo.

"For you Kosovo citizens, KFOR will continue to ensure safe, peace and stability which must promote economical development and allow free and democratic society," said Fitzgerald.

In recent months, KFOR has reduced its presence in Kosovo decreasing troop numbers to 10,000.

New commander's task is to continue the process of ensuring security in the country by further reducing KFOR presence.

Admiral Fitzgerald announced that in one year period the mission might have less 5,000 troops as the situation in the ground is seeking an improved stability.

Another KFOR task is to oversee the development of Kosovo Security Force (KSF), a 2,500 light arm structure.

Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu expressed his appreciation for the KFOR important role and contribution in Kosovo, as well as for the support of KSF structure

"Let me reiterate our goodwill to let our KSF forces take part, even symbolically, in NATO peace missions anywhere in the world," said Sejdiu.

KFOR deployed in Kosovo in June 1999 following the end of 78 days NATO air strikes and the withdrawal of Serbian forces from Kosovo.

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence in 2008, but Serbia opposes it and vow to fight the succession with all diplomatic means.

Source: Xinhua


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