11 May 2023
On 11 May, 24 Italian and 10 Lithuanian gendarmes of the Reserve Formed Police Unit (RFPU) of the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) received the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) service medal, which is awarded by the EU High Representative to all deserving women and men serving in different CSDP missions across the world.
The service medal ceremony was hosted by the Head of Mission of EULEX, Lars-Gunnar Wigemark at the Mission’s headquarters in Pristina in the presence of Kosovo’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Xhelal Sveçla, Heads of Mission of EU Member States, the Deputy General Director for Resources of the Kosovo Police, Dejan Janković, the Commander of KFOR’s Multinational Specialized Unit, Colonel Ruggiero Capodivento, as well representatives of other international organizations in Kosovo and other guests.
In his keynote speech, the Head of EULEX thanked Italy and Lithuania for providing some of its finest police officers for this deployment. “Their presence here today demonstrates your willingness to support security and stability in Kosovo and the Western Balkans as a whole,” Wigemark said, adding: “I would be amiss not to thank Poland for its permanent contribution to the EULEX Formed Police Unit. The contingent from Poland serving in Kosovo for many years is a daily reminder of your country’s commitment to security in Kosovo and the greater region.”
Wigemark commended the contribution of the RFPU to Kosovo’s security and stability, especially during a number of important moments, particularly in northern Kosovo at the end of 2022. “Your commitment and your professionalism, which I have witnessed myself on many occasions, have made a real difference, and your service is a testament to the values of peace, security and justice. Serving in a CSDP mission such as EULEX requires courage, resilience, and dedication. You have fulfilled your mandate in a challenging environment, with honour and professionalism, far from your families, friends and loved ones,” said Wigemark.
The awarded gendarmes are part of the RFPU provided by the European Gendarmerie Force (EUROGENDFOR). They temporarily deployed to Kosovo in November 2022 in order to strengthen the capacity of the Formed Police Unit (FPU) of EULEX.
The RFPU is made up of 24 gendarmes from Italian Carabinieri and 10 Lithuanian gendarmes and has been working shoulder to shoulder with EULEX’s FPU, which currently consists of 101 police officers seconded by Poland. The EULEX FPU is Kosovo’s second security responder, forming part of a three-layer security responder mechanism where Kosovo Police is the first security responder, EULEX is the second, and NATO/KFOR is the third. Its main objective is to support the stability of Kosovo and contribute to the security of women, men, girls and boys from all communities in Kosovo.
From 14 March to 15 July 2022, EULEX temporarily reinforced its FPU with a Reserve Unit of 70 gendarmes from Portugal and France provided by EUROGENDFOR.