Serbia seeks return of its troops to Kosovo as tensions soar

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Serbia on Saturday formally demanded that its secu-rity forces return to the breakaway former Serbian province of Kosovo, despite warnings from the West that such calls are unlikely to be accepted and only add to tensions in that part of the Balkans.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told state RTS television that the government asked the com-mander of NATO-led peacekeepers stationed in Kosovo since 1999, when the Western alliance pushed out Serb troops from the region, to allow the return of up to 1,000 Serbian army and police offi-cers to the Serb-populated north of the country.

“The request says that a certain number of (Ser-bian troops), from one hundred to up to 1,000, return to Kosovo,” Vucic said.

He said that despite the fact that it is “almost certain that this will not be granted,” the request will be put on the record.

Serbian officials claim a United Nations resolu-tion that formally ended the Kosovo war allows for Serbian troops to return to Kosovo. NATO bombed Serbia to stop the war, end its bloody crackdown against ethnic Albanian separatists and civilians and order its troops out of Kosovo.

Serbian officials claim that the NATO and European Union-led peacekeeping missions are unable to protect the minority Serbs in Kosovo from harassment by majority Kosovo Albanians and that their security forces can do the job.

The return of Serbian troops is unlikely to be granted because it would de facto mean handing over security of Kosovo’s ethnic Serb-populated northern regions to Serbian forces — a move that would dramatically increase tensions in the Balkans.

German and U.S. officials have vehemently re-jected any idea of the return of Serbian security forces to the region.—APP