The UK will continue its commitment to NATO’s KFOR (Kosovo Force) until at least 2026, bolstering security in the Western Balkans region.
Press Release, Whitehall, 23 May 2023: The UK’s contribution to the NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR) Mission in Kosovo will continue until at least 2026, the Minister for the Armed Forces, James Heappey, has announced during a visit to the region. During today’s visit to Pristina, he held conversations with Kosovo’s President, Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu, and Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, as well as discussions with Defence Minister Armend Mehaj, and Commander of the KFOR Mission.
Kosovo is an important partner, with the UK having been the first country to recognise its independence in 2008, and UK forces have been undertaking a key role in peacekeeping and bolstering security in the region for more than two decades.
Minister for the Armed Forces, James Heappey, said: “It was a pleasure to meet with the Kosovan President and Prime Minister today and to announce the UK’s further commitment to NATO’s Kosovo Force.
“The extension of our commitment to KFOR underlines our unwavering commitment to supporting security in the Western Balkans region.”
The UK has been a key contributor to the UN-mandated NATO force since it first entered Kosovo in 1999 as a peacekeeping force to bring peace and stability following the conflict of the 1990s. UK forces have worked to enhance KFOR’s Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance capability, significantly increasing the mission commanders’ situational awareness – ensuring the operation can provide a safe and secure environment for the entire population. KFOR acts as one of the main security providers in Kosovo, with troops contributed by some 30 nations including Italy, Turkey, Poland and the US, as well as the UK. The UK’s contribution includes a battalion-sized high readiness Strategic Reserved Force based in the UK, ready to deploy at short notice.
The Minister also visited Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) on Monday, where he met the Minister of Defence, Zukan Helez; the Chief of Armed Forces General Senad Masovic; Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Josip Brkic; as well as the Commanders of EUFOR and NATO HQ Sarajevo. Discussions focussed on BiH’s progress towards Euro-Atlantic alignment and on the United Kingdom’s enduring support for the country’s security and sovereignty, including through joint training, the provision of equipment and the exchange of expertise.
The Minister gave the keynote speech at the Institute for Geopolitics, Economy and Security conference in Sarajevo focusing on the UK’s partnership with BiH on defence and security matters.