Green light given to Bosnia force

Swiss military vehicles in Bosnia will bear the Eufor marking Keystone

Parliament has given the go-ahead for Swiss soldiers to take part in the new European peacekeeping force for Bosnia-Herzegovina.

This content was published on December 1, 2004 minutes

Up to 20 Swiss officers will join the 7,000-strong Eufor mission, which replaced a Nato-led force at the beginning of this month.

The House of Representatives on Thursday followed the Senate in approving Swiss participation.

Parliamentary approval was necessary since the deployment involves armed troops and will last longer than three weeks.

The defence minister, Samuel Schmid, came in for criticism in parliament for the stationing of ten officers in Bosnia a month ago, ahead of parliament’s decision and before Eufor had received a mandate from the United Nations Security Council.

Schmid defended his decision, saying it was in keeping with an agreement reached by the UN on the phasing in of the new force.

He added that the Swiss officers were only sent to prepare for the deployment.

The peacekeeping mission is seen as a major test of the EU’s drive to develop a military arm, following its failure to halt the ethnic fighting that ravaged Bosnia in the early 1990s.

European Union

Eufor is made up of troops from the European Union and 11 other countries, including Switzerland.

It is the EU’s biggest military operation to date.

EU officials said Brussels hoped to complete its peacekeeping mission in Bosnia within three years.

They also expressed confidence that senior war-crimes suspects, including the fugitive Bosnian Serb leaders, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, would be detained by European forces.

The peacekeeping mission is seen as a major test of the EU’s drive to develop a military arm, following its failure to halt the ethnic fighting that ravaged Bosnia in the early 1990s.


The rightwing Swiss People’s Party has criticised the presence of Swiss troops in the European mission, describing it as pointless.

However, the Swiss government has said sending troops to Bosnia to help stabilise the country following the 1995 Dayton peace agreement was in Switzerland’s own interest.

Switzerland currently designates Bosnia as a “safe country” for returning rejected asylum seekers.

Swiss diplomats say the peacekeeping mission is also necessary to combat organised crime in the region and to bring to justice suspected war criminals.

Switzerland stationed 11 officers in Bosnia as part of the Nato’s peacekeeping force between 1996 and 2000.

It is the first time that Swiss troops will serve under the command of an EU force. They will work in liaison and observation teams at hot spots across Bosnia.

The mission will cost the Swiss government SFr5.4 million ($4.7 million) a year.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Switzerland deploys up to 20 soldiers and officers to the European force in Bosnia.
Up to 220 Swiss armed volunteers are stationed in the UN-administered Serbian province of Kosovo.
Swiss staff officers and military observers have also been deployed in the Middle East, Georgia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Afghanistan.

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