Spain on Monday ended its military mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where Spanish Defence Minister Carme Chacon described Spanish troops as having ‘fulfilled’ their task, Spanish media reported. ‘Peace has been brought where it seemed impossible to have it,’ Chacon said during a visit to Sarajevo, ending 18 years of Spanish military presence in Bosnia.
Several dozen Spanish military experts will nevertheless stay in the Balkan country to help train its army. A total of about 46,000 Spanish troops have passed through Bosnia as part of international military operations since 1992. Twenty-two Spanish soldiers and an interpreter were killed during that time.
Spaniard Ignacio Martin Villalain served as commander of the European Union’s EUFOR Althea deployment in Bosnia from 2007 to 2008. Madrid began gradually withdrawing troops in February, with only about 100 currently remaining.
The Bosnia mission was Spain’s longest international peacekeeping mission. Spain recalled its troops from Kosovo in 2009. It still has troops in Afghanistan and Lebanon, and in the Indian Ocean to fight piracy. EUFOR took over the mission from the NATO-led SFOR in December 2004. SFOR deployed to stabilize peace after the Bosnian war ended in late 1995, following more than three years of bloodshed.
After a series of reductions, EUFOR now has around 2,000 troops from 25 countries, 20 of which are EU-member states. The mission had 7,000 soldiers initially.