"We would mourn the dead if it wasn't for KFOR..."
If KFOR hadn't intervened in the north of Kosovo, we would now be mourning the dead, KFOR commander Angelo Michele Ristuccia told Italian daily "La Repubblica".Source: Kosovo online
"Thirty KFOR soldiers, of whom 19 Hungarians and 11 Italians, were injured on Monday in a cowardly attack by urban guerrillas. I am with them and their families. Nine Italians are in the hospital at the Camp Villaggio base in Italy, one was admitted to a health facility in Pristina, and one in Skopje. None of them are life-threatening, they will recover quickly," said Ristuccia.
As he said, the building of the municipality of Zvečan was turned into an "operation room with an extremely unstable situation".
He stated that on Monday he had assigned a large contingent of soldiers to four Serbian-majority municipalities for the inauguration of the recently elected Albanian mayors.
All the risk, he pointed out, is related to the fact that Prime Minister Albin Kurti decided to continue with the inauguration, despite the protests of the Serbs and the doubts of the international community.
"The stubbornness of the local Albanian authorities not to act on the indications received from the Western partners, indications that serve to facilitate the dialogue, especially in the light of the progress achieved with the Brussels and Ohrid agreements, has greatly weakened the balance," noted Ristuccia.
We are not wrapping up the dead, among the Serbian population or Albanian policemen, because KFOR intervened and managed to calm the situation, he underlined.
He reported that the attack happened because 15 Kosovo policemen were blocked for hours in three armored vehicles, surrounded by an agitated crowd.
"The protest got out of control, of the Serbian demonstrators themselves, and if the Kosovo police had intervened, the situation would have worsened. That is why we intervened, as required by the decree on engagement within our mandate, to enable the departure of three vehicles," Ristuccia said.
As he said, KFOR members were hit with bags containing pieces of iron and nails, Molotov cocktails, and even gunshots.
He added that, in general, at protests in Kosovo, among the crowd "there are often protest professionals whose goal is to incite the crowd".
"Nothing has changed for us after the conflict on May 29. The mandate of Resolution 1244 of the UN Security Council remains unchanged. And we are ready for any opportunity," assures Ristuccia.
As for the presence of the Russian group "Wagner" in Kosovo, the KFOR commander assures that there is no evidence of their presence in this area to date.