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Hungary increases its military presence in Bosnia, EUFOR gets a Hungarian commander

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EUFOR military presence in Bosnia
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The news published in the Austrian daily newspaper Der Standard, stating that after January 1, 2024, a Hungarian general will take over the leadership of the EUFOR Althea mission in Sarajevo, has received a mixed response in the Bosnian media. In addition to greater military-diplomatic influence, the Hungarian army will also have to deploy a larger amount of combat equipment, and as a first step, the Butmir troops were reinforced with BTR-80 armored personnel carriers.

Enhanced Bosnian presence

The Slobodna Bosna news portal was the first to publish an illustrated article about the recent strengthening of the Hungarian Armed Forces’ presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

While precise details about troop movements are lacking, a Hungarian BTR-80 armored personnel carrier arriving on one of the transport vehicles was captured by cameras at the Svilaj border crossing point connecting Bosnia and Herzegovina with Croatia.

The larger-scale involvement of the Hungarian military in the Western Balkans will not only be seen in the presence of combat equipment abroad.

According to the Austrian Der Standard, their unnamed Austrian government sources indicated in late July that as of January 1, 2024, General László Sticz will replace Austrian General Helmut Habermayer as the head of the EUFOR mission.

Based on the article in the Austrian newspaper, the Hungarian Ministry of Defense has reached a kind of barter agreement with EUFOR. As part of this agreement, a Hungarian military officer will assume the mission’s command position for the next period, in exchange for which the Hungarian side will commit to participating in mission tasks with four military helicopters in Bosnia and Herzegovina for a minimum of three years.

The specific type of rotary-wing aircraft was not disclosed in the Austrian publication.

The positioning of the Hungarian side into a significant position from a military-diplomatic standpoint has caused considerable repercussions in the Western Balkans.

The right-wing conservative Bosnian press wrote about Hungary’s unjustified rise to prominence, and the BN television news portal, which regularly criticizes the political activities of Bosnian Serb President Milorad Dodik, who maintains close relations with the Hungarian government, also portrays Hungary’s growing role in EUFOR in a negative light.

Bečirović’s lobbying efforts in Austria

In addition to the change in the leadership of EUFOR, Der Standard’s article also discusses the fact that, in response to the deterioration of the internal political situation in Bosnia, Denis Bečirović, the Bosnian member of the Bosnian state presidency elected in the fall of 2022, indicated on several official channels that, in his opinion, an increase in EUFOR’s forces is justified.

Bečirović first tried to strengthen EUFOR during his official visit to the NATO headquarters in Brussels in January this year, and then two months later in Austria, which has consistently distanced itself from the military alliance, citing the deterioration of the security situation in Bosnia.


Denis Bećirović, the Bosnian member of the Bosnian state presidency, asked for more EUFOR soldiers because of the secessionist moves by pro-Kremlin Milorad Dodik, wrote Der Standard. In this regard, Bećirović noted that we are in the last hour to stop the spread of the Ukrainian crisis to the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina, that is, the southeastern part of Europe. (Source: Facebook, Dr. Denis Bećirović

During both meetings, Bečirović sought to emphasize the significance of his connections with Milorad Dodik’s ties to Russia and Serbia, illustrating the necessity of expanding the international military mission.

However, the Austrian government led by Karl Nehammer was not enthusiastic about the idea of ​​immersing itself more than at present in a military mission in the Western Balkans, especially considering that, despite the war in Ukraine, the issue of possible NATO accession still does not enjoy overwhelming support in Austria.

Following the Vienna meeting, the Bosnian presidency member tried to convince the current head of EUFOR, General Helmut Habermayer, in Sarajevo to reconsider his stance.

Bečirović saw it as appropriate to deploy an additional two companies, totaling 240 foreign troops, primarily Austrian, to the Brčko District, alongside the existing 1,150-strong contingent stationed in Sarajevo.

Although the detailed Austrian stance is not known, its essence was manifested in the rejection of troop reinforcements. Bečirović was informed that “while the Austrian government indeed observes the Western Balkan, and particularly Bosnia and Herzegovina’s events, the intention is not to redeploy additional troops to EUFOR.”

Lack of EU support

Throughout the Bosnian domestic political debates, Bečirović consistently raised the need for Western military assistance. In his discussions with the Austrian side, he frequently referred to the perceived threat posed by Putin and Russia, arguing that Moscow, in order to relieve the Russian forces unable to deploy on the military level in Ukraine, Moscow may burden the NATO member states with further proxy conflicts.

Bečirović’s concern is that Bosnia and Herzegovina could rapidly become a battlefield, leading to the country’s disintegration.

In addition to Moldova and Georgia, the Russians have the greatest chance in Bosnia-Herzegovina to carry out destabilizing measures using the Bosnian Serbs, which would force NATO to increase its presence in the Western Balkans.

Der Standard asked the Austrian Ministry of Defense about the possible escalation potential of the situation in Bosnia, from which the answer was received that “in the current security situation, there is no direct negative impact on the international military mission”, meaning that there is no need to worry so much, according to our “brother-in-law”.

Pierre Kugelweis, the head of the press department at the Austrian Ministry of Defense, added that “the increase in troop numbers is not considered necessary. While the overall security situation in Bosnia is stable and secure, it is undeniably fragile.”

Furthermore, the Austrian newspaper learned from an unnamed Austrian government source that it is currently unlikely for EU leaders to support the expansion of EUFOR.

USA wanted Italy at the helm of EUFOR

Reportedly, due to tensions between the Hungarian government and the United States, the US diplomatic administration had been lobbying the Italian government for an extended period to assume leadership of the Bosnian military mission.

However, for unknown reasons, the Italian armed forces appeared uninterested in taking on the diplomatically significant role.

The uninterrupted Austrian leadership at the helm of EUFOR since 2009 carried special importance, given Austria’s substantial attention to proportional communication with Bosnia and Herzegovina’s various ethnic groups, both within the government and military leadership.

Additionally, the Austrian diplomatic efforts and economic participation in Bosnia are generally well-regarded among the three constituent nations, making it easier to “sell” the Austrian military command to the Bosnian population with reservations about foreign forces.

It remains to be seen how a Hungarian-led contingent will be perceived socially following January 1, and to what extent this leadership change could become a tactical card in daily Bosnian politics.

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Vučić is less willing to ask KFOR for the northern areas. Elections on December 17?


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KFOR stúdió északi
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The Serbian President gave a tense interview to the Serbian state television (RTS) about the events in Banjska and other current issues. For example, Aleksandar Vučić criticized the channel for broadcasting drone footage of the events on Sunday, which had been posted on the internet by the Kosovar Minister of Interior. The provocative presidential behavior was not directed at a specific host but rather at the institution itself. The Serbian President had a similarly dismissive attitude toward another host in the past.

They had been preparing for the rebellion for a year

President Aleksandar Vučić, in an interview on RTS’s “Oko” program, stated that the Kosovo Serbs were mourning only their own dead, while Serbia commemorated all killed Serbs and the murdered Kosovar police officer on Wednesday. He explained that, according to the Serbian constitution, which regards Kosovo as part of Serbia, they are all Serbian citizens.

This was a strong start, as the photographs of the Kosovar Albanian police officers were not displayed at Serbian memorials, certainly not at the St. Sava Temple in Belgrade, and Serbian media did not communicate this to the audience.

KFOR északi

There were only three photos at the Church of St. Sava in Belgrade (Screenshot)

He also added that, for him, the killed Serbs would “never be terrorists” but rather family people.

The Serbian President denied the claim by Kosovo’s Minister of Interior that Aleksandar Vulin’s bodyguard, or someone who served as his bodyguard, died in the attack. In fact, the man allegedly served as a security officer for the current director of the Security Information Agency ten years ago.

Vučić also revealed that he has had information for a year that Kosovo (and Metohija) Serbs were preparing for resistance, as they had erected barricades more than a year ago.

– The situation is hot, call it whatever you want, the church, you or me. Kurti did it; he united the Serbs 

the Serbian President said. He also noted that the Kosovo Prime Minister had turned everyone against him, and as a result, they would all fight against him, even if they all perish, but they won’t “board the tractor,” meaning they won’t leave their homeland.

Vučić pointed out that Albin Kurti, the Kosovo Prime Minister, systematically targeted and destroyed the Serbian people because he hates them.

The Serbian president also spoke about the fact that Milan Radoičić, the vice-president of the Serbian List, who was accused of leading the group, never hid it and was not ashamed of his role, so he must be willing to be interrogated by the Serbian authorities, because he is in Central Serbia and thus available to the authorities. Vučić also revealed that Radoičić was not injured.

However, he said that one of the Serbian victims was shot in the head at point-blank range, which is known in Serbia as “overa” (control), and the Serbian president also used this term.

The relationship with KFOR is correct

The Serbian President also discussed the role of international organizations. He mentioned that EULEX was not allowed near the events because not only Kosovo people but also people from the Presevo Valley, known to the Serbian police, were present at the scene.

Regarding communication between the Serbian Army and the KFOR headquarters, Vučić said it was correct because Angelo Michele Ristuccia, the KFOR commander, is a serious person.

However, there appears to be a difference in opinion between the Serbian President and the Serbian Minister of Defense, Miloš Vučević. The latter stated that communication between Serbia and KFOR had been reduced to “elementary technical levels.”

Vučić responded to the demands of Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić and the mentioned Minister of Defense that KFOR take over security in the northern areas. He stated that he could not guarantee the feasibility of this and that Serbs would get along with KFOR because, at least, KFOR wouldn’t break into their homes.

For those with a slightly better memory, they will surely recall that the Serbian President wrote on Instagram just two days ago that he had asked the Quinta Ambassadorial Group to have KFOR take care of all security issues in Northern Kosovo instead of “Kurti’s police.”1

vucic kurti

Regarding this, the Serbian President presented another scenario and suggested attempting dialogue to compel Kurti to establish the Community of Serbian Municipalities (Zajednica Srpskih Opština, ZSO), which would place the police under Serbian control, and Serbian police officers would take charge of matters.

The Serbian President believes this is why Kurti does not want to fulfill this Serbian demand, even though the people are on the brink of rebellion.

Vučić may or may not fulfill it

The Serbian President appears to be planning to hold early elections not in March or February but as early as December 17 or possibly December 23, complying with opposition demands.

He plans to hold various local elections at that time, despite the opposition’s specific request to hold only the Belgrade elections alongside the early elections and not to include regional or local elections.

KFOR északi

Regarding some of the opposition’s election demands, the Serbian President stated that he fully accepted opposition proposals, but as the previous sentence suggests, this is not entirely true.

Vučić did not rule out that he would lead the Serbian Progressive Party’s list if asked, which, as previously noted here on BALK, is quite inappropriate given his position as the President of all Serbian citizens.

Aleksandar Vučić, the Serbian President, also reported that a new indictment has been filed against Vojislav Šešelj in The Hague. He emphasized that the indictment was filed against Šešelj and four others for contempt of court.

– Just to add to the pressure

Vučić said briefly.

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