Slovenians join patrols
DOBOJ, Bosnia and Herzegovina — Slovenian troops are now among the international peacekeepers helping patrol in Bosnia and Herzegovina, another former Yugoslav republic.
More than 80 Slovenian soldiers arrived Saturday to their new home — for the next six months — in Doboj, two hours west of Eagle Base.
Slovenian troops have been members of Multinational Specialized Unit, a riot control component of Stabilization Force, for years now. But their arrival to Doboj is the first time Slovenian troops have patrolling responsibilities.
During the welcome ceremony for Slovenian troops, Brig. Gen. John von Trott, commander of Multinational Brigade North, expressed his confidence in the soldiers, who will patrol Lukavac and Gracanica.
“Our mission is difficult and it demands highly trained troops. I have absolutely no doubts as to your abilities,” von Trott said. “And I know you are more than up to the task.”
Von Trott pointed out that the Slovenians have a great advantage over the other 11 nations operating in MNB North: the Slovenian language is similar enough to local languages to allow easy communication without interpreters.
While Slovenia, the northern-most former Yugoslav republic, has come a long way since the breakup of the country in the early 1990s, Bosnia is lagging in several areas:
• There are still three different armed forces left over from the war.
• The politics are ethnically dominated.
• Hundreds of thousands of people still live as refugees and displaced persons.
• Many homes lie destroyed and the country’s economy is weak.
“Slovenia … is not turning its back on her neighbors in the southeast,” said Tadej Labernick, the Slovenian ambassador to Bosnia, during the ceremony.
“She wants to help Bosnia and Herzegovina since only stable and successful Bosnia and Herzegovina can guarantee peace and progress of this part of Europe,” Labernick said.
Capt. Postjan Bas, commander of Slovenian troops in Doboj, pointed out that only 372 miles of air distance separate the two countries.
The peacekeeping tour in Bosnia is his second after a tour in Cyprus with the United Nations in the 1990s. Bas said he hopes to establish closeness with the population of the towns his troops will be patrolling.
“We know the culture, we know the mentality,” Bas said. “We will do the best we can.”