On Friday 13 September, Brigadier General László Szabó, EUFOR’s Chief of Staff attended a parade put on by the departing Hungarian contingent at Camp Butmir.
Addressing the troops outside their national building, he said,
”Not only as Chief of Staff, but also as the most senior Hungarian on the mission, I want to thank you all for the 6 months service you have given to EUFOR. I wish you a safe trip home and an enjoyable rest before your duties recommence”.
Major Gabor Gyuran the Commander of the departing soldiers was singled out for special thanks as his leadership had ensured a successful mission and the smooth transfer of duties to the replacement Hungarian troops.
Bosnia-Herzegovina, one of the 6 republics that made up the former Yugoslavia, entered a period of bitter war in 1992, a war that cost the lives of over 100,000 people. Finally in 1995, with the assistance of the International Community and NATO, the war was brought to an end with the signing, in Paris, of the Dayton Accords. The long road to restoring peace and prosperity in this war ravaged nation had begun.
The 2003 Thessaloniki Declaration confirmed that the future of the Western Balkans, of which Bosnia and Herzegovina is both a central and significant part, lies within the European Union. Operation ALTHEA is one facet of a comprehensive and coherent European Union commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina. It adds an extra dimension to the existing political engagement, assistance programmes and police and monitoring missions that are already underway.
ALTHEA is the third and largest military operation that the EU has embarked upon to date. The European Military Force, known as EUFOR, is a manifestation of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). From the ESDP has evolved the Common Foreign Security Policy (CFSP). The CFSP, in addition to the objective of strengthening the security of the Union in all ways, also has a prime objective of preserving peace and strengthening international security in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter.
On 2 December 2004, 9 years after the war ended, the European Union launched a military operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) entitled Operation ALTHEA*. This followed the decision by NATO to hand over its own peacekeeping mission that had maintained security in the region since the war ended.
The EU deployed a robust military force (EUFOR) at the same manpower levels as NATO’s SFOR (just under 7,000 troops) to ensure continued compliance with the Dayton/Paris Agreement and to contribute to a safe and secure environment (SASE) in BiH.