Bayraktar in the Balkans: Kosovo orders fleet of Turkish drones

Kosovo’s leader announced on Sunday that the country has procured a fleet of Bayraktar drones manufactured in Turkey. The purchase comes as Kosovo grapples with unrest in the northern region, where ethnic Serbs reject the authority of the Pristina government.

Prime Minister Albin Kurti took to Facebook to share a post featuring himself and the defense minister, standing alongside a drone. He said that the recent investment in security measures is contributing to enhancing the safety of the country.

Kurti did not disclose the number or price of the drones.

Furthermore, he did not specify the specific purposes for which the drones would be employed. It is worth noting that Bayraktar drones have gained international recognition following their usage by Ukraine’s military in confrontations with Russian forces.

“Kosovo is now even safer and always proud,” Kurti said, adding that his government had in the last two years raised troop numbers by 80% and the defence budget by more than 100%.

The young republic, established 15 years ago, is in the process of establishing an army with a long-term goal of comprising 5,000 regular soldiers and 3,000 reservists.

NATO military alliance maintains a presence in the country, with over 4,500 peacekeepers, despite its population of 1.8 million people.

In recent months, Kosovo has experienced a surge in ethnic violence, particularly in its northern region, which is inhabited by approximately 50,000 ethnic Serbs who receive support from Belgrade.

In May, unrest erupted when ethnic Albanian mayors assumed office after a local election that was boycotted by Serbs. The Serbs were demanding the implementation of a decade-old agreement that would provide them with increased autonomy.

Kosovo has expressed its aspiration to join NATO; however, the path to membership is hindered by the fact that four members of the alliance have yet to recognize Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008.

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