The Film City Military Base in Kosovo saw a change of command ceremony on 15th October: Major General Ferenc Kajári took over the command of KFOR from Italian General Franco Federici. With his appointment, for the first time in the history of the Kosovo peacekeeping mission, a Hungarian commander will head NATO's 22-year-long mission, for which some four thousand troops from twenty-eight countries are contributed.
The ceremony was attended by Hungarian Minister of Defence Tibor Benkő, Commander of the Hungarian Armed Forces Lieutenant General Romulusz Ruszin-Szendi, Command Sergeant Major of the Hungarian Defence Forces Zoltán Kaszab, and József Bencze, Ambassador of Hungary accredited to Kosovo.
In his keynote address, Admiral Robert P. Burke, Commander of NATO's Allied Joint Force Command Naples, emphasised that in addition to KFOR, the national government, the United Nations, the European Union, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe do a lot for the peace and security in Kosovo. KFOR’s outgoing commander Franco Federici also highlighted teamwork as the most important factor of the past year in making progress in a dynamically changing security environment.
Major General Ferenc Kajári emphasized that every military operation requires a sense of duty, reliability, and commitment. That is why he chose these three words as his own command motto for the next year of KFOR. He added that it is equally important for both the mission and its commander that all actors involved in the situation in Kosovo maintained similarly appropriate relationships with KFOR.
Following the ceremony, Tibor Benkő held bilateral talks with Italian Minister of Defence Lorenzo Guerini and Chief of Staff of the Italian Army Salvatore Farina. They reviewed matters having an affect on the defence forces of the two countries, as well as military issues that may further strengthen the relations between the two countries in the future. The Minister of Defence then handed over five hundred doses of combined rubella, measles, and mumps vaccines to immunise Afghan citizens evacuated from Afghanistan and temporarily stationed in Kosovo. As he emphasized, Hungary was the first to respond to the request to run a camp for evacuees, and if necessary, the country will continue its assistance to protect the health of people in distress.
The Minister of Defence then held a press conference with Lieutenant General Romulusz Ruszin-Szendi and Major General Ferenc Kajári. The commander of the Hungarian Armed Forces stressed that today, thanks to the work and achievements of the Hungarian soldiers up to now, Hungary could become a full member of a very exclusive club, since an active NATO mission will be led by a Hungarian general. In this respect, Tibor Benkő emphasized: the fact that the twenty-sixth commander of KFOR could be a Hungarian general, Major General Ferenc Kajári is the success not only of the Hungarian Armed Forces but the entire country.
The Defence Minister paid a visit to the HDF KFOR Contingent in Camp Novo Selo as well, where he thanked the soldiers serving in the area of operation for their work. As he emphasized, it is the duty of the Hungarian soldiers to perform their tasks at the highest standards, while the Hungarian government is obliged to provide its soldiers with the most modern equipment.