Prague, 4 February 2008 – The Czech military will send a reserve company to the southern Serbian province of Kosovo before its expected declaration of independence from Serbia, the Czech military general staff told CTK Monday.

The 116-strong company, mostly members of a mechanised battalion, will leave for Kosovo on Wednesday. The number of Czech troops in the country will thus exceed 500, the military said.

The Czech Republic sent more troops to Kosovo last November when the parliamentary and local elections took place there.

The reserve company that has permanent location in the Czech Republic is prepared for deployment within five days.

Its members can, for instance, guard important buildings and oversee mass meetings. The soldiers have all necessary equipment in Kosovo.

Kosovo made it clear previously that it will declare its independence from Serbia after the presidential elections. The elections ended on Sunday when incumber Serbian pro-European democratic President Boris Tadic was re-elected to the post in the second round.

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said during his visit to Kosovo in January that the Czech Republic would react to the declaration of Kosovo’s independence in harmony with other EU member states.

He said Prague would recognise the independent Kosovo in due time.

The Soldiers Against War Czech civic association said on Sunday that the declaration of independence in Kosovo may develop into an armed conflict.

The association of retired Czech generals and higher-ranking officers called on the Chamber of Deputies to publicly declare support to the legitimacy of Serbia as a successor state to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia with Kosovo province and Metohija being its part.

Source: CTK