After Belgrade-based newspaper Vecernje Novosti reported on Sunday that around 30 armed KSF members entered the north of Kosovo – triggering a chain reaction by Serbian representatives – the Kosovo Defense Minister, Armend Mehaj, denied these allegations last night. Mehaj says that the KSF units – together with international partners, cover „every corner“ of Kosovo. KFOR also states that they have not received the request from KSF required for their deployment to the north.
„The Ministry of Defense denies the false news that circulated in some Serbian media about the alleged movement of KSF troops in the area of the Zubin Potok municipality. We call these fake news dangerous disinformation aimed at creating tensions and hurting the reputation of the Republic of Kosovo and KSF on an international level,“ Mehaj said in a statement.
In his words, the citizens of Kosovo, regardless of their ethnicity, understand the „protective role of the KSF“, and that it is „clear that the Army of the Republic of Kosovo, together with international partners – covers every corner of the country.“
The Kosovo Minister of Defense added that all activities, including operational ones, as well as training in the ministry and KSF, are carried out in cooperation and coordination with local and international authorities, namely KFOR.
KFOR: KSF deployment requires concurrence by KFOR, no request received, our mandate is clear – Resolution 1244
“According to existing agreements, KSF deployment to northern Kosovo requires prior concurrence by KFOR. KFOR has not received any recent request from the KSF in this regard,” reads KFOR’s written response to KoSSev queries.
They reiterate that the NATO-led KFOR mission remains fully focused on the daily implementation of its UN mandate (based on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 of 1999) to ensure a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all the people of Kosovo.
“KFOR maintains a visible and agile posture on the ground, and the KFOR Commander is in regular contact with all of his main interlocutors, including the representatives of the Kosovo Security Organizations and the Serbian Chief of Defence,” they said.
KFOR, however, failed to directly respond to our question about whether KSF came to the North or not.
By the time this news was published, no answer arrived to our inquiry sent to KSF.
Mehaj urged the citizens of Kosovo, particularly those in the North, not to fall for “misinformation and fake news”, which are „spread with bad intentions“.
„The Ministry of Defense, along with the KSF, is and will always be at the service of all citizens of the country, regardless of differences,“ he said.
Srpska Lista and Petkovic: Incursion into the North, militarization, citizens concerned
Srpska Lista and the head of the Kosovo Office reacted yesterday to the unconfirmed news reported by some Serbian media outlets that KSF units journeyed into the North on Sunday.
Without giving specific details, they reminded that it was an illegal incursion of the KSF into the territory of the Zubin Potok municipality, and a gross violation of the 2013 NATO-guaranteed agreement, as per which KSF deployment to northern Kosovo requires prior concurrence by KFOR, but also, they add, the mayors.
They stressed that the mayors of four northern municipalities did not approve KSF’s arrival.
Furthermore, they call on KFOR to urgently react to the „provocation“ and „militarization“ purportedly carried out by Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti.
Bases, expropriation, (in)visibility of representatives, and citizens’ concern
Once again, the mayor of Zubin Potok, Srdjan Vulovic, was not available for comment on KoSSev’s inquires. However, Tanjug news agency shared Vulovic’s interview yesterday in which he said that the situation is tense and that the citizens are „concerned“ and „slightly scared“.
While confirming that KSF came to Zubin Potok, he also spoke about the construction of police bases, allegedly built on expropriated land. Vulovic revealed that they called on the Mitrovica prosecutor’s office to react, because „it is not normal for someone’s private property to be taken and for no one to react“.
He confirmed that KFOR, Quint ambassadors, and the US embassy in Pristina have been informed about the case.
The construction of two Kosovo special forces bases in this municipality – with the decision of the Kosovo government to expropriate parts of the land in Zubin Potok and Leposavic – over the past months took place under the radar of the general public. That was the case, at least, until Albin Kurti visited the construction sites recently, triggering a chain reaction of Serbian representatives, including the President of Serbia. According to several testimonies of the locals, this is a real concern of the citizens of this municipality. They see the presence of Kosovo special forces as an occupation, but they are also scared that the bases are envisaged to become military bases in the future.
The only opposition councilor in this municipality recently spoke about this in an interview for KoSSev:
Vecernje Novosti: 30 KSF members entered from Istok via Uvor to the cell tower
On Sunday, Vecernje Novosti shared a news piece, citing unofficial information, that eight KSF vehicles (five Land Rover Defender vehicles and three Mitsubishi Pajero) were spotted in the area of the municipality of Zubin Potok, on Mokra Gora mountain. The vehicles allegedly arrived from the direction of the municipality of Istok.
„The members of the aforementioned formation reached the cell tower located on the part of the mountain better known as Uvor, where they continued towards the interior of the municipality of Zubin Potok, at a depth of three to five kilometers. According to Novosti sources, there were a little more than 30 soldiers armed with firearms in that infantry group. They also carried four machine guns,“ Novosti writes.
Uvor – point separating the municipalities of Zubin Potok and Istok
Uvor is the administrative point separating the municipalities of Zubin Potok and Istok, while the former military cell tower on Mokra is located in the municipality of Zubin Potok, right on the dividing line with Serbia proper. This cell tower was repeatedly bombed in 1999, only to be demolished after the war.
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