Germany's parliament will decide on Thursday, June 5, whether to keep its soldiers in Kosovo for another year. The peacekeeping mission is seen as crucial to maintaining order in the former Serbian province.
NATO soldiers are keeping the peace in Kosovo
Germany's Bundestag is likely to approve a mandate which would keep German soldiers in Kosovo until June 2009. Germany currently has about 2,870 soldiers as part of the NATO peacekeeping mission (KFOR).
The request to extend the German army's mandate in Kosovo is likely to pass as it has the support of the two parties that make up Germany's ruling coalition, the Social Democrats (SPD) and Christian Democrats (CDU). Only Germany's Left party has said it will vote against the extension.
The German government also wants to send about 180 police to the area as part of a proposed EU peace and justice force, which is scheduled to deploy later this year.
Kosovo's rocky transition
Kosovo incurred the wrath of Serbia when it declared independence in February 2008. Since then, occasional spurts of violence have worried foreign peacekeepers. Earlier this year, clashes between Serbs and UN peacekeepers in the northern Kosovo town of Mitrovica left one UNMIK (United Nations Mission in Kosovo) soldier dead and injured a dozen others.
Kosovo has been in a state of continual crisis since NATO drove out Serb forces with bombs nine years ago. That led to Kosovo being administered by the United Nations, which still decides issues such as policing, the judiciary, customs and privatization.
NATO is expected to have peacekeepers in Kosovo for at least another five years.