On the 31st January 2024, at EUFOR HQ in Camp BUTMIR, Sarajevo, a ceremony took place to mark the Change of Command of the Force Commander (COM) of Operation Althea, European Union Force (EUFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).
Major General László Sticz of the Hungarian Defence Forces took over command from the outgoing COM EUFOR Major General Helmut Habermayer of the Austrian Armed Forces. During his address the outgoing COM EUFOR, Major General Habermayer thanked the soldiers, sailors, aircrews and civilians of EUFOR. Stating that, “I truly appreciate your daily work, which is important and will continue to matter. Be proud of what you are doing, it is essential to accomplishing the mission of EUFOR”. Major General Habermayer highlighted key events from his year as EUFOR Commander, including:
• Conducting a full inspection of BiH law enforcement agencies weaponry and registering more than 30,000 weapons in nearly 300 locations.
• EUFOR supporting the donation of 68 new vehicles for the AFBiH Demining battalion, financed by the European Peace Facility.
• The investment of 360,000 EUR to strengthen BIH “aviation network communication” and enhance the level of flight safety for EUFOR/AFBiH aircrafts
Incoming COM EUFOR, Major General Sticz in his address to the ceremony, congratulated his predecessor Major General Habermayer on his achievements as COM EUFOR and acknowledged the commitment of the 23 Troop Contributing Nations. Major General Sticz outlined his full commitment to accomplish the EUFOR ALTHEA mission and stated that he would continue the work of his predecessor to strengthen EUFOR’s military capabilities. He stated that, “we are here to support the local authorities, primarily the armed forces and law enforcement agencies, but we have the power to deter and if necessary, to defend against anyone who aims to destruct this safety and security”.
He stated that, in the spirit of the European Union’s Comprehensive Approach, he is looking forward to continuing working together with EUFOR’s international partners, the High Representative, the European Union Special Representative, the OSCE and the co-located NATO Headquarters in Sarajevo. As well as with the Ministry of Defence and the Law Enforcement Agencies of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Directly addressing the EUFOR’s personnel on parade, Major General Sticz stated that
“I am well prepared to assume command and looking forward to the upcoming year of command, but more importantly, the 20th anniversary of EUFOR”. He ended his address with his motto "Forward, Onward, Together in Bosnia and Herzegovina".
In his address, the EUFOR Operation Commander Lieutenant General Hubert Cottereau thanked the outgoing COM EUFOR Major General Habermayer for his “dedication to the Operation, and his unwavering commitment to support the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina”.
He also congratulated Major General Sticz on taking over as Commander of EUFOR in BiH and stated that “we all have full confidence that you will demonstrate determination in tackling EUFOR’s mission and tasks in support of BiH”.
The ceremony was also addressed by the EU Special Representative (EUSR) Ambassador Johann Sattler. The EUSR thanked the outgoing COM EUFOR Major General Habermayer for his dedication to EUFOR and BiH, and wished the incoming COM EUFOR Major General Sticz success in his position.