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Our homeland owes the soldiers recognition and thanks

Text: Péter Snoj | Photo: Kinga Szováthy |  13:20 December 15, 2021

On Tuesday, 14 December President of Hungary János Áder paid a visit to the Force Headquarters of EUFOR Operation Althea in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. The head of state’s entourage included Defence Minister Dr. Tibor Benkő and Lieutenant General Dr. Romulusz Ruszin-Szendi, Commander, Hungarian Defence Forces, who also visited the Hungarian soldiers serving in a foreign mission during the holiday season.

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Commander EUFOR Austrian Major General Alexander Platzer received the members of the Hungarian delegation with military honors at Camp Butmir, the base of EUFOR Operation Althea. In what followed, the head of state – in the company of Defence Minister Tibor Benkő and Lieutenant General Romulusz Ruszin-Szendi, Commander, Hungarian Defence Forces – held a discussion in an official meeting with the leaders of EUFOR and NATO HQ Sarajevo, and then received a first-hand situation update on the present status and the challenges ahead of EUFOR Operation Althea and within it, the HDF EUFOR Contingent.

Speaking at a ceremonial staff meeting organized for the members of the contingent, Brigadier General Szilárd Gerőfi, Chief of Staff, EUFOR Force Headquarters said that peace and stability can only be implemented through a policy built on cooperation, mutual esteem among nations and economic benefits. “The peacekeeping mission EUFOR Althea and the Hungarian contingent playing a key role in it are staying in Bosnia-Herzegovina to guarantee the aforementioned. Currently, Hungary is the second largest troop contributing nation in the EUFOR mission, with altogether 168 Hungarian troops serving in Sarajevo”, said the brigadier general. He underlined that the population of the country trusts the EUFOR as an international force which is capable of preventing the recurrence of the horrors of the period between 1992 and 1995.

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In his speech, János Áder stated that our national image is influenced by not only the great turning points in history. “At least as important as these are the others’ personal experiences. Our prestige and image are fundamentally influenced by Hungarian negotiating skills, Hungarian work capacity, expertise, credibility, the Hungarian resourcefulness, camaraderie, sense of duty, steadfastness, and allied loyalty”, he said. The president of Hungary added that whenever Hungarian soldiers, deployed in various multinational units, build bridges and schools, conduct reconnaissance, transportation, protect peace and prevent conflicts, educate, train and mentor, they actually build prestige at all times everywhere. “For in fact, prestige does not come free, but rather only in exchange for serious, dedicated and sweaty work. This is true of all Hungarian presences, and is far true of military presence. It influences our public image, and, we can safely say, our history, too – immediately or in the long run.” – emphasized János Áder.

He pointed out that the EUFOR Operation Althea is an excellent case in point, as it adapts itself to the timely, so to speak historical expectations year after year. “The homeland owes you recognition and thanks for standing your ground here at your duty station in Bosnia, performing your tasks very professionally and earning good reputation for Hungary”, he said.

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Speaking about the approaching holiday season, he pointed out that all around the world, people are celebrating peace or pray for it as a longed-for gift. “Nowadays, they pray even more for health and for the end of pandemic. We can see on a daily basis that without your service, without a vocation similar to yours, neither peace could be guaranteed nor the pandemic could be successfully combated”, he pointed out.

In closing the ceremonial staff meeting – where also present was Krisztián Pósa, Hungary’s ambassador to Sarajevo –, President of Hungary János Áder, Defence Minister Tibor Benkő and Lieutenant General Dr. Romulusz Ruszin-Szendi presented those gift packs which, they hope, will make it easier for the soldiers to spend the holiday season far from their families.

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In what followed, the members of the delegations visited a Hungarian wooden grave post in the memorial park of Camp Butmir, where they laid the wreaths of remembrance. The visit to Sarajevo ended with a meeting with the members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina and a bilateral discussion.