Slovakia pulling soldiers from Kosovo

BRATISLAVA -- Slovakia is planning on return 139 of its KFOR mission soldiers from Kosovo and leaving only 20 soldiers to work in the intelligence services.

“By the end of 2010, the motorized unit which is serving in Kosovo under the NATO flag could return home. There is no longer a need for the multi-national group Center in which our soldiers are serving,” Slovak Defense Minister Jaroslav Baška.

According to local news agency SITA, Slovakia is implementing a political decision made by NATO to decrease the number of KFOR soldiers from 15,000 to 5,500.

The Slovak soldiers have been in Kosovo for 11 years. The first unit of 40 engineers arrived in 1999 and served as part of an Austrian battalion.

Since 2002, based on an agreement with the Czech Defense Ministry, the Slovak unit served in the Czech-Slovak battalion of KFOR.