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Thursday, 27 December, 2001, 16:07 GMT
Nato reduces Kosovo no-fly zone
Yugoslav troops patrolling the zone
The ground buffer zone was abolished earlier this year.
Nato-led peacekeepers and the Yugoslav army have signed an accord which reduces the military no-fly zone around Kosovo.

Under the deal, the air exclusion zone is to be reduced from 25 km to 10 km.


Yugoslavia is heading towards its old allies, after all that happened in the last 10 years

Yugoslav representative Nebojsa Covic
The measure is being seen as another sign of improving relations between the former foes.

Earlier this year, Nato abolished its 5 km wide ground safety zone between Kosovo and Serbia.

The two buffer zones were established in 1999 as part of a deal that ended Nato's bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.

Restoring normality

K-For spokesman Vincent Campredon said the accord to reduce the air exclusion buffer was "the first step in achieving Nato's intent, which is to totally relax the air security zone and ultimately to abolish it".

He said that the agreement signalled "the significant progress towards the restoration of normality and the spirit of co-operation between Kosovo and Serbia".

Belgrade' Kosovo representative Nebojsa Covic also praised the accord as a significant breakthrough.

"Yugoslavia is heading towards its old allies, after all that happened in the last 10 years," he said.

The no-fly zone restricts any aircraft capable of carrying combat ordnance from patrolling the area.

It also remains the only buffer between the K-For troops in Kosovo and the Yugoslav army, following the abolition of the ground safety zone, GSZ, earlier this year.

The area had been a base for ethnic Albanian guerrillas, which have since withdrawn and disbanded.

The return of Serb troops to the GSZ was seen by the international community as an important step towards bringing peace and stability to the region.

See also:

24 May 01 | Europe
Serbs retake Kosovo buffer zone
14 Mar 01 | Europe
Yugoslav units enter buffer zone
27 Feb 01 | Europe
Nato to reduce Kosovo buffer zone
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