The changeover ceremony in command of the Regional Command – West (RC-W) of the NATO – KFOR mission took place today in Kosovo, at Camp Villaggio Italia, between the 11th Bersaglieri Regiment of the “Ariete” Brigade returning to the homeland and the 1st Bersaglieri Regiment of the “Garibaldi” Brigade. Numerous civil and military authorities were present at the ceremony, including the Commander of the Joint Forces Summit Operational Command (COVI) Army Corps General Francesco Paolo Figliuolo, the Commander of KFOR Major General Özkan Ulutaş, the Deputy Commander of KFOR General of Federico Bernacca Brigade, the Italian Ambassador to Kosovo, Antonello De Riu.
The symbolic passing of the NATO flag between Colonel Gabriele Vacca, the transferor, and the peer Francesco Ferrara sanctioned the change at the helm of the RC-W, a multinational unit composed mainly of Italian soldiers.
General Figliuolo, in bringing to the national contingent the greetings of the Minister of Defense Guido Crosetto and the Chief of Defense Staff Admiral Giuseppe Cavo Dragone, expressed words of appreciation for the results achieved during a mission which was conducted in a complex reality such as the Balkan one, particularly known to General Figliuolo, who was Commander of the NATO forces in Kosovo between 2014 and 2015.
“In these six months of mission you have demonstrated courage, tenacity and a sense of humanity. You have been a bulwark in defense of the values of freedom and respect for human rights. You have been appreciated for your continuous and constructive dialogue with representatives of public life of this country, which is still crossed by inter-ethnic tensions that have never completely subsided”, said General Figliuolo. Then, addressing the incoming contingent, he added: “Justice, respect for the rule of law and the dignity of people, of any ethnicity or religion they may be. These must be the values that must inspire your daily actions in the next six months. You Bersaglieri of Cosenza are the heirs of that 18th Regiment which in 1999, together with other departments of the Italian Army, entered in this country, to put an end to the atrocities committed during the war. Good luck!”
The semester that has just ended saw the approximately 1,400 Italian soldiers present in Kosovo engaged in multiple operational, training, liaison activities with local institutions and civil-military cooperation in support of the institutions and the population.
Many patrolling activities were carried out in the entire area of operation, in particular in the administrative border area between Kosovo and Serbia; numerous exercises were also conducted, including the Western Rumble and the Golden Saber, which took place in the autumn, as well as continuous training aimed at maintaining high standards of operational readiness.
Added to these are the frequent civil-military cooperation projects, with donations of health, educational and technological materials to hospitals, schools, non-governmental associations and local institutions, conducted both with Italian funds and with those provided by the KFOR mission, aimed at implementing the level of efficiency of the services made available to the population.
Furthermore, the frequent meetings with the Mayors of the 15 municipalities of western Kosovo and with other representatives of the local political, civil and religious institutions were of absolute importance, as part of joint discussion tables on the themes of cooperation and the future of young people. .
General Figliuolo’s visit to the military units deployed in the Western Balkans is part of the coordination and direction action that the Joint Forces Operational Command (COVI) exercises on the activities carried out by the contingents of the Italian Armed Forces deployed abroad.