Germany commands Kosovo's peacekeepers for another year

1st September 2010, Comments 0 comments

A German general on Wednesday took command of the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo (KFOR) as the Alliance confirmed its continuing support for security in the newly-declared country.

Outgoing General Marcus Bentler handed over the command of around 10,000 strong KFOR to fellow German General Erhard Buhler at a ceremony here.

"I can assure all citizens that NATO and KFOR will remain committed to Kosovo to ensure the rights of all are protected," US admiral Mark Fitzgerald, commander of NATO's southeast wing, said at the ceremony.

German deputy defence minister Rudiger Wolf said Kosovo's "stability is of a great importance to that of an entire region."

KFOR consists of 32 NATO and non-NATO nations and was dispatched to Kosovo after the conflict there ended in June 1999.

After a decade-long UN administration, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February 2010 and has so far been recognised by 69 countries, among them the United States and all but five EU member states.

Supported by its traditional ally Russia, Serbia opposes Kosovo's independence and still considers the territory as its southern province.

© 2010 AFP

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