Two Nations, One Mission

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Capt. Russell Craig
First published in
SFOR Informer#138, May 9, 2002

Turkish and Finnish Civil-Military Co-operation (CIMIC) teams conducted joint patrols, as part of a four day exchange programme, to aid the return process of Displaced Persons and Refugees (DPREs) April 11.

Zenica - From the grim industrial background of the Zenica Steel Factory, Turkish and Finnish CIMIC teams emerged. Throughout the rest of the day the two groups toured the Turkish area of responsibility, not only conducting routine patrols, but also aiding future return processes.
"We have Displaced Persons (DPs) in each other's AOR (Finnish and Turkish), therefore, we have to co-ordinate with each other, and have our CIMIC teams work together," said Turkish Maj. Mehmet Ali Altas S-5 Turkish Battalion (TU BN).
Altas also explained that one of the key successes of the event, was when the Finnish CIMIC officers talked with local people in Vares, and learned that there were no security problems for returnees there. This would allow the Finns to reassure the DPs in their AOR, who wish to return to the town, that it is safe to do so. The reverse was also true.
"We can talk to DPs (in the Turkish AOR) about the rumours concerning Bratunac (Finnish CIMIC AOR), and tell them, there are no security problems, that I was there last week," said Finnish Lt. Kari Jokinen.
Both CIMIC groups enjoyed working with each other, which will aid future returns.
"It is very good to co-operate with people, we understand each other better now, we know who we are talking to on the phone, which makes it easier to do our jobs; the return process crosses all boundaries," said Turkish Capt. Yayuz Leblebici, patrol team leader.
Both groups also discussed techniques, as the Finns witnessed the Turkish teams' achievements. In Ocevlja village, Leblebici talked about the process by which the Turkish CIMIC had co-ordinated efforts to build a large and modern school there.
School is important, anywhere, anytime
Although the school only has five pupils, it is necessary so that DPs can be attracted back to the area. The Turks have also rebuilt the school in Ligatici, this, however has 34 pupils, and is an example of co-operation between organisations. Leblebici explained that the Turkish Battle Group had donated 1,500 KM (750€) to help complete the school, and was going to donate 11,000 more (5,500€), to ensure that the Vares municipality (the original donors) was able to complete the work. For the Turks, this is a worthwhile venture.
"Because school is important, anywhere, anytime. We saw the bad conditions in this building, realised that (the building) was a good place for classes, so we agreed to donate money here. (By doing so) students could return, and we would be happy," said Leblebici.
As well as CIMIC techniques, both groups learned more about each other's culture.
"We took them (the Finns) to a mosque for the first time in their lives," said Leblebici.
"It was a great experience, I really enjoyed seeing more beautiful places in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and learning about Turkey," said Finnish Lt. Tomi Jormanainen.
"The CIMIC in this area (TU AOR) is very good, and we will take (their) methods back to our areas," said Finnish Lt. Harki Kordisaari.

Related links: CIMIC
Nations of SFOR: Finland, Turkey

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Photo: PO Susan Rose

Turkish and Finnish CIMIC officers talk with the family of a local village representative.

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Turkish Capt. Yayuz Leblebici, Patrol Team Leader, chats to a local workman about the school in Ligatici.

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Turks and Finns share an interest in Vares; both have returnees or DPs connected to the town.