Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said Thursday NATO was ready to tackle any outbursts of violence in Kosovo.

11 January 2008 – The NATO secretary-general was meeting journalists at the military alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, when he said NATO had a clear role in Kosovo, “to protect minorities and majorities alike.”

“The situation [in Kosovo] is volatile now … If necessary, reserves are ready. Let nobody be under the illusion that he could get his way by violent means,” he said.

NATO currently has about 16,000 peacekeeping troops in Kosovo.

The EU is later this month expected to decide on sending a civilian mission to Kosovo which would relieve the current UN administration.

Thursday, De Hoop Scheffer described the need to have a close EU-NATO cooperation in Kosovo as “very important” and said all of the Western Balkans should one day be allowed to join NATO and the EU.

NATO leaders are due to meet in Bucharest, Romania, for a summit scheduled to take place on April 2-4.

De Hoop Scheffer said the summit would address “future threats and challenges,” such as cyber defense and energy security, and would consider the applications of three potential new member states: Albania, Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The NATO chief did not commit himself on their chances to join the alliance this spring, but urged them to continue to approve reforms up to “the last moment.”

Source: B92