German Government decided to continue participation in NATO-led Kosovo Force - ceiling for troop numbers reduced

Berlin, 10 May 2017 | Federal Government

The participation of German servicemen and -women in the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) is to continue, the Federal Cabinet has decided. As the situation in Kosovo has continued to improve, the ceiling for troop numbers is being reduced from 1,350 to 800 personnel. The new mandate still needs to be approved by the German Bundestag.

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(© Bundeswehr/Wilke)
There have been members of the Bundeswehr deployed to Kosovo since mid-1999. The personnel ceiling was previously reduced to 1,350 in 2016, and the new draft mandate contains a further reduction to 800. In principle, there is no time limit on the existing Bundestag mandate for the involvement of armed German troops, but the Government will nonetheless submit the extension to the Bundestag for approval.

Situation stable in Kosovo

The Kosovar security services have been proving themselves increasingly capable of upholding public safety and order without the support of international forces. The presence of international troops in the form of KFOR nevertheless remains an essential element of the security architecture required to maintain a safe and stable environment.

Force reduction possible

NATO’s North Atlantic Council decided in January 2016 to adapt the military forces flexibly to suit the developing situation. The NATO heads of state and government reiterated their commitment to that flexible approach at the Warsaw Summit in July of the same year. It is in accordance with this that the German Government is now reducing its troop numbers by 550 Bundeswehr personnel, leaving a maximum of 800 in future.

The armed forces nonetheless remain in a position to respond appropriately to changes in circumstances. With their continued involvement in KFOR, the German troops are making an important contribution to the ongoing stabilisation of the region as a whole.

German-Austrian reserve force

The duties facing KFOR were once again successfully covered by around 4,400 servicemen and -women last year. Germany provided approximately 550 of them, making it the joint top troop contributor alongside the US and Italy. Should the security situation deteriorate, it is still an option for KFOR to become involved in addition to the Kosovar police and EULEX, the EU rule-of-law mission.

If problems escalated further, it would also be possible to activate the Operational Reserve Force, a German-Austrian battalion kept in reserve in Austria and Germany. The legal basis for this would be UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999). The Republic of Kosovo has also consistently expressed the wish that KFOR remain present in the country.

Civil as well as military assistance

The presence of international KFOR troops remains necessary to the process of establishing a stable environment. One of the military component’s tasks is to provide security for EULEX, the civilian rule-of-law mission which was established in 2008. EULEX assists the Kosovar Government in institutionalising the rule of law.

Development cooperation

Germany’s development cooperation has also been making a significant contribution to the country’s social and economic development since 1999. The aid provided to date comes to 551.5 million euros. In 2016, Germany pledged funds of 41.5 million euros for various purposes including measures to promote the rule of law and develop the power grid. Germany also provided support for education and employment as well as small and medium-sized businesses.

This is the translation of an article published on www.bmvg.de

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