Defence Minister Kristof Szalay-Bobrovniczky - Photo: Facebook

Defence Minister: ‘Peace in Balkans our peace, too’

There is no peace in the Western Balkans, nor in Hungary, without peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the defence minister said on Monday, addressing a farewell ceremony for Hungarians to serve on the EU's EUFOR ALTHEA mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Kristof Szalay-Bobrovniczky noted that the mission’s command would be taken over by Major General Laszlo Sticz from January 2024 and the staff of the Hungarian contingent serving there would be tripled to 400 troops.

A 250-strong Hungarian unit deployed on the field will provide areal search, rescue and evacuation tasks, patrols, medical assistance and logistical support, the minister said. In addition, a 150-strong unit composed of a manoeuvre squadron, a military police group, a technical group and a chemical defence group with water purification capabilities will stand by in Hungary to support the mission, he said.

The minister said the Hungarian contingent would be deployed “in a difficult time probably never seen before”. He noted a deteriorating security situation in the region with a pressure posed by migration in the south, terrorist organisations becoming more active and “the traces and wounds of the Balkan wars”.

Szalay-Bobrovniczky called the ALTHEA mission “a great honour and at the same time a huge opportunity to test and prove Hungary’s army development [programme]”.

Sticz said peace and stability in the Western Balkans was in Hungary’s vested interest which was why Hungary had been serving on missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina for almost 30 years.

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