BUDAPEST – From November, Major General Ferenc Kajári will take over the one-year command over NATO’s peacekeeping mission in Kosovo (KFOR) from the Italian Franco Federici. It will be the first time that an officer from Hungary is at the head of KFOR.
From 2000 until today, KFOR commanders have been from Italy, Great Britain, France, Germany, Norway and Spain.
According to MTI, Kajári assessed that the appointment is “a serious recognition of the readiness of the Hungarian armed forces”.
“KFOR is the largest NATO operation in 2021 and consist of over 3500 soldiers from 27 countries, and Hungary will provide the third-largest unit”, Kajári reminded on Wednesday, addressing the media from the Hungarian Army Training Center in Szolnok.
KFOR currently has 397 soldiers from Hungary. The United States (660) and Italy (628) have a larger number of soldiers.
“Hungarian officers will, among others, be in the position of political advisor to the commander and head of the KFOR legal advisory team”, Kajári told.
According to him, KFOR has been providing peace and security in Kosovo since 1999. The situation in the Western Balkans is “stabile but fragile”, Kajári said, adding that KFOR was working with Kosovo’s law enforcement forces and the European Union’s EULEX to prevent unrest.
In 1996, Kajári participated in the IFOR mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and then in the African Union Mission in Sudan and Afghanistan.
Earlier this year, the Chief of the General Staff of the Hungarian Army, General Ferenc Korom, assessed for the Balkan Security Network that the decision to assign the position of commander to this country is a recognition of the results so far.
“Our intention has been officially accepted and approved by NATO officials…We are very proud that a representative of the Hungarian Armed Forces will be able to be in charge of this important area. We consider the final decision of the NATO leadership and the support of our partners from the region during that process to be an obvious recognition for everything we have done so far”, Korom told.
He stated that KFOR is very important for Hungary, because that idea is becoming more and more important every year, and he believes that it should soon become the most important NATO mission.
“Given that it is a NATO mission, we consider Hungary’s participation as a fulfillment of an obligation arising from our commitment to the Alliance and which significantly contributes to the stabilization of the region”, Korom said.
He said that for Hungary, the Western Balkans is of the utmost importance, which is why Hungary has set aside large sources for the KFOR mission in Kosovo and EUFOR ALTHEA in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Earlier this week, more than 200 soldiers from Hungary deployed within the KFOR Tactical Reserve Battalion were awarded NATO medals for their contribution to the mission which ends in September this year. As part of the NATO – KFOR mission, the Tactical Reserve Battalion contributes to guaranteeing a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all communities living in Kosovo, in accordance with the mandate of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244.