Es ist erschreckend, wie schnell man so etwas vergisst: Nur eine Würdigung des derzeitigen (italienischen) Kommandeurs der Kosovo Forces (KFOR) der NATO und die Geschichte auf bundeswehr.de haben mich daran erinnert, dass am 12. Juni vor 15 Jahren der Einsatz auch der Bundeswehr in der damals abtrünnigen serbischen Unruheprovinz begann. Damit ist es der inzwischen am längsten dauernde Einsatz deutscher Soldaten, und einer der in Deutschland am wenigsten wahrgenommenen – wer in der Öffentlichkeit ist sich schon bewusst, dass noch immer hunderte Bundeswehrsoldaten dort eingesetzt sind? Das letzte Mal, als dieser Einsatz in Deutschland Schlagzeilen machte, war im Sommer 2012, als zwei Deutsche, darunter der Kommandeur des Reservebataillons, in der Ortschaft Rudare durch Schüsse verwundet wurden. Zuvor hatten die gewaltsamen Auseinandersetzungen im Sommer 2011 bereits deutlich gemacht, dass die Lage vor allem im serbisch dominierten Norden des Landes fragil ist.
Zur Dokumentation die Erklärung des KFOR-Kommandeurs, Generalmajor Salvatore Farina – mit der Zahl, die den zurückgelegten Weg deutlich macht: Die heutige Truppenstärke im inzwischen unabhängigen Kosovo ist ein Zehntel der Truppenstärke beim Einmarsch.
On the eve of the day when NATO troops entered Kosovo back in 1999 as a result of the provisions of 1244 United Nations Resolution, KFOR commemorates the fallen soldiers of the KFOR mission.
15 years have elapsed since the beginning of the KFOR mission in Kosovo when around 55,000 soldiers from 36 countries were deployed to ensure the safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all citizens and bring peace to the country.
Thousands of soldiers over the years have come and gone in this mission, contributing with their commitment, dedication, professionalism and enthusiasm to make this part of the Balkans a better land, with the support of the international community to help the institutions grow in the name of democracy and pluralism.
KFOR has remained faithful to its founding principles, impartial, equidistant, but still inspired by the values of democracy and dialogue.
We can say that the situation today is much improved compared to 1999: security is granted for all citizens leaving aside ethnicity, religious beliefs, and language.
The central and local institutions in Kosovo have grown to the point that today the public safety is ensured by the Kosovo Police to which all citizens without distinction look with admiration and consider a firm point of reference: in this perspective, KFOR, as a third responder, consistent with the original mandate established by Resolution 1244, is still ready to intervene only when the situation gets worse.
A recent evidence of this tangible and substantial improvement was the general elections held on June the 10th, held in a peaceful and festive manner without incidents: this event marked a milestone in the history of Kosovo with the participation of all the citizens in the democratic process as a sign of the maturity reached by people and by all institutions.
The Kosovo Police played a central role due to the professionalism, efficiency and effectiveness demonstrated in ensuring the necessary security framework and the smooth conduct of the elections process both north and south of the Ibar River.
The constructive dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina with the mediation of the European Union, the support of all actors on the international stage, the United Nations with the UNMIK Mission, the European Union, EULEX and OSCE, the Ambassadors in Kosovo, the fertile information flow with the Chiefs of Defense of the neighboring countries and the substantial support of KFOR gave its fruit.
To sum up, the 5,500 soldiers of the 30 nations that make up today’s KFOR’s multinational contingent are sufficient to assure the security and freedom of movement.
Ten times less forces than in the past means 10 times greater security than back in 1999: „KFOR a success story for the success of Kosovo.“
In this context, a solemn ceremony on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the entry of NATO troops in Kosovo, will remember the 136 KFOR soldiers from 16 nations who have offered their lives to the cause of freedom, peace for a better Kosovo, for a better Europe, for a better world for all citizens who can now live in a safe environment without distinction of race, language, ethnicity or religious belief.
Major General Salvatore Farina, KFOR Commander, with this simple but solemn ceremony together with all men and women of KFOR, wants all to remember the countless multitudes of soldiers of all nations who preceded.
The seed that have been thrown with their work, dedication and sometimes ultimate sacrifice, has created the fruits that we gather today: peace, freedom, pluralism and democracy, „More Together“ for the future of Kosovo.
(Foto oben: Feldjäger sichern die Rudare Ironbridge- Bundeswehr/Michael Müller via Flickr unter CC-BY-ND Lizenz; Foto unten: RUDARE, Kosovo – KFOR removed a roadblock on the outskirts of Rudare preventing freedom of movement to the people of Kosovo, June 1, 2012. Two KFOR soldiers were injured by gunfire during the operation after unidentified individuals in a violent crowd opened fire on security forces providing a cordon around roadblock removal efforts. KFOR forces responded in self-defense, using tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition – U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jim Wagner)