More Swiss troops will be drafted into peace-keeping duties in Kosovo if parliament approves a request from the government to increase the Swisscoy military contingent by another 30 personnel.
The governing Federal Council said on Wednesday that it wants both to extend Swisscoy’s missionexternal link beyond the end of 2020 and to beef up its forces to 195 troops. It warns that the situation in Kosovo has recently become less stable amid rising tensions with neighbouring Balkan country Serbia.
While there are no immediate fears of conflict breaking out, the Swiss government believes extra support of the NATO-led international peacekeeping force KFOR is necessary to keep order.
Swiss troops have been based in the region since an initial deployment of 160 personnel in 1999. This number grew to 235 before being downsized to the current level of 160. Parliament must approve any deployment of Swiss military abroad that exceeds 100 personnel. Since 2002, soldiers have been allowed to carry weapons abroad.
Between 2005 and 2017, Switzerland spent an average of CHF38.7 million ($38.72 million) a year on its Swisscoy mission, with costs rising to a peak of CHF43.7 million in 2017, before the contingent was downsized.
Swisscoy’s presence in Kosovo also has a domestic impact with around 200,000 people of Kosovar descent living in Switzerland.