Largest military exercise “Defender Europe ‘23” officially starts in Kosovo

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Kosovo hosted the opening ceremony of the joint military exercise “Defender Europe 2023” this Sunday, an event organized in Pristina.

Present in the opening ceremony were Kosovo’s President Vjosa Osmani, Prime Minister Albin Kurti, Defense Minister Armend Mehaj, Commander of the Kosovo Security Force Bashkim Jashari, American Ambassador to Pristina Jeff Hovenier and other public figures.

Speaking to the Kosovo Security Force soldiers, President Osmani said they are “guardians of peace and stability, in an ever complex and challenging world”.

“This international exercise is a symbol of our collective decisiveness to keep peace and stability in a world that faces challenges. It is a reminder that our power does not only reside in the strength of our guns, but in the relations and alliances we build, and the joint values we cultivate.”

Meanwhile, PM Kurti called this the biggest military exercise to ever have happened in Kosovo.

“More than 1,300 military forces of the Kosovo Security Force will perform military training tasks, alongside 24 thousand soldiers of the armed forces of the 25 NATO countries and partner countries of the United States.”

On the other hand, Ambassador Hovenier emphasized the importance of exercises such as “Defender Europe 2023”, while the Russian aggression in Ukraine continues.

“One of the goals of this training is to demonstrate the ability of the U.S. military forces to quickly deploy combat-ready troops and equipment to reassure allies, deter those who might threaten peace in Europe and protect this continent from aggression.”

According to the ambassador, the exercise also serves the purpose “to demonstrate the commitment of European allies and partners to improve the scale, capacities and interoperability of their armies”.

Citizens of Kosovo had the chance to take a closer look at some of the equipment and vehicles of the army, while the exercises will last until June 2nd.

The exercises codenamed “Defender Europe” are annual multinational exercises led by the U.S. and NATO. Their nature is protective and focuses on preventing aggression.

Albania was one of the hosts of these military exercises back in 2021.

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