Britain believes Kosovo troop levels sufficient to handle tension

Other News Materials 19 February 2008 15:20 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - The British government does not believe that troop levels in Kosovo need to be increased to deal with tension arising from the province's disputed declaration of independence, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Tuesday.

Britain, which has recognized the new state, contributes soldiers to a 16,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping force stationed in Kosovo.

Although there are risks involved in the present situation, diplomats believe the military presence on the ground was sufficient to deal with it, Miliband said in a BBC interview.

British diplomats in Belgrade and Pristina, Kosovo's capital, had reported a "tense situation in Serbia, a euphoric one in Kosovo, but one which did not lead them to believe we were going to see a breakdown in order which would go beyond the current NATO requirement," said Miliband.

He dismissed fears expressed by Spain and other European Union countries that independence for Kosovo could trigger similar demands from separatist groups in other countries.

"This is a unique case and I think it's not one which can be equated to the Basque issue or some of the other issues that have been raised," said Miliband.

"I understand the fears, but I think we have seen the dangers of the European Union standing aside when we did so in the 1990s to catastrophic effect."