London, 21 December 2007 — The first KFOR Commander Klaus Reinhardt predicts that “violence probably will break out in Kosovo,” but that NATO is ready.
“I doubt it will turn into any kind of civil war because NATO’s there – it’s ready, its troops know what to do. They’ll be on the streets and they’ll try to prevent violence. But they can’t be everywhere, especially at night. 16,000 soldiers isn’t much. That’s why I think violence will break out,” Reinhardt told the BBC.The former KFOR commander said that the main role of NATO and the EU civil mission, if it is sent to Kosovo, will be to protect the Serbs, even though international forces are not likely to be popular among them.
“NATO troops might not be too popular with the Serb minority, but I think the Serbs are aware that they’d have no chance of survival without international forces,” he continued.
Reinhardt warned that the aftermath of the declaration of independence by the Kosovo Albanians could have repercussions throughout the region.
“I fear that, in that event, the Serbs north of the Ibar will declare independence, and that could cause a chain reaction. For example, Albanians in the south of Serbia, around Preševo, could try and unite with Kosovo. That could lead to similar initiatives in parts of Macedonia,” the German general speculated.
“Moreover, we don’t know what the Republic of Srpska would do in such a scenario. They could try to break away from Bosnia-Hercegovina,” he told the BBC.