Montenegro to allow EUs Bosnia to Kosovo troop transit
The EU peacekeeping force in Bosnia may swiftly redeploy to Kosovo, traveling through Montenegro, if a security emergency occurs in the tense Serbian province, officials said Monday.
The commander of the 6,000-strong, Bosnia-based EUFOR, German Rear Admiral Hans-Jochen Witthauer, signed an agreement with Montenegro’s Foreign Minister Milan Rocen envisaging “EUFOR’s assets to transit Montenegro by road and air at short notice to reinforce NATO forces in Kosovo in the event of an emergency.”
Some 17,000 NATO troops are already in Kosovo, which has been an international protectorate since the 1998-99 war there between ethnic Albanians separatists and Serbian government forces.
Kosovo’s future status is being discussed at the U.N. Security Council, amid ethnic Albanian demands for independence and Serbia’s efforts to prevent secession.
U.N. and NATO officials have appealed for calm while the negotiations continue on the contested territory.
Bosnia has been mostly stable since its 1992-95 ethnic war. The initial peacekeeping there by some 60,000 NATO troops was later scaled down and handed over to the European Union peace force, which now may be needed in Kosovo.
Witthauer said the “technical” transit agreement with Montenegro “supports the EUs efforts to promote peace and security in the Balkans.”