GEN. HALBAUER'S FINAL PRESS CONFERENCE
ooking back my predecessor was facing violent action triggering a period of roadblocks that lasted almost a year. In October 2012 the EU mediated political dialog in order to 'normalize relations' constituted a strategic shift which led KFOR to a new and challenging phase of our mission.
I would describe the tactical situation in the first half of last year as "Facing the Barricades". Various gatherings, protests and demonstrations sometimes supported by blocked roads may describe the second half of last year and the passage into 2013. Having in mind the tense and sometimes volatile environment and KFOR's unchanged full commitment to mandate and mission, I would say KFOR has moved from "Facing the Barricades" to "Promoting Progress".
After this year I can say that KFOR's achieved some important goals:
• By acting impartial, principled, patient, vigilant and determined KFOR managed to maintain a SASE and FoM – a precondition among others for the IBM Agreement and its implementation.
• It was also the SASE and FoM re-established and maintained by KFOR which facilitated and contributed to the process of the Political Dialogue.
• KFOR achieved an improvement of co-operation with the EUROPEAN Rule of Law Mission "EULEX' and has been supporting the International Community within own means and capabilities in paving the way for fair and democratic elections.
• As a consequence I think people in the meantime got used to solve problems through Dialogue instead of violence.
Still there remain some challenges:
• The continuation of the Political Dialogue
• Further results in the Implementation Process
• Successful conduction of the Local Elections in November
• And hence an improvement in relations between all ethnical and political groups in the region.
Also, people in KOSOVO should develop trustful co-operation with the Institutions in KOSOVO. Especially, they should trust and support KOSOVO Police. Without the active support of the people no police can fulfill its tasks.
But above all, people have to learn to live with each other in everyday life, develop readiness to solve their problems amongst themselves and be patient with the dynamics of the process of change. And they can be optimistic because a lot has been achieved already and last but not least because KOSOVO is a region where it is worth to live.
At this point I would like to pay tribute to the courage of all the political leaders who dared and continued to go new ways for a solution to what had happened here for such a long time. Here I also want to mention above all the Prime Ministers Dacic and Thaci who showed and continue to show, patience and will to establish sustainable peace in the Western Balkans.
As a backup for the political process, staying impartial and providing a SASE and FoM, KFOR's mandate and mission will continue to be unchanged. This is why KFOR's force posture will basically not change and the number of troops will not decrease for the time being.
KFOR will maintain its capability and determination to face and respond to possible challenges for the benefit of all people in KOSOVO.
I personally have met a lot of great, capable and forward looking people all over KOSOVO and I wish them and their families and all Kosovars stability, peace and all the best for the future.
I also wish my successor, MG Farina, good luck with continuing this mission and extending KFOR's success story.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we need not to talk here about the importance of independent and fair media for a working democracy. I could experience that this is well understood and put in practice here. Therefore I also want to thank you, the journalists, editors and all people working for media for their support to me and I would like to ask you for the same cooperation with the new COMKFOR and KFOR in general.