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Draft report to the NATO Assembly: KFOR officials negotiated for the withdrawal of the attackers in Banjska

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Mark Lancaster, rapporteur at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, in the draft report that he presented today at the spring session of this mechanism in Sofia, included a report in which it is said that KFOR officials had negotiated for the withdrawal of a part of the group of armed Serbian attackers in Banjska.

The draft report "Western Balkans: New security challenges on NATO's doorstep" also includes data from the report of the International Crisis Group (April 2), which details the attack in late September 2023.

"After a brief period of de-escalation over the summer, in September 2023, around 30 armed men clashed with police in Banjska in northern Kosovo and barricaded themselves inside the Serbian Orthodox monastery, in what resulted in a siege that left one police officer and three attackers were killed. KFOR officials negotiated the withdrawal of the remainder of the group into the surrounding mountains, through which they disappeared. Kosovo authorities believe that potentially hundreds more fighters are hiding in the mountains between Banjska and the border with Serbia and have discovered a large arsenal of weapons with the capacity to cause significant damage and casualties – including anti-tank rocket launchers, mortar and grenade launchers, anti-tank mines and 24 vehicles (one armored)", says the presented draft report.

This draft report was presented on the second day of the work of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, on the agenda of which is the issue of advancing the status of Kosovo from an observer to an associate member. 

The normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia, security challenges and the threat of conflict are other issues mentioned in this draft report.
In the framework of this session, Kosovo expects that on Monday there will be a successful vote for advancing its status from an observer to an associate member of the Parliamentary Assembly.

Lord Mark Lancaster, representative from the United Kingdom, has requested that the allies be consulted regarding Kosovo's status in this mechanism.

"Allies should use consultative frameworks to advance the issue related to the status of Kosovo. Those who do not know the status of Kosovo, can think of Kosovo's participation in NATO and the partnership for peace", said Lancaster.

A day ago, the head of the Kosovar delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Driton Hyseni, expressed his expectation for a successful vote to advance the status of Kosovo in this mechanism. 

But the Speaker of the Parliament of Serbia, Ana Bërnabić, has launched a campaign to prevent this, sending a letter to the head of the Croatian delegation, in which she emphasized that the advancement of Kosovo's status would have negative political and security consequences.

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly is institutionally separate from NATO, but serves as an important link between NATO and member countries' parliaments. It consists of 281 delegates from all 32 NATO member countries.

In addition to them, delegates from 9 associated countries, 4 Mediterranean associated countries, as well as 8 parliamentary observer delegations also participate in its activities.