“The peace of the Balkans is ours as well, as without the peace of Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is no peace for the Western Balkans, nor for Hungary” – said the defence minister at the EUFOR ALTHEA launching ceremony in Bálna Defence Centre, Budapest on Monday.
Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky said that Hungary has already participated in the European Union’s Bosnia and Herzegovina operation but from January, the mission will have a Hungarian commander and the Hungarian contingent will be represented by an outstanding force of approximately 400 personnel, which is almost three times the current number. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, 250 of them will be present: the Hungarian Defence Forces will provide air search and rescue and air evacuation teams, as well as an EOD team with dog patrols, medical care and logistical support and supply. And further 150 men will be on standby in Hungary to support the operation: a maneuver company, a military police team, a engineer detachment and a CBRN team with water purifying capability – explained the minister.
Praising the future commander, Major General László Sticz, the defence minister said that the best general officer was chosen for the task, a leader with ample experience. Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky underlined that the participants take the tasks over in difficult circumstances because there is unprecedented pressure on each mission requiring military presence due to the weakened security context. Besides, there is a serious migration pressure on the southern border, as terrorist groups are increasing in activity, and the wounds and traces of the South Slavic War, as well as its triggering forces are still with us – said the minister. Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky also mentioned that the mission is a great honour and opportunity for the Hungarian armed forces development to be tested and to prove its capability.
Major General László Sticz, future EUFOR commander also said that the peace and stability of the Western Balkan is in the fundamental interest of Hungary, that is why Hungarian soldiers have already been present in Bosnia and Herzegovina for almost 30 years. According to the commander, the fact that the NATO KFOR mission had been led by a Hungarian general officer for one year from autumn 2021 played an important role in Hungary’s successful application for leading this mission because it had allowed the Hungarian Defence Forces to prove their ability not only to participate in such an outstanding operation but to lead it.