On the occasion of NATO’s dedication to KFOR and the completion of 23 years of presence in Kosovo, enikos.gr recalls the important contribution of Greece to the maintenance of peace.
NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR) continues to support the development of an inclusive, democratic and multi-ethnic Kosovo. Here are five things you should know about KFOR.
The Kosovo Force was mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 1244 of 1999 to deploy a neutral peacekeeping mission immediately following NATO’s intervention to end the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in and around Kosovo.
Today, KFOR consists of more than 3,700 military personnel provided by 27 Allied and partner countries on a voluntary basis.
KFOR’s main tasks are to ensure a safe and stable environment with freedom of movement for all communities in Kosovo.
Over time, as the security situation in the region has improved, NATO has gradually adjusted the posture of the KFOR force.
Any changes in KFOR’s force posture are situation-based and not calendar-based.
In carrying out its duties, KFOR acts as a third correspondent, after the Kosovo Police and the European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX). Coordination with these two entities is solid and very well established.
Following a decision by the KYSEA on 11 June 1999, Greece participated with a Brigade-level Force, named Hellenic Kosovo Force (ELDYKO).
In addition, a C-130 transport aircraft with a staff of 10 people, a staff of 30 officers and enlisted men to man the allied Headquarters and Command Staffs as well as personnel within Greece (157 officers and enlisted men) to provide Host Nation support had been allocated.
The Force was supplemented by an Infantry Company with Engineer elements consisting of 60 officers and men and by a Support Section and an Installations Section with a total strength of 10, based in Communication Zone South in Thessaloniki.
Its mission is to create a safe environment for the people of Kosovo and the safe return of refugees and displaced persons.
The Brigade was established in camps in the areas of Kosovo Polije (Camp “ALEXANDROS THE GREAT”), UROSEVATS (Camp “RIGAS FERAIOS”) and MITROVITSAS. (“TOBACCO FACTORY” camp).
The above Camps were created entirely and in a very short time by the Greek military – mainly by the men who belonged to the 34th Engineer Battalion. ELDYKO carried out hundreds of Recognition, Escort, Security and Traffic Control missions. He manned 7 check points and undertook the organization and direction of traffic control missions on the road connecting Macedonia with PRISTINA and at the Kosovo-Macedonia border station.
In addition, the Greek military guards day and night, 2 collection points of weapons delivered by the UCK and at the same time, they prepared the transfer and destruction of the specific armament. A very important moment of the Greek section is the discovery of a warehouse with large quantities of weapons and ammunition.
The mission was recognized by KFOR as the second most important and successful mission that had been carried out in KOSOVO until then. ELDYKO has destroyed more than 4000 weapons of various types and calibers that were previously seized by KFOR from hideouts of paramilitary organizations or criminal elements. The destruction of the weapons was done by Greek soldiers in the furnace of a metallurgical factory.
ELDYKO provides 24-hour protection to Christian Churches in its Area of Responsibility. The case of the Greek patrol’s immediate action to save the Church of Agios Ouros in the center of UROSEVATS, which was in danger of arson, is typical. All the holy relics were rescued and handed over for safekeeping to the Holy Monastery of GRATSANITSA.
ELDYKO’s contribution to the transport, escort and distribution of humanitarian aid is important, as in the case of the 160 tons of humanitarian aid, from the “FOCUS” organization, which was distributed to various villages of KOSSIFOPEDI.
ELDYKO’s contribution to the local community also extends to the field of medical care. Medical staff have examined over 2000 people in UROSEVATS and KOSOVO CITY.
With Circular Order No. 152 of 2001 of the Ministry of Defense, the Military Cross 1st Class was awarded to the Flags of the 34th M/K TAX, 501 M/K TP and 507 M/K TP. On September 30, 2003 the Commander of KFOR awarded a Special Honorary Distinction to the 507th M/K TP. In addition, the execution of a large number of missions with zero accidents demonstrate the high level of training and professionalism that distinguishes ELDYKO.
As of January 31, 2010 in ”Gate1” (of Deterrent Presence), Greece participates with the following Forces:
The Hellenic Tactical Command (ETD) and National Support Element (NSE).
2 M/N IT in the Northern Sector (MNBG North) and Eastern sector (MNBG East).
4 Liaison Monitoring Teams (LMTs) 2 each in the Northern and Eastern Sectors.
12 Staff at KFOR HQ and NIC and six (6) at MNBG North HQ.
1 General Transport Company (LGM) for the transport of NATO Reserves Kosovo (held in readiness based in Thessaloniki) as well as the Port Support section, under the already existing COMMZ-SOUTH based in Thessaloniki for DM support.
1 A/F, with availability of 2 flights per month for the benefit of NATO, on the route Elefsina-Naples-Sarajevo-Pristina.
The “Rigas Feraios” Camp is also home to the Armenian personnel who participate in KFOR under the Greek Forces and which as of December 11, 2009 was reduced to a total of 35 people.
ELDYKO’s presence signals Greece’s contribution to peacekeeping, promotes the Hellenic Armed Forces in the area of operations and supports Greek Diplomacy with its presence. It also promotes the level of operational training and cooperation with the Armed Forces of NATO and PfP member countries participating in the multinational force.
As pointed out in a related tribute by GEETHA, in a period of more general global fluidity, where Greece is fighting a multi-level continuous struggle in national and international issues, the Hellenic Armed Forces are a factor of security, power, prosperity and a pillar of stability.