Ambassadors of Great Britain and Germany in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mihael Tatham and Joachim Schmidt, pointed yesterday again to the importance of BiH’s participation in the ISAF peace mission in Afghanistan.

Together with Brigadier General David B. Enyeart, Commander of NATO Headquarters in Sarajevo, Soren Knudsen, Military Attache of the Kingdom of Denmark in the Balkans, Brigadier Kenan Dautović, Commander of Peace Support Operations Training Center (PSOTC) and other officials from NATO and the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, they participated at a conference titled „Contribution of BiH to the ISAF peace mission“.

Political stability

The event took place at PSOTC in Butmir, and was organized by Atlantic Initiative in BiH and Peace Support Operations Training Center, under auspices of the Embassy of the United Kingdom in BiH. They managed to gather 60 students from Sarajevo, Eastern Sarajevo, from Bosniak and Croat universities in Mostar and from Bijeljina.

Since October last year an Infantry Unit of the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina numbering 45 soldiers and two officers has been deployed to Afghanistan, to serve within the ISAF mission as part of the Danish Combat Group. Ambassador Tatham believes this is very important because of Bosnia’s aspirations to become a NATO member. Ambassador Schmidt mentioned that German soldiers have been participating in ten different missions, of which the ISAF mission is the most important one.

– Contribution of BiH to the ISAF peace mission is very important in the context of the country’s future NATO membership and its political stability. Keeping in mind all differences that exist between BiH and Afghanistan, I concluded there is one similarity – both countries need political progress badly, and in order to reach that, they need support from local population, Schmidt said.

General Enyeart spent two years in Afghanistan. Within the ISAF mission, he worked with German and British soldiers and trained Afghan soldiers, which he believes to be one of key security elements.

– A lot of people do not understand what soldiers who come back from such missions bring home with them. First, they bring training they have been through there, and then cooperation with coalition forces. A mission in which they spend six months strengthens their relationships and armed forces in general. The Armed Forces of BiH represent a positive point and a light in this country. They are the ones functioning when nothing else functions and when there is no government, Commander of NATO HQ in Sarajevo said.

Help provider

Peace Support Operations Training Center, as commander Dautović explains, was established eight years ago as an international project implemented by 17 countries. The idea was to establish a channel for capacity building and training the Armed Forces of BiH in contributing to international peace and security. This is today one of 25 training centers within the NATO family and is of regional importance.

Our six instructors have already been in the ISAF mission. This way, we bring actual experience and values this mission offers, he said, emphasizing that the Center does not serve the Armed Forces of BiH only, but wider community as well, which yesterday’s conference confirms.

Dautović has emphasized the importance of the fact that BiH is increasingly assuming the role of help provider and is no longer merely international help receiver.

Dl. OMERAGIĆ (Daily paper «Oslobođenje» 23 March 2011)

Photo: AI, PSOTC, NATO HQ Sarajevo