With a joint field exercise held today in Banja Luka, in which over 200 members of civil protection agencies from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia took part, the end of a two-year project supported by the European Union to build capacities and prepare BiH for membership of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism was marked. Members of civil protection agencies demonstrated their knowledge gained and showcased the strength of joint work during natural disasters. The exercise was attended by Stefano Ellero, Head of Cooperation of the Delegation of the European Union in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Selmo Cikotić, Minister of Security of BiH, Damir Trut, Director of the Civil Protection of the Ministry of Interior of Croatia, Milan Novitović, Director of the Civil Protection of the RS, Enes Memić, Director of FBiH Civil Protection and Bogdan Bratić, Head of Department for Public Security of the Brčko District.
“Disasters know no borders and can hit any country without warning, but our strength lies in a coordinated response. Today we attested to great results and the professionalism of all partners involved in the project. The European Union has contributed 2.5 million euros to improvement of BiH civil protection mechanisms by providing necessary equipment, training and a coordination system. Our goal is to prepare Bosnia and Herzegovina to join the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, which will enhance the cooperation and interoperability of local civil protection mechanisms with all of Europe,” said Ellero.
Over 200 members of civil protection agencies in BiH have been certified for the EU Civil Protection Mechanism through the project ‘EU for Better Civil Protection’, which will enable more efficient work and cooperation in local communities and at the state level, while also enabling participation in international rescue missions.
Selmo Cikotić, Minister of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina congratulated all the participants of the joint field exercise for the effort and cooperation shown. “An added value of such activity is the cooperation, exchange of experience, knowledge and ideas. The synergy and process of continuous learning and improvement is of the utmost use. Natural disasters know no borders and today’s activity demonstrated a milestone for Bosnia and Herzegovina, showing that it can be a competent actor of the European family for protection and rescue and we hope to receive positive results about membership of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism,” said Minister Cikotić.
“Today’s joint exercise marks the finalisation of a two-year project, through which we trained the civil protection forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina to be able to participate in activities with other EU forces and to work better and more efficiency in missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in other areas where assistance is required,” said Damir Trut, Head of the Civil Protection of the Ministry of Interior of Croatia.
Within the project ‘EU for Better Civil Protection’, the European Union has supported the strengthening of civil protection institutions to be better prepared to react in cases of natural and other disasters and provide better protection to the citizens. A significant amount of specialised search and rescue equipment (field vehicles, trucks, trailers, vans, rescue equipment and tools, gyrocopters) has been procured within the project as has specialised training in line with the European practices.
The projects was jointly implemented by the Office for Civil Protection of the Ministry of Interior of Croatia and the Association for Risk Management (AZUR) from Bosnia and Herzegovina.