Hungary’s Kajári Takes Command of NATO’s Kosovo Peacekeeping Mission


Ferenc Kajári, a major general of the Hungarian armed forces, took over the command of NATO’s KFOR peacekeeping mission in Kosovo on Friday.


Kajári, the first Hungarian to serve as a KFOR commander overseeing troops from 20 NATO and 8 partner countries, will fulfil his duties from November 1 over a period of 12 months. Addressing a formal ceremony in Pristina, Kajári called it a great honour to serve in the post and expressed his commitment towards continuing the work of Franco Federici, his predecessor. He said KFOR was the largest force in the region that was prepared to and capable of intervening in the interest of resolving security concerns, adding that his task as KFOR chief will be working towards resolving any conflicts in the region peacefully. Kajári served on international missions before, first in IFOR in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1996 and later as a European Union adviser to the African Union’s mission to Sudan. He worked later in northern Afghanistan as chief of reconnaissance.

Speaking during a visit to the KFOR mission, Hungarian Defence Minister Tibor Benkő said Hungary was “not only talking about but also acting for peace and security in the Western Balkans”. The minister said he was proud that for the first time, a Hungarian general had become commander of KFOR. Recent incidents in Kosovo and along the Kosovo-Serbia border suggest that the Hungarian general and his soldiers will face a tough job upon maintaining security in the “vulnerable and fragile” Western Balkans, Benkő said.

The minister said that he had held talks with his Italian counterpart on bilateral military cooperation, current challenges, including the situation in Kosovo, and future tasks, with special reference to what NATO specified as the southern threat, connected with the stability of the Western Balkans. Benkő presented a shipment of 500 doses of vaccines donated to Afghans evacuated from their homeland and temporarily accommodated in Kosovo.

Romulusz Ruszin-Szendi, commander in chief of the Hungarian military, called Kajári’s appointment a great honour. He noted that Hungary had taken part in the KFOR mission since the very beginning. From now on, a stand-by battalion of hundreds of soldiers stationed in Hungary can be deployed in Kosovo within a few days, Ruszin-Szendi said.

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