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'In Kosovo, we risk another crisis over nothing'

KFOR Commander Ristuccia: 'I don't see any weapons from Serbia'

07 September, 10:24

(by Mattia Bernardo Bagnoli) (ANSA) - BRUSELLS, 07 SET - The situation in Kosovo at the moment "is calm" but remains "highly volatile," and the slightest thing, even "a fine," could make tempers flare, with the risk of "another crisis." That is the "prognosis" of NATO Mission in Kosovo (KFOR) commander Angelo Michele Ristuccia on the eve of the meeting between Kosovo Republic President Vjosa Osmani and Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as well as a possible new round of negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina.
    "We are engaged in a constant process of crisis management," Ristuccia warned during a meeting with ANSA and other news outlets. "Each time we arrive at a balance that is more and more fragile than the previous one, and it takes an immense effort, both military and political, to bring the parties back to the table." In this framework of total "distrust," the most insignificant event can trigger the fuse. That is why "a political solution" is needed immediately. Ristuccia-who on May 29, had to deal with clashes between the Serb minority and Kosovar police resulting in the wounding of 90 NATO soldiers, did not want to point the finger at either Belgrade or Pristina, calling on the parties to "actively engage." At the same time, however, Ristuccia denied Osmani's allegations that Serbian authorities "send weapons to Kosovo" and train members of what Pristina calls "illegal structures" in Serb-majority northern municipalities. "I have no evidence of sending these weapons. Serbia, moreover, is a NATO partner," he assures.
    The glass half-full, so to speak, lies in the fact that, in this never-ending story, "we do not see interest on the part of anyone to return to the situation of 1999." An actual war seems unlikely.
    But concern about security on the ground remains. "I go around Kosovo, our staff as well, and we talk to people: people are tired and want peace. And I advise political leaders to do the same: go around the streets, talk to people." Then there is the war in Ukraine that does not make things any easier. Although the causes of destabilization are "mostly internal," Ristuccia observes a "large amount of disinformation" and "the numerous hacking attacks on critical infrastructure." He does not accuse Russia directly-"attribution is difficult in these cases" but calls on Moscow to take "a constructive approach." (ANSA).

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