Pristina, October 10, 2023 – This morning, in the presence of a large crowd of political and military authorities from NATO, from the contributing nations and from the Institution in Kosovo, the Italian Major General Angelo Michele RISTUCCIA handed over the post of KFOR Commander to the Turkish Major General Özkan ULUTAŞ, during a ceremony held at the Headquarters of the NATO-led KFOR mission in Pristina.
Major General Özkan ULUTAŞ takes over the command of the mission for a year mandate, as KFOR’s 28th Commander.
I only have to express my gratitude to those who had the confidence to assign me to the task of leading KFOR, and supported me throughout this challenging endeavor that saw us preserve the conditions for ensuring peace and stability for all citizens living in Kosovo
The Commander of the Allied Joint Force Command Naples, Admiral Stuart B. MUNSCH expressed his appreciation to the outgoing KFOR Commander, Major General RISTUCCIA for leaving an indelible impact on his essential mission. He also welcomed the new KFOR Commander, Major General Özkan ULUTAŞ, adding that his broad experience will add value to this mission.
During his speech General RISTUCCIA, 13th Italian Commander of the KFOR out of the 28 from the beginning of the mission, expressed his thanks to all his staff and KFOR members who supported him in carrying out his duties with the utmost dedication, commitment, professionalism, empathy, and impartiality.
“I only have to express my gratitude to those who had the confidence to assign me to the task of leading KFOR, and supported me throughout this challenging endeavor that saw us preserve the conditions for ensuring peace and stability for all citizens living in Kosovo.
I have to thank the Alliance and the contributing countries for the effort expended in providing me with the capabilities and means to fulfill this task. I thank my political and military chain of command, both at NATO and national levels, for never lacking the appropriate guidance and, above all, support. I never felt alone.
And he added:
I want to emphasize a concept, which for me, is fundamental and unquestionable: KFOR works to maintain a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all people in Kosovo impartially and in line with its UN mandate.
It has been and continues to be a complex mission marked by countless challenges, which we have endeavored to turn into opportunities to ensure peace and stability, but above all, to preserve a better future for generations to come.
Major General ULUTAŞ pointed out: “Being aware of the responsibility placed on my shoulders in the sensitive period that Kosovo is going through, I am taking over the command with the determination to put forth all my efforts and experience to ensure that this distinguished unit serves successfully in the future as it has done in the past”.
Major General ULUTAŞ also underlined that “This unit, which has been entrusted to my command, will continue to fulfill its mission with the complete impartiality and professionalism required by international responsibility, in accordance with the founding objectives and values of NATO and the United Nations, on which its mandate is based”.
He thanked to all the Commanders and former members of KFOR for their contribution. He said, “I would like to express my sincere thanks to all Commanders and former members of KFOR who have contributed to the creation and sustainment of the current strength and stance of KFOR over the past twenty-four years. I also would like to express my sincere thanks to Major General Angelo Michele RISTUCCIA who has successfully commanded the unit for the past year. He has completed his mission with great dedication, determination and professionalism. I thank him for his efforts and contributions, and I wish him continued success”.
The new KFOR Commander, the first from Türkiye, has had a long and successful career both at home and abroad. His last post was that of Head of Strategy Department in the HQ of Turkish General Staff.
KFOR remains fully focused on the implementation of its mandate – based on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 of 1999 - to ensure a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all communities in Kosovo.