Compiled by Stop NATO

Interfax May 14, 2012

Moscow opposes plans to train Syrian militants in Kosovo

MOSCOW: The Russian Foreign Ministry is concerned by the reports that Syrian militants will be trained in Kosovo, and has urged the international community to prevent that from happening.

“Lately there have been media reports about contacts between Syrian opposition representatives and the authorities of the so-called Republic of Kosovo. This is not just about ‘exchange of experience’ in organizing separatist movements aimed at toppling existing regimes, it is also about training Syrian militants in Kosovo,” the ministry said in a statement issued on Monday.

They intend to use areas that are geographically similar to the Syrian landscape, the ministry said. It is likely that training centers will be opened at the former bases of the Kosovo Liberation Army.

“Such intentions raise concerns. They run counter to the efforts of United Nations-Arab League Special Envoy Kofi Annan, backed by the entire international community. Moreover, turning Kosovo into an international site for training militants from various militant groups could become a serious destabilizing factor spreading beyond the Balkan region,” the statement said.

“We are calling on international organizations present in the province to take whatever steps necessary to foil such schemes,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Russian Information Agency Novosti May 14, 2012

Russia Warns Against Training Syrian Rebels in Kosovo

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Monday urged international bodies operating in Kosovo to prevent the region from turning into a training ground for Syrian rebels.

A delegation from the Syrian opposition visited Kosovo in April to allegedly make a deal on exchanging experience in guerilla warfare against ruling authorities.

So far, the fractured Syrian opposition has been unable to form a steady front against the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.

The Russian ministry said in a statement that the talks covered not only the ways of organizing armed resistance against authorities but also the training of Syrian militants in Kosovo.

“There are plans to use the areas [in Kosovo] that resemble the terrain in Syria. The possibility of setting up training camps at the former bases of the Kosovo Liberation Army [KLA] is also being discussed,” the statement said.

“Transforming Kosovo into an international training ground for armed militants may become a serious destabilizing factor that could extend beyond the Balkans,” the document said. “We urge international bodies operating in Kosovo to take all necessary steps to prevent these plans.”

The ethnic Albanian KLA fought a separatist war against the regime of President Slobodan Milosevic in 1998-99. About 10,000 people died in the Kosovo conflict.

Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in February 2008.

Both Serbia and Russia have refused to recognize Kosovo’s independence.