Serbia asks NATO to deploy Serbian army and police in Kosovo

BELGRADE (Reuters) – Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Saturday that Serbia will ask NATO peacekeepers to allow them to deploy Serbian army and police in Kosovo, although it believes there is no chance of the request being granted.

Vucic said at a news conference in Belgrade that he would submit the request in a letter to the commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (KFOR).

Vucic’s remarks came after a series of incidents between the Kosovo authorities and the local Serbs who form a majority in the Albanian-majority northern regions of Kosovo.

“We will ask the commander of the Kosovo Force to ensure the deployment of the army and police personnel of the Republic of Serbia in the province of Kosovo and Metohija,” Vucic told a news conference in Belgrade. He said he had “no illusions” of accepting the request.

He said the government in Belgrade would formally adopt the document on Monday or Tuesday.

This will be the first time that Belgrade has requested the deployment of troops in Kosovo, under the provisions of the UN Security Council resolution that ended the 1998-1999 war, in which NATO intervened against Serbia to protect Albanian-majority Kosovo.

The resolution states that Serbia can deploy up to 1,000 military, police and customs officials to Orthodox Christian religious sites, Serb-majority areas and border crossings, if the KFOR commander approves such deployment.

At the time it was agreed, Kosovo was recognized internationally as part of Serbia. With Western support, Kosovo declared independence in 2008, a declaration that Serbia has not recognized.

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(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasović) Editing by Peter Graf

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