PRISTINA, Kosovo — Germany will double its contribution of about 100 troops to the NATO-led peacekeepers in Kosovo in a demonstration of its commitment to regional security, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said Monday.
Pistorius, who was on a regional tour to Kosovo and neighboring Serbia, said Germany will add another company of soldiers to the 99 troops it already has in the nearly 4,500-strong peacekeeping force by spring. It is also prepared to add more if necessary, he said.
“I believe the signal is strong and expresses our perspective on the stability of this region,” Pistorius said at a news conference with Kosovar President Vjosa Osmani.
NATO has been ramping up the level of the Kosovo Force, or KFOR, from about 3,800, following two violent incidents last year.
In May, Serb demonstrators in northern Kosovo clashed with NATO peacekeeping troops. In September there occurred a deadly gunbattle when about 30 Serb gunmen clashed with Kosovo police, leaving a Kosovar officer and three Serb gunmen dead.
The KFOR force originally was established in 1999 following a NATO bombing campaign on Serb positions to halt a crackdown on separatist ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and end their 1998-99 war.
Kosovo-Serbia relations remain tense, and European Union-facilitated talks on normalizing their ties are at a stalemate. Brussels has made it clear that such an agreement is a prerequisite to Kosovo and Serbia joining the bloc.
Kosovo unilaterally broke away from Serbia and declared independence in 2008, a move that Belgrade has refused to recognize.
The 1998-1999 war between Serbia and Kosovo killed about 13,000 people, mostly Kosovo Albanians. It ended after a 78-day NATO bombing campaign that compelled Serbian forces to withdraw from Kosovo.