Priština, 7 February 2008 – UNMIK police will not increase its numbers in Kosovo except in northern parts of the province reports say.

Announcements from political representatives of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians that they will unilaterally declare independence will not lead to more policemen deployed, the UNMIK police commissioner’s press service head said in Priština on Wednesday.

Tanjug also learned that additional UNMIK police patrols had been deployed only in Kosovska Mitrovica and “only for the purpose of strengthening cooperation with the Kosovo Police Service.”

In early February UNMIK police deployed an additional 40 members to the north, stating that this was assistance to existing police forces in the Serb-populated part of the province.

Previously, KFOR had deployed 560 Italian troops in the same part of Kosovo, to be stationed there for the next four months.

Serbs oppose unilateral moves of declaration of the province’s status, but say they will not make any radical moves.

But some analysts, diplomats and media have speculated that if the Albanians declared secession from Serbia, local Serbs, backed by Belgrade, would establish a de facto partition of the province itself.

In the meantime, UNMIK announced it would request additional instructions from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on how to react in the event of Priština going ahead with its threats of a declaration of independence.

UNMIK spokesman in Priština Aleksandr Ivanko said yesterday that the UN mission “is ready for that day.”

“We have an operational plan and are ready to react, but for the time being there is no danger on the ground,” Ivanko said.

Ivanko reiterated that UNMIK and the Contact Group members had sent several diplomatic notes to the Serbian government, relating to the opening of a Ministry for a Kosovo office in the northern part of Kosovska Mitrovica.

The UNMIK spokesman announced that the “problem will be resolved by diplomatic means.”

Source: Tanjug/B92