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Defense Minister Guerini visits Kosovo. Italy taking over the Command of KFOR Mission

The Minister of Defence, Lorenzo Guerini, visited the Italian contingent in Kosovo today, on the occasion of the transfer ceremony to Italy of NATO KFOR mission command, active in the country since 1999, to promote security and stability. Taking over the command from Division General Michele Ristuccia, successor of the Hungarian Major General Ferenc Kajári, kicks off the thirteenth Italian mandate leading the multinational peacekeeping forces serving in the area.

“Today we receive dramatic news from Ukraine, of Russian bombardments conducted indiscriminately on cities, with civilian targets, claiming victims among the population. These are criminal acts to which we must respond standing firmly by Ukraine and demanding an end to this war that brings suffering to the population. We must reaffirm our support without ambiguities, very clearly: Italy is beside Ukraine and its people”, said the Minister addressing the contingent.

“Putin’s unjustified and unjustifiable aggression against Ukraine is a wound in the heart of Europe, threatening the global security architecture as we know it”, the Minister added. “Those who wanted this war, take a sincere look at what is happening, at the risks we are facing and stop this criminal activity immediately. I hope that the voices of war will give room to efforts for rightful peace. Without justice there is no peace”.

Minister Guerini, accompanied by the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Giuseppe Cavo Dragone, was welcomed in the country by the President of the Republic of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, NATO representatives and the Italian Ambassador in Pristina, Antonello De Riu. Later, he attended the taking over ceremony, during which General Michele Ristuccia succeeded Hungarian Major General Ferenc Kajári, thus starting the 13th Italian mandate leading the multinational peacekeeping forces serving in the country.

“Italy”, the Minister continued while addressing the Italian contingent, “does not shy away from the challenges and responsibilities that its role and history call for, to take on in this region, through multiple activities and commitments, both bilaterally and within the organisations to which we belong. We have been in Kosovo for over 20 years and we are among the most committed countries”. Particularly at this time, added Minister Guerini, “our work within KFOR is fundamental to maintain the stability of this Region and contrast any indirect consequences of the ongoing conflict”.

“Kosovo”, he concluded, “will always be a friendly country of great importance to us: both for its geographical proximity and for the impact of its stability on the balance of Europe and the Mediterranean”.