Charles Fries, Deputy Secretary-General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) for the Common Security and Defense Policy and Crisis Response, conveyed three messages from senior European official Josep Borrell at a press conference in Sarajevo, the first of which was praise for EUFOR Operation Althea as a success story about the cooperation between the European Union (EU) and NATO.
”EU countries have agreed that Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) still needs the role of EUFOR, ” Fries said.
EUFOR Quick Response Exercise was held in 2021 in the context of a potential natural disaster and providing assistance to local people throughout BiH, Fries said, recalling that EUFOR Althea, during the catastrophic floods in BiH, also offered helpto civilians.
On behalf of Borrell, he expressed gratitude to all soldiers participating in the exercise, as well as partners from BiH.
He told that the Armed Forces of BiH (AFBiH) are a true partner and added that the EU regularly invites BiH to contribute to peacekeeping missions abroad.
Borrell’s second message, conveyed by Fries at the press conference, refers to the engagement of the EU and solidarity with BiH.
In that regard, he pointed out the great progress of BiH in building a stable and secure environment in the past 25 yearsand also added that there is still a lot of hard work to be done so that all citizens of BiH had a clear and prosperous future within the EU.
”Our commitment and solidarity are visible to anyone who wants to see it. The EU is the largest donor and investor in the Balkans, ” Fries told, adding that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had announced 600 million euros in aid on Thursday, in addition to 5 million euros donated to the Western Balkans.
At the peak of the pandemic, the EU helped BiH with more than 80 million euros, and more than 1.6 million vaccines were provided through the Covax mechanism, and that number will rise, Fries explained.
The third message he sent during his stay in BiH from European official Borrell is that the key solution for BiH is integration into the EU, for which political leaders will have to take their part of the responsibility.
He reminded of the words of Ursula von der Leyen that the European perspective is real, which will be confirmed by the summit on October 6th,BHRT writes.