Serbian Army, KFOR "triple patrols" in GSZ

PRIŠTINA -- KFOR commander Salvatore Farina says the number of patrols of the NATO-led mission and of the Serbian Army in the Ground Safety Zone (GSZ) had been "tripled."

(Tanjug, file)
(Tanjug, file)

The area runs along the administrative line between Kosovo and central Serbia, and move came in the wake of last week's killing there of a member of the Serbian police Gendarmerie unit.

Stevan Sinđelić died after he was shot in the head by a group of suspected ethnic Albanian timber thieves who had crossed the line from Kosovo.

During his farewell news conference in the NATO headquarters building in Priština on Monday, the outgoing KFOR commander said that the presence of KFOR troops along the administrative line has been increased in synchronized operations with the Serbian military, adding that police and internal security institutions should also deal with the issue of security in that area.

Farina said that Serbian Army chief Ljubiša Diković and he "agreed to ease the tensions and triple the number of patrols in the interest zones."

Referring to the recent police operations which ended in arrests of those suspected of extremism, Farina said that extremist and radical groups do not pose a security threat in Kosovo, and noted that fighters are not arriving in Syria just from Kosovo, but also from most Western countries.

"This is a shared problem that well-ordered and democratic countries are also facing. The number of people arrested in Kosovo is a sign that Kosovo leaders are willing to tackle this phenomenon," he said, describing as good the fact that there is an operative plan for arrests.

Summing up the results of NATO troops that have been in Kosovo for 15 years already, Farina noted that this is the time of major crises, and that is another reason why NATO is gradually reducing its presence in this area.

"We are doing our best to achieve the final objective, which will be realized when conditions are ripe," Farina said, noting that the number of KFOR troops in Kosovo is now ten times smaller than that in 1999.

Major General Francesco Paolo Figliuolo will take over from Farina on Wednesday.