12 November 2006

Nato pledges violence-free Kosovo

Agence France Presse, 10/22/2006 7:51:47

PRISTINA, Serbia . Nato-led peacekeeping troops in Kosovo (KFOR) will not tolerate any violence in the UN-run Serbian province ahead of the outcome of talks over its future status and next week's constitutional referendum in Serbia, officials said on Friday.

"Certainly, KFOR is prepared to do what the international community and the North Atlantic Council ask them to do," said US general Thomas L Baptiste, deputy chairman of the Nato Military Committee.

"It will not tolerate any violence at all and that should be clear to everybody," said the top Nato official in Kosovo, KFOR commander, German general Roland Kather.

Baptiste led the Nato Military Committee during its one-day visit to Kosovo, aimed at inspecting KFOR activities in the province. The visit came ahead of the constitutional referendum to be held in Serbia on October 28-29. The new constitution, adopted unanimously by the republic's parliament, affirms Belgrade's sovereignty over the province of Kosovo.

The text was adopted even as the United Nations, which has administered Kosovo since 1999, is expected to define the province's status by year's end.

Kather said that the situation in Kosovo was "quiet and calm."

He added that the talks with the visiting Nato delegation have been focused on "the status (process) and in particular on the referendum" in Serbia. KFOR "will maintain the secure and safe environment" in Kosovo, Kather said.