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The Turks… in the canteen. Failed coup disrupts EUFOR Althea's plans

Turkish soldiers in training (credit: EUFOR Althea)
Turkish soldiers in training (credit: EUFOR Althea)

(BRUSSELS2) The failed coup d'état in Turkey has somewhat destabilized the EU's… stabilization operation in Bosnia-Herzegovina (EUFOR Althea), managed jointly with NATO (1).

The operation includes, in fact, a significant Turkish contingent of the order of a company, or around a good quarter of the workforce (2). During the few hours of the coup d'état, the question of the availability of troops arose. 

We questioned EUFOR HQ who did not want to confirm the information but did not deny it either, preferring to stick to a formal message from the commander:

The Turkish Contingent in EUFOR are professional soldiers and carry out their regular duties under EUFOR Command. They continue to contribute along with another 20 Nations in BiH, all focused on Capacity Building and training and providing a Safe and Secure Environment.

According to our (other) information, EUFOR Commander (COMEUFOR) however, asked the Hungarians (around 200 soldiers) present in Sarajevo who were preparing to return to the country, to immediately stop their return, while they had time to see things more clearly. The situation in Turkey having “ rift », the penalty was lifted and the Hungarian contingent was able to return to the country (3). 

Comment: Even if the competence of Turkish soldiers cannot be called into question, the reliability of the commitment of Turkish forces in multinational operations like EUFOR Althea risks being compromised, at least in the coming months. The purges carried out in the Turkish forces could, moreover, have the effect of destabilizing and compromising Turkish commitment externally. The question of finding alternative solutions will therefore have to quickly arise among those responsible for both NATO and the European Union.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

(1) Under the Berlin Plus format, the chain of command is mixed. Command of the operation is ensured by D-Saceur (the British general Sir Adrian Bradshaw) at SHAPE (the supreme command of NATO) while command of the force is ensured by an EU soldier, Austrian general Friedrich Schrötter. Read : The Berlin Accords More (2015)

(2) The operation now has a strength of less than 600 men.

(3) Note that EUFOR Althea has an intermediate reserve force which is stationed in the country of origin. In this case, a unit of Hungarian forces (company size) remains on alert in Hungary.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).