Today, the Council of the European Union adopted an assistance measure worth €10 million that will support the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina (AFBiH). This decision is part of the EU’s work to further strengthen its security engagement with its Western Balkan partners and builds on previous EU support for the AFBiH, notably through a previous assistance measure announced in November 2021 worth €10 million for the demining battalion of the AFBiH, an assistance measure worth €6 million announced in June 2022 for the benefit of the Balkan Medical Task Force (BMTF) and the continuous support for EUFOR Althea for the BiH Armed forces, including through training.
“On BiH Armed Forces Day, the European Union has responded to a request from our BiH partners, and announced a significant new package of support for the Armed Forces of BiH. The unified and multi-ethnic Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina are an excellent example of a joint, functional organisation in BiH and are one of the most trusted institutions in the country. EU support is important in strengthening the capacities of the Armed Forces of BiH as well as strengthening stability and security in BiH and the Western Balkans. I wish all those serving in the Armed Forces of BiH a happy armed forces day!” said the Head of the EU Delegation/EU Special Representative to BiH, Ambassador Johann Sattler.
The new assistance measure will finance field equipment, key tools for military engineering and material to protect against Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) threats. This assistance was requested by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina in June 2022. Through the provision of appropriate equipment, the assistance measure will strengthen the capacities of the tactical support brigade and the AFBiH as a whole.
Moreover, the new assistance measure will allow the swift and sustainable deployment of the NATO designated battalion, whether as part of an EU CSDP mission or operation or under formats such as the United Nations, NATO, the OSCE, and ultimately contribute to the protection of the civilian population.
The new assistance measure was adopted under the European Peace Facility (EPF). The EPF was established in March 2021 as a tool to expand the EU’s ability to provide security for its citizens and its partners. It enables the EU to provide all types of equipment and infrastructure to the armed forces of EU partners, in compliance with international human rights law and international humanitarian law. The new assistance measure was adopted in response to a request made by the BiH Ministry of Foreign Affairs in June 2022.
Assistance Measure for the demining battalion of the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina
On 4 November 2021, the Council agreed on a capacity building Assistance Measure for the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was the first Assistance Measure for the Armed Forces of a partner country agreed under the European Peace Facility. The Assistance Measure is worth €10 million.
As the presence of mines and unexploded ordnance continues to pose a major problem to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s security, constitutes a direct threat to the population and severely hampers post-conflict rehabilitation, the Assistance Measure focuses on supporting demining efforts.
The Assistance Measure enhances and upgrades the capabilities of the Demining Battalion of the AFBiH through the provision of adequate equipment. This contributes to enabling Bosnia and Herzegovina to protect its civilian population better.
The first delivery of equipment was handed over to the Minister of Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina Sifet Podžić on 5 July 2022 by the 27 Ambassadors of the Political and Security Committee (PSC), led by the PSC Chair EU Delphine Pronk. The first delivery comprised of 150 metal detectors.
It is also foreseen that under this Assistance Measure 34 transport vehicles and 34 medical vehicles will also be procured for the Armed Forces of BiH. The delivery of these vehicles will take place in 2023.
Assistance Measure assistance measure in support of the Balkan Medical Task Force
The Balkan Medical Task Force (BMTF) was set up as a regional initiative bringing together six participating countries, namely Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia, with the aim of providing a quick and effective response to disaster-struck countries or regions by using already existing military medical capacities of participating nations.
In June 2022, the Council adopted an assistance measure under the European Peace Facility (EPF) worth €6 million for the benefit of the Balkan Medical Task Force (BMTF).
The assistance measure will support the capacity building of the BMTF by procuring the necessary equipment and materiel for the medical units of the Armed Forces of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia, participating in the BMTF. In this context, the objective of the measure is to strengthen military medical capabilities of the region and civilian relief efforts, and ultimately contribute to regional cooperation and cohesion.
In order to achieve its objective, the assistance measure will finance: mobility assets, components for field hospitals at ‘role 2’ standards, laboratory equipment and supplies, and IT and communication equipment.
The assistance was requested on behalf of the BMTF by the Republic of North Macedonia in April 2022.