NATO Chief Lauds Kosovo's Progress Since 1999

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg visited Kosovo on Friday to inspect the NATO mission and meet political leaders who briefed him on the current situation.

"We have informed Mr Stoltenberg about current developments in Kosovo and the steps that have been taken so far in the direction of European and NATO integration. We also discussed Kosovo's interest in regional safety," Prime Minister Isa Mustafa said.

Stoltenberg visited Prishtina back in 2001 to meet Norwegian troops stationed in Kosovo as part of the KFOR peacekeeping forces.

"It is great to see the progress which has been made here since the last time I visited Prishtina. I am glad to see that the we and you, together, are moving forward," Stoltenberg said.

"Our mission has helped transform Kosovo into a safer place. The Western Balkans have also become more stable and a safer place," he added.

He said the KFOR mission would continue working on preserving a safe environment in Kosovo and guarantee freedom of movement for all citizens including minority Serbs.

"I commend you for your efforts to reach out to the Kosovo Serb community," he told local leaders, recalling the recent visit of the Kosovo Prime Minister to the historic Serb Orthodox Decani monastery as an example.

KFOR forces are currently involved in capacity building within the Kosovo Security Forces, which are expected to be transformed into the a regular army - Kosovo's first since declaring independence - within the coming year.

During the visit he met President Atifete Jahjaga and Foreign Minister Hashim Thaci as well as KFOR Commander Paolo Figliuolo.

NATO has been present in Kosovo since June 12, 1999. There are currently around 4,500 NATO soldiers in Kosovo and 31 troop...

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