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The British will end their operational reserve in Kosovo

(B2) Defense Minister John Hutton confirmed this on Wednesday. The UK will end its commitment to the NATO-EU Reserve Task Force (FOR) in the Balkans. A reserve provided by the 2nd Battalion, 2 Rifles, which will end on December 31, 2008 and was placed on alert since the beginning of the year, with the independence of Kosovo.

“The major stages of Kosovo's independence have passed without incident and the security situation in Kosovo is stable, even if it remains fragile” explained the UK's new defense minister. “In this context, and with more than 15000 personnel currently in the theater of operations, NATO remains well placed to deal with possible security incidents. The UK will continue to make a significant contribution to Kosovo's security through the provision of key intelligence capabilities, supporting the down position of the Kosovo Protection Corps (the KPS, which enabled notably to reclassify former UCK members in training dedicated to civil security), and, more broadly, security sector reform and capacity building” he added. NB: NATO currently has approximately 15 KFOR troops deployed in Kosovo to maintain security and stability (read report in January).

Even if this decision is not of the same nature as the reflection undertaken at EU level to reduce, or rather transform, the EU military operation in Bosnia-Herzegovina “Althea” (which took over from the Sfor NATO), it nevertheless participates in the same movement by Europeans of a slow military disengagement from countries which, little by little, have become – at least from an immediately security point of view, more stable. Even if political stability and democratic progress in these countries – Kosovo, Bosnia – are still major issues for the years to come.


Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).