On 18 January 2023, at EUFOR HQ in Camp BUTMIR, Sarajevo a ceremony took place to mark the Change of Command of the Force Commander of Operation Althea, European Union Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Major General Helmut Habermayer of the Austrian Army took over Command from outgoing COM EUFOR Major General Anton Wessely also of the Austrian Army. During his address the outgoing COM EUFOR, Major General Wessely stated that it had been his honour and privilege to cooperate with colleagues, the wider international community and BiH political and institutional representatives, working together in contributing to the goal of maintaining a safe and secure environment for all the people in BiH. Major General Wessely highlighted key events from his year as EUFOR Commander, including:
- The activation earlier in the year of the Intermediate Reserve Force (IRF) for the first time in EUFOR’s history, which was in response to the developments in the international security situation.
- Exercise EUFOR Quick Response 2022 which consisted of 5 weeks of intensive exercising and training, which was the longest, largest and most complex exercise conducted for many years.
- EUFOR reached a new level of professionalism in planning and conducting exercises with its partners from the Armed Forces of BiH (AFBiH) and the Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs).
Incoming COM EUFOR, Major General Habermayer in his address to the ceremony, congratulated his predecessor Major General Wessely on his achievements as COM EUFOR and acknowledged the commitment of the 21 Troop Contributing Nations, whose soldiers contribute to the success of the EUFOR mission. Major General Habermayer outlined his full commitment to accomplish the EUFOR ALTHEA mission and stated that he would continue the path of his predecessor to strengthen EUFOR’s military capabilities. He stated that EUFOR would remain a credible, impartial and supportive partner, prepared for any situation that might arise.
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 Defense and the Law Enforcement Agencies of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addressing the EUFOR’s soldiers Major General Habermayer stated that he was looking forward to meeting them all in person as soon as possible and emphasised the importance EUFOR’s motto: “One Mission, One Team”.
In his address, the EUFOR Operation Commander Lieutenant General Hubert Cottereau thanked the outgoing COM EUFOR Major General Wessely for his amazing dedication to the Operation, and his unwavering commitment to support the authorities BiH in maintaining a Safe and Secure environment. He congratulated Major General Habermayer on taking over as Commander of EUFOR in BiH and stated that under Major General Habermayer’s command and clear direction, he has no doubt that EUFOR Althea will continue to be a useful presence in BiH.
The ceremony was also addressed by the EU Special Representative Ambassador Johann Sattler. Ambassador Sattler emphasized the positive aspects of granting the EU Candidacy Status to BIH as a clear sign of strong support to the people of BiH. Sattler thanked the outgoing COM EUFOR Major General Wessely for his dedication to EUFOR and BiH. Ambassador Sattler wished the incoming COM EUFOR Major General Habermayer success in his position.