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Poland condemns 'unprovoked attacks' on NATO troops in Kosovo

31.05.2023 13:30
Poland’s foreign ministry has voiced "serious concern" over rising tensions in northern Kosovo and strongly condemned "unprovoked attacks" on NATO troops serving in a peacekeeping force there.
The Polish foreign ministry building in Warsaw.
The Polish foreign ministry building in Warsaw.Photo: PAP/Tomasz Gzell

Thirty peacekeeping NATO soldiers were hurt in clashes with ethnic Serb protesters in the northern Kosovo town of Zvecan at the start of this week, officials have said, adding that there were no Poles among those injured.

The Polish foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that it "expresses its serious concern about the increase of tensions in Northern Kosovo and strongly condemns the unprovoked attacks on NATO troops taking part in the KFOR operation, which resulted in several dozen Allied soldiers being wounded."

The Polish foreign ministry added that "the aim of the international forces’ presence in Kosovo is to ensure security of all inhabitants of the region."

"We express our solidarity with the KFOR soldiers wounded while on duty," the Polish foreign ministry said in its statement.

It added: "We call on all sides to refrain from unilateral actions, which can cause the situation to escalate. We urge them to halt violence, deescalate the situation, and return to dialogue under the auspices of the European Union, as well as to implement the agreement on the normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo."


On Tuesday, dozens of NATO troops in anti-riot gear, including soldiers from Poland, the United States and Italy, secured a municipal building in Kosovo's Zvecan, where the clashes took place the previous day, the Reuters news agency reported.


On Monday, Serb protesters in Zvecan threw tear gas and stun grenades at NATO soldiers, according to Reuters.


The NATO international peacekeeping force in Kosovo (KFOR) said 30 of its soldiers were hurt in the violence.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said 52 Serbs were injured, Reuters reported.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell condemned Monday's clashes "in the strongest possible terms."

"The violent acts committed against NATO KFOR troops, media, civilians and police are absolutely unacceptable," Borrell said on Twitter.

He urged "Kosovo authorities and the protesters to immediately and unconditionally de-escalate the situation."

"We expect the parties to act responsibly and find a political solution through dialogue immediately," Borrell added.

Tensions have risen since ethnic Albanian mayors took office in northern Kosovo's Serb-majority area after elections the Serbs boycotted, Reuters reported.

The NATO force said in a statement on Tuesday that it "will continue to take all necessary measures to ensure a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all communities in Kosovo, in accordance with its mandate ..."

The Operational Command of the Polish Armed Forces said on Tuesday that "none of the Polish soldiers stationed in Kosovo were injured or required medical attention," public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.

Meanwhile, NATO announced that it was deploying additional troops to join the Kosovo force.

"In response to recent unrest and the injury of 30 members of NATO’s Kosovo Force, NATO has directed the deployment of the Operational Reserve
Forces (ORF) for the Western Balkans, which was on a seven-day readiness-to-deploy status," the Western military alliance said in a tweet on Tuesday.


Source: IAR, PAP, Reuters, polskieradio24.plgov.pl