NATO says it is prepared to intervene if stability threatened in northern Kosovo

The NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) is “prepared to intervene if stability is jeopardized” by the Kosovo-Serbia conflict, according to a KFOR statement Sunday.

“KFOR will take whatever measures are necessary to keep a safe and secure environment in Kosovo at all times, in line with its UN mandate,” the statement read. KFOR reported that the situation in northern Kosovo is “tense” and under close watch by the force. 

Tensions between the two countries have heightened ahead of a new law which would require Serbs who enter Kosovo to carry a Kosovo identity card, instead of using just a Serbian card. The same would apply to license plates on vehicles.

Serbs rioted in protest of the new law, which is in place in reverse in Serbia — requiring all people from Kosovo to carry Serbian identity cards upon entry. 

Kosovo responded to the riots by delaying the law’s effective date until September, “on the condition that all barricades are removed & complete freedom of movement is restored,” wrote Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti on Twitter on Sunday.

Kurti condemned the violence to the north and blamed Serbia for trying to destabilize its neighbor.

“This has everything to do with a tendency to destabilize Kosova and to threaten the peace and security of our citizens and our country,” Kurti wrote.

Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008 after an armed uprising by Kosovo Albanians and subsequent bloody backlash from Serbs. NATO intervened, bombing Serbs until the conflict died down. 

NATO encouraged the continuation of “EU-facilitated Dialogue” between the two countries.

“It is important that this continues. This is critical for regional peace and security. There will be no real prospects for a better future in the Balkans, without full respect for human rights and democratic values, rule of law, domestic reforms and good neighbourly relations,” KFOR said Sunday.