Peacekeeping: January 3, 2003


Rest easy, troubled world - there's a new group of powdered blue berets on patrol. The European Union took command of the international police force in Bosnia-Herzegovina on 1 January 2003, marking the first security operation for the 15-nation bloc. The EU police mission (EUPM) will oversee a cadre of 512 policemen overseeing the training of a professional and multiethnic civilian police force for Bosnia. The force is comprised of 422 officers from EU member states, as well as 90 more from other countries (including Russia and Canada). The EUPM's mandate will operate until 2005. 

The EUPM will work alongside the Nato-led Stabilization Force (SFOR), which has about 15,000 troops stationed in Bosnia. UN peacekeepers were deployed in Bosnia from the beginning of the country's 1992-95 war. When the war ended, the UN mandate changed to overhauling the police. The United Nations' police presence in Bosnia officially ended at midnight 31 December 2002. 

The next twelve months could be a trying time for the EU. In February, the EU is expected to send the first units of its 60,000-man rapid reaction force into Macedonia as peacekeepers. The hitch is that Greece assumes the rotating leadership role of the EU in 2003 for six months and Macedonia is a post-Yugoslav state created despite fierce opposition from Greece. There's not a lot of love going around that region, particularly with Al Qaeda's friends active throughout Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania.

The EU has made other noble but false starts at joint operations before. In mid-December 2001, all 15 EU member states pledged to contribute between 3,000 and 4,000 soldiers to a multinational peacekeeping force for Afghanistan. However, this was not an exclusive EU show. In early 2000, the EU had 'studied' sending troops to Middle East area for the first time in Europe's history to observe implementing any probable Syrian - Israeli peace agreement. - Adam Geibel 




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