My fellow soldiers,
Let me express my heartily and warm welcome to all distinguished guests giving KFOR the honour. Your participation is a sign of recognition on KFORs role and performance during the last year. Thank you for being here.
When I look back over the recent years, Kosovo has run through many changes. Huge developments and progress were made during the past 14 years. It is a tremendous story of success and all the time KFOR was standing aside Kosovo's people, always as strong supporters, promoting the progress as a professional military force.
I would describe the tactical situation in the first half of 2012 with the roadblock removal operation as "Facing the Barricades". During the last year, the situation has changed. I would say KFOR has moved from "Facing the Barricades" to "Promoting Progress".
Promoting progress fully shows the dynamics and the wind of change in terms of stabilisation and normalisation. To provide the right approach, KFOR developed the "KFOR Security Outreach North" concept, based on KFORs mandate and mission to contribute to a Safe and Secure Environment and Freedom of Movement. With its security dialogue, a new chapter of trust building has been opened at the tactical level.
After one year in command, it is far beyond me to be called a Balkan or Kosovo expert, but by carrying out this mission I had the privilege to improve my knowledge meeting such fascinating people from all societies, institutions and several cultural groups.
I experienced many varieties of culture, tradition and the future oriented mind-sets of the people of Kosovo. I was able to see for myself the strong values and hopes of a safe and secure environment to raise families in. I saw this among all the people of Kosovo regardless of which society they belong or live in. I also had the privilege of being invited to learn of your distinct and diverse heritage and last but not least, I'm deeply impressed on the natural beauty and the diversity of the countryside which demands for all of us to protect and preserve Kosovo's environmental richness.
All challenges to be met needs the full comprehensive support by National and International Organisations working close together with KFOR during the years.
I would like to express my gratitude to EULEX, since the relationship with KFOR has developed constantly during the last year and who has worked side by side to improve the security situation throughout Kosovo.
I am grateful to Institutions in Kosovo and I would like to emphasize organisations like KSF and KP who made great progress to enhance the stability and law and order within their country. I am also thankful for the cooperation with partners like the EU, UNMIK and OSCE who also have the goal of improving the political and social structure for a better Kosovo. Overall, I would like to thank all actors who cooperated with KFOR and contributed to peace and stability for Kosovo in the whole region.
Sir, Ladies and Gentlemen, what is a commander without his troops? I would like to quote the famous U.S. WWII General, Douglas McArthur who said, "A general is just as good or just as bad as the troop under his command make him". This everlasting truth fits as well to the soldiers of KFOR I was honoured to command. I want to express my gratitude and appreciation for the exceptional manner in which you performed your duties and supported me as your commander over the past year. My dear soldiers, everybody in the KFOR team has contributed to our mission and has, wherever posted, his individual portion of KFOR's success.
Our motto was "Forward Together" which described the joint effort to contribute to progress towards a peaceful and prosperous Kosovo future. This was not achieved individually or by a single organisation. It was a common task and required a combined effort by all. I am proud to have led such a capable multi-national force and believe me, it is with a heavy heart that I say farewell to this mission, these Soldiers and to Kosovo.
General Farina, as my time as the KFOR Commander ends, you are about to command this highly motivated and talented multi-national KFOR organisation. I am confident that these soldiers will now give you the same outstanding support that they have given me throughout the year. I wish you good luck and all the best.
My fellow soldiers, to those of you who will continue the work here in Kosovo I leave my fondest wish of success. I am proud to have been your commander and wish you the best in your future. Until we meet again, good luck and farewell.