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NZ Defence contribution to the Balkans

6 October 2008

NZ Defence contribution to the Balkans

The New Zealand Defence Force's nine-year contribution to the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has drawn to a close, Defence Minister Phil Goff said today.

"The withdrawal brings to a close a 16-year commitment to peace and stability in the Balkans region, which at its peak in the 1990s included a 250-strong infantry company in Bosnia-Herzegovina," Defence Minister Phil Goff said.

"New Zealand has provided a military officer to serve at UNMIK Headquarters in Pristina since the mission was first established in 1999. We will no longer be sending personnel to Kosovo due to the down-scaling of the UN Mission, as the region has stabilised.

"New Zealand officers have been working with UNMIK's military liaison component, which was responsible for various tasks including liaising with military forces throughout Kosovo. The 38 officers from 27 countries provided military advice to the UNMIK executive and other international organisations operating in Kosovo, and helped assess threats to the security of international civilian personnel.

"The closure of this mission marks the end of a New Zealand Defence Force contribution in Kosovo itself since 1999 and in the Balkans region since 1992. This length of time demonstrates New Zealand's commitment to peacekeeping and reinforces the valuable contribution we continue to make to provide stability and security in the world's hotspots," Phil Goff said.

Commander Mark Chadwick from the Royal New Zealand Navy is shortly to leave Kosovo, and is the last of nineteen New Zealand officers sent to the mission since 1999.

New Zealand troops are currently serving on peacekeeping operations, UN missions and defence exercises around the world, in places such as Antarctica, Sudan, Timor-Leste, South Korea and Afghanistan. New Zealanders are highly respected in local communities

ENDS

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