NATO Medal Parade in KosovoText: First Lieutenant Bence Visnyei | Photo: by the author |  14:18 March 6, 2023
The tour of duty of the 27th rotation of the HDF KFOR Contingent is nearing its end in Kosovo. The backbone of the more-than-400-strong contingent has been made up of the Hungarian Defence Forces 1st Armored Brigade, but several other military organizations have contributed troops for the time of the foreign mission. In recognition of their service abroad over the last six months, the soldiers received their NATO medals at an event held in Camp Novo Selo.
The medal parade took place in the presence of Brigadier General József Szpisják, Deputy Commander of KFOR, Ambassador and EU Integration Advisor László Domján and Béla Bozsik, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Hungary in Pristina. The guests were received by Lieutenant Colonel Sándor Horváth, Commander, HDF KFOR Tactical Reserve Battalion and by Colonel Dr. Norbert Mohácsi, Commander, Camp Novo Selo. During the ceremony, after the reception of the guests and the joint singing of Hungary’s national anthem, Brigadier General József Szpisják and Lieutenant Colonel Sándor Horváth presented letters of appreciation to those members of the contingent who had contributed to the success of the mission through their outstanding service.
After the presentation of the recognitions, Brigadier General József Szpisják delivered a speech, in which he summarized and praised the six-month work of the contingent, pointing out that its personnel had performed their duties in the most critical period during the last ten years of KFOR.
“In December, the conflict culminated in setting up roadblocks around northern Kosovo. The political and ethnic tension was palpable. The developing situation resulted in increased workloads and required continuous readiness and military presence of you. Even under such pressure, the KFOR TACRES Battalion carried out its tasks professionally in a disciplined and exemplary manner. With this, it has once again won and strengthened the international recognition of our troops and actively contributed to preserving the stability of the Western Balkans and thereby the security of Europe. You have performed your duties during the holiday season far away from your families, which, I know, is not an easy job, and I take this opportunity to thank you again for your service.
Your mission and your tasks, however, are not over yet, since you have the period of handover-takeover ahead of you. I ask you to preserve your results, our results, that have been achieved so far, and carry out the handover so that it can ensure smooth task execution and professional continuity. From my experience, I know that it is not always easy to return to the family from a foreign mission, because you will have to reintegrate yourselves into your family circle. My advice is that you should be patient and understanding with your loved ones, give them and yourselves time for returning to your earlier familiar life. The last six months have placed a burden on them, too, since it is often the ones we leave at home who find it more difficult to endure our absence”, said Brigadier General József Szpisják.
After Brigadier General Szpisják’s speech, Field Chaplain Lieutenant Colonel Gergely Hankóczi said the blessing, which was followed by the presentation of the medals. The medal parade finished with the NATO Hymn, the Szózat (second national anthem of Hungary) and a ceremonial march of the troops of the contingent.