Germany renews mandate for KFOR troops
2 June 2005, BERLIN - The German parliament on Thursday overwhelmingly renewed its mandate for 2,600 troops serving as part of the international KFOR peacekeeping force in Kosovo.
2 June 2005
BERLIN - The German parliament on Thursday overwhelmingly renewed its mandate for 2,600 troops serving as part of the international KFOR peacekeeping force in Kosovo.
With support of both government and opposition, 575 members of the Bundestag voted in favour of a one-year extension of the Kosovo mission and just seven voted against.
The Nato-led KFOR mission - which was approved by the United Nations - has been operating in Kosovo since 1999 after Nato forces fought a war with Serbia to prevent mass expulsion of majority ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
There are currently about 17,000 troops serving in KFOR from 35 different countries.
Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said security was the key to making progress in Kosovo and that KFOR troops needed to remain.
Fischer said there could be no return to the status prior to 1999 when Kosovo was ruled by Serbia.
But he also ruled out any redrawing of international boundaries for Kosovo and side-stepped calls for full independence for Kosovo.
The entire region needed to be given a perspective of closer ties to the European Union (EU), said Fischer. A multi-ethnic Kosovo needed to be preserved with European standards of minority protection, he added.
Following the rejection of the EU constitution by both France and the Netherlands this week, Fischer called on Europe not to slam the door to problems in the Balkans and elsewhere.
"Europe has no time for a 'time out' given the serious problems," he said.
Subject: German news