Prepared by: Ridona Berisha
A typical procedure of the KFOR mission in Kosovo, which is connected to its contingent and the fulfillment of its mandate-derived duties, has been attempted to be misinterpreted by some media outlets by linking it to developments in the predominantly Serbian-populated northern region.
This information was initially verified by the Hibrid.info platform and the texts were evaluated as “click-bait”.
On August 16th, 2023, KFOR announced that it would increase the movement of its troops and vehicles in Kosovo. However, nowhere is it mentioned that this is related to tensions in the north, as claimed by portals like Sot.com.al, TeSheshi, and Kercova.com.
In the headlines of these portals published one day after KFOR’s announcement on June 17th, 2023, it was stated: “Tensions in the North, KFOR Comes Out with the Latest Announcement: In the Coming Days…”
In the content of the article, KFOR’s announcement and the reasons for the increased movements were discussed. The article’s content does not align with the headline through which the portals claimed that as a result of tensions in the north, KFOR increased its movements.
So, this article is “clickbait” written for financial gains, as the headline has no basis in the content of the following text. Through such articles about an issue of significant public interest, the aim is to attract attention by using sensational headlines.
In KFOR’s statement sent to the media, it is written that “In the coming days, there will be an increase in the movement of KFOR troops and vehicles within Kosovo due to the normal procedures of accepting and delivering contingents. Additionally, exercises will be conducted to test and maintain operational capabilities to ensure the same level of readiness and preparedness for all units in the field.”
Furthermore, KFOR has indicated that there might be traffic disruptions due to these exercises and has urged drivers to be cautious if they are near military convoys.
“While these exercises will be conducted in a manner that minimizes concerns and impact on the local population, there is a possibility of traffic disruptions and noticeable military movements. Therefore, KFOR advises all drivers to pay special attention if they are close to military vehicle convoys,” the statement reads. Based on this announcement, it cannot be concluded, as some portals have done, that KFOR’s movements are a result of tensions in the north.
Such reports linking to events in the north have been frequent since May 29, when clashes occurred between violent protesters and KFOR. They began after Albanian mayors were placed in municipal buildings in three northern municipalities, under the assistance of special units of the Kosovo Police. The epicenter of tensions was in Zvečan, where around 25 KFOR members were injured as a result of the clashes. Even after taking steps to de-escalate the situation in the north, KFOR continues to provide security around the municipal buildings in Leposavić and Zvečan.
*This article is published as part of the Western Balkans Regional Initiative against disinformation. Western Balkans Anti-Disinformation Hub: exposing malign influences through watchdog journalism.