11 December 2006

Departure of troops from Kosovo delayed

Beta news agency, Belgrade, 14 November 2006 10:42


BRUSSELS -- The EU Foreign Ministers have decided to delay the decision for decreasing the number of troops in Bosnia and Kosovo.


EU officials are discussing the possibility of decreasing the number of troops in Bosnia-Herzegovina from 6,500 to 1,500 in the coming year, but will postpone the move because of the possibility of tensions and unrest in Kosovo.


EU Foreign and Security Policies Chief Javier Solana said that the decision for decreasing the presence of armed forces is being discussed and that it will be implemented once the conditions for doing so in Bosnia-Herzegovina are met. However, Solana said that the decision will not be made before December, and that the eventual departure will not take place before February.


French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said that the EU needs to secure the needed number of soldiers in the region in order to be able to deal with any eventual violence in Kosovo.


"We can discuss a decrease of armed forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina under the condition that we ensure the possibility of a quick return if the region, especially Kosovo, becomes unstable," she said.


The EU took over the peacekeeping mission from NATO in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where there were 60,000 soldiers at the end of the war. NATO has about 16,000 peacekeeping troops in Kosovo currently.