Updated: 06-Dec-2004 NATO Speeches


2 Dec. 2004


by Javier Solana, EU High Representative at the SFOR transfer of authority ceremony

Members of the presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina, excellencies, generals, ladies and gentlemen, nine years ago, almost to the day, IFOR deployed its first contingency to Bosnia-Herzegovina in order to implement the Dayton Agreement. A day very difficult to forget for the citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina. A day very difficult to forget for me.

But all that is history. Today we gather here to look to the future. But without forgetting the lessons of the past. A future for Bosnia-Herzegovina that is in Europe in its values and its progress, in its stability, in its prosperity.

After the successful NATO operation, the deployment of a European force today signifies once again the commitment of Europe to these goals.

The last ten years has seen achievements on all fronts in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Thanks to the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Thanks to the many soldiers from NATO nations and partner countries under IFOR and under SFOR, who created the security conditions for the progress to take place. Thanks also to many international civilian people dedicated to this country.

Today the European Union assumes a new responsibility here in your country, in a responsibility that will be done with the same spirit, in the same efficiency than his predecessor from NATO.

The European force will mesh with the European Union's substantial engagement in so many areas. A formidable economic commitment. A police mission deployed. A solid political relationship.

All this is part of a journey to the only possible destination, the European institutions. It will not be without effort, and you know it. But it will become true.

With the deployment of troops from more than 30 countries you will continue to feel the solidarity of so many towards you.

And this should be a stimulus for your serious response. We expect from the leaders of the country a dedicated commitment to strengthen your institutions, your democracy, your economy in a responsible manner.

The people of Bosnia do not deserve less. In each of these challenges that we have had you always will find the support of the European Union and the support of NATO.

My friends, today, using the most expressive military term that has been so many times used in this headquarters, let me tell you very frankly, the mission continues until it will be achieved. Thank you very much.

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