The Serbs living in the north of Kosovo flatly refuse to abide by the agreement reached in Brussels, which makes them deprived of the Serbia’s citizenship in favor of becoming Kosovars, or the citizens of Kosovo. Soon they will face a military force called in to guarantee the fulfillment of Brussels accords. By the end of May – beginning of June the formations of 525th US Army Battlefield Surveillance Brigade come to take part in the three-week-long exercises in Hohenfels, Germany. The brigade is using the training event to complete the final preparations before taking over Multinational Battle Group-East as a part of Kosovo Forces. The future mission includes combat planning, preventing and putting down public unrest, evacuation of wounded and interaction with civil officials.
The brigade's headquarters and 1st Squadron, 38 Cavalry Regiment, which originally was preparing to deploy to Afghanistan, will make up the first active-duty unit deployed to Kosovo in 10 years, including the areas of: Kosovska Kamenica, Vitina, Gnjilane, Uroševac, Shtimlje, Kachanic and Štrpce. Acting alongside the KFOR and EULEX, the US will guarantee freedom of movement removing barricades mounted by Serbs on the way of Albanian police and special units built in order to deny them access to the north of Kosovo. (1)
Camp Bondsteel, the main base of the United States Army under KFOR command, is located near Uroševac in the eastern part of Kosovo. The base is named after Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipient United States Army Staff Sergeant James L. Bondsteel. It is the largest US military facility in Europe, a key facility for exercising control over the Adriatic, Mediterranean and Black seas, as well as the routes to the Middle East, North Africa and the Caucasus. It was built in record-short period of time to be established in June 1999. Construction of the base began immediately after the controversial 78-day NATO bombing on the former Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War.
The base serves as headquarters for eastern sector of KFOR/NATO area of responsibility. It occupies around 955 acres (3.86 km2) hectares, including 300 various facilities: runways, hangars, helicopter launching pads, artillery and tank units infrastructure, shops, gyms, libraries, two churches and a hospital considered to be the most modern one in Europe. It boasts 25 km overall length of paved roads. The outer perimeter of the base is about 14km and is surrounded by a 2.5m high earthen and concrete barrier wall. The base is protected by 84km of concertina wire and 11 guard towers, built with concrete pad and accessible entrance ladders, around the perimeter of the camp. They allow the soldiers to view the area from 18ft above the ground.
The operational range is far from being limited by Kosovo only encompassing the whole of the Balkans. Tirana, Pristina, Bologna, Draca, Skopje and Tusla airbases are able to provide logistical support if need be.
The base can exercise security functions for the planned US-UK pipeline connecting the Caspian Sea – Bulgaria – Macedonia – the Albanian port of Vlora (or Vlore) in the Adriatic to make oil delivered to Europe and the United States by supertankers. It’s interesting to note that the Trans-Balkans pipeline is to be built by the very same Halliburton Company which former US Vice-President Dick Cheney is known to be closely connected with. (2) Council of Europe’s High Commissioner on Human Rights Alvaro Hill-Robles described the camp as a "smaller version of Guantanamo" following his visit there in 2002. The base is reported to become a prisoners transit facility.
According to Washington, the Balkans region is to become part and parcel of Euro-Atlantic structures. US State Department is absolutely sure its Balkans positions are unshakable, and Serbia will irreversibly become part of new geopolitical reality ceding the control over the southern and northern parts of Kosovo.
Philip Gordon, Special Assistant to the President and White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf Region and former Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian affairs, has noted, «the United States continues to strongly support Kosovo’s sovereignty and territorial independence, and we believe that whatever government is formed in Belgrade it should fully implement the agreements that have been reached in the dialogue so far, and carry on with that dialogue in whatever form is necessary to reach the practical agreements that will help improve the lives of people on both sides of the border, which is what we need to be focused on in the coming weeks, months and year» (3). Back in July 2012 admitted the United States took a tough position on Serbia. According to him, «Neither we nor the EU expect Serbia to recognize Kosovo at this point – it won’t. However, Serbia will have to come to terms with the reality of a democratic, sovereign, independent, multi-ethnic Kosovo with its current borders. We can and will help with this process. To that end, Belgrade must end its support for the illegal parallel security and judicial structures in northern Kosovo and ensure freedom of movement for all. In addition, Belgrade should not block efforts by Kosovo to implement decentralization measures that will give people living there a normal life for the first time in 13 years. Partition is not an option: neither for Serbia and Kosovo nor for any other country represented here today». (4)
Visiting Belgrade on May 19-20 Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the date for talks on Serbia’s entry into the European Union will be fixed pretty soon, perhaps in a few weeks, after it complies with the Brussels accords. (5) The process is hindered by the unwillingness of Serbs living in the north of Kosovo to lose their identity becoming part of Kosovo-Albanian entity plunged in drug dealing and other criminal activities quagmire. The instrument to pressure the stubborn Serbs – the formations of the US Army 525th brigade – is ready to depart for Kosovo deployment.