Turkey sends troops to Kosovo amid unrest: Report

 June 4, 2023

The Associated Press reports that Turkey has decided to send a commando battalion to Kosovo to help address the violent unrest that has been taking place there. 

The move was announced on Saturday by the Turkish defense ministry. The ministry has released multiple statements on the matter on Twitter.

The ministry, here, is sending troops to Kosovo in response to a request from NATO’s Joint Force Command Naples to do just that. Turkey has essentially accepted NATO's request for troops.

The request follows a recent outbreak of violence in the country.

What's going on?

According to ABC News, the violence in Kosovo broke out following the recently-held elections.

Per the outlet:

The clashes grew out of a confrontation that unfolded earlier after ethnic Albanian officials elected in votes overwhelmingly boycotted by Serbs entered municipal buildings to take office and were blocked by Serbs.

This, according to ABC, resulted in a violent clash between the ethnic Serbs and ethnic Albanians, which, as of Monday, resulted in the injury of some 30 international soldiers, including 11 Italians and 19 Hungarians.

Improvised incendiary devices were used in the clash, and many of the injured soldiers suffered fractures and burns.

NATO is now attempting to quell the violence in an effort to prevent the sort of conflict that occurred in Kosovo in the late 1990s. That conflict left about 10,000 dead and over 1 million homeless, and it led to NATO's KFOR peacekeeping mission.

Troops deployed

On Tuesday, NATO announced that it would be sending an additional 700 troops to the KFOR region on a peacekeeping mission. This is on top of the roughly 3,800 troops that are normally in Kosovo for the KFOR mission.

NATO subsequently asked Turkey to send some troops of its own. Now, Turkey will be sending about 500 troops to Kosovo.

Turkey explained its decision in a statement, writing:

[O]ur country closely follows the developments in the Balkans, where we have common historical and cultural values . . . it takes a constructive attitude and calls for the parties to resolve events that damage regional security and stability through dialogue.

For these reasons, Turkey said that it accepted NATO's request for troops. And, those troops, according to the Turkish defense ministry, will arrive in Kosovo on Sunday and Monday, June 4 and 5.

Turkey states:

We urge restraint and dialogue to resolve these developments in northern Kosovo which endanger regional security and stability. The Turkish commando battalion will be deploying to the Sultan Murat Barracks in Kosovo on Sunday and Monday.

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