The EU mission in Kosovo, EULEX, said it has decided to boost police numbers in the Serb-majority North Kosovo to ensure security following the mass resignation of Kosovo Serbs from state institutions.
“The Reserve Formed Police Unit (RFPU) is deployed to Kosovo in response to the Mission’s need to have additional forces on the ground and better support our Kosovo counterparts, if requested and if necessary,” said EULEX in a public statement.
The RRPU is made of 23 gendarmes from the Italian Carabinieri and members of the European Gendarmerie Force (EUROGENDFOR). It was temporarily deployed to boost police numbers in Kosovo earlier this week.
In a Tweet posted this week, the EU High Representative Joseph Borrell said “at these tense times in Kosovo, EU’s Rule of Law Mission EULEX fulfils its duty to ensure stability… EULEX will continue supporting a safe and secure environment.”
This is the second time the EULEX Reserve Formed Police Unit has been deployed to Kosovo. In March earlier this year, EULEX temporarily reinforced its FPU with 70 gendarmes from Portugal and France. Those gendarmes departed Kosovo on 18 July.
According to EULEX, its regular police unit made up of 105 Polish police officers has remained stationed in the northern town of Mitrovica, meeting its duty as Kosovo’s second security responder.
Kosovo Serbs have begun a mass resignation from Kosovo institutions as part of a broader protest that began on Saturday, in a meeting called by the Belgrade-backed Serbian party Srspka Lista.
All ten Serb MPs, as well as hundreds of police officers, the mayors of four Serb-majority northern Kosovo municipalities and a number of judicial officials have resigned as part of the protest.
The action comes two days after the regional director of police for the Serb-majority north, Nenad Djuric, was suspended for refusing to obey government orders to reprimand drivers of cars marked with “illegal” license plates.
According to Kosovo media, a number of ethnic Serbs employed at EULEX also resigned. EULEX, however, has disputed this claim.
“There are 14 Serbians employed in EULEX and none of them has resigned. However, ‘Balkan International’, an external contractor for security in EULEX, has notified the mission that their staff that offer security services at the EU House in North Mitrovica, have resigned,” it said.
Kosovo and Serbia reached an agreement in 2011 whereby Kosovo would issue license plates marked with both “RKS” and “KS” (Kosovo). The agreement was initially slated to encourage Serbs in Kosovo’s north to start using Kosovo-issued license plates, but the issue has instead escalated over the past decade.
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