On 8th February 2014, COMKFOR, Major General Salvatore FARINA, presided over the farewell ceremony in Camp Latre de Tassigny in NOVO SELO, to mark the start of the reduction of the French contingent within KFOR.
Many distinguished visitors were present at the ceremony including HE Maryse Daviet, French ambassador in Kosovo, Jean-Claude Schlumberger, chief of the OSCE mission and Rear Admiral Jean Baptiste Dupuis, representative of the French Chief of Defence.
During the ceremony COM KFOR awarded 10 French soldiers, including Major Salado, commander of the French company with the KFOR NATO "non-article five” Peace Mission Medal and praised their high professionalism.
France has been part of KFOR, since the very beginning of the mission in 1999, and has made significant contributions to the operation.
French soldiers professionally served in Kosovo during 15 years of presence in this theatre of operation to ensure a safe and secure environment to the population of all ethnic and religious groups, giving an outstanding contribution to KFOR mission and exceptional example of ability to work in a multinational force and joint environment.
The French contingent is composed of 320 soldiers, among them 130 belonging to Multinational Battle group East, operating mainly in the Northern part of Kosovo : the French company has been mainly deployed in the North at Camp DOG 31 and Camp Cabra. From there, soldiers conducted patrols, to provide Safe and secure environment for local communities and freedom of movement.
Another main French contribution to KFOR is the leading of the Joint Logistical Support Group (JLSG) that ensures logistics support to KFOR forces.
The reduction of French forces in KFOR will be progressive and is scheduled to be completed in June 2014. The French units withdrawal will not impact KFOR mission as other maneuver units are due to be deployed in Kosovo by mid-2014 .
French Staff officers will continue to be part of KFOR HQ in Film City in Pristina.
During his speech Maj. Gen. FARINA pointed out:
France has been a pillar of KFOR from the beginning, deserving our respect and gratitude for the service and commitment rendered to the people of Kosovo. Over the last 15 years three France Generals served as KFOR Commander. In the same period France contributed more than 50000 soldiers to KFOR effort.
France will not leave KFOR for good. They will maintain their contribution to KFOR HQ with staff elements and will continue to support the process of normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina.
KFOR has developed a strong partnership with the various institutions in Kosovo, the international community and the different communities.
Considerable security and political progress has over the last years and we will continue to hand over security responsibilities to the local security structures and we assure that they are able to execute their mission.
French soldiers have been part of that success, by contributing to bring peace and stability to the Western Balkans by supporting and promoting dialog between communities and by working for a better future for all people in Kosovo.
I thank every one of you for your commitment and sacrifice to serve both your country and KFOR. You have truly emphasized the KFOR motto -MORE TOGETHER-.
You are our KFOR brothers and sisters and we wish you the best as you depart.