5th October 2016 was marked as date of opening BMTF HQ in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia. BMTF Standing Organization Opening Ceremony, as long-awaited event, was attended by delegations of member and partner countries and high delegates from different institutions and embassies. Ceremony took place at the permanent HQ of BMTF – “Ilinden” barracks in Skopje, within the newly renovated and equipped premises, supported by US and Norway. BMTF Commander, Col Micovic Zarko and HQ staff presented BMTF project plans and future activities to the event attendees.
Minister of defence of the Republic of Macedonia, Mr. Zoran Jolevski underlined that during economical challenges, trough the work of working bodies, BMTF member countries established unique mechanisms and solutions to build up joint capacities based on existing capabilities. Foundation of BMTF is on the principles of cooperation, understanding, synergy and creativity. This is only beginning, we will invest in widening, implementation and realization of new ideas, he said.
Serbian minister of Defence, Mr. Zoran Djordjevic stated that BMTF allows states to more efficiently use their medical forces and resources, and is the best example of the functioning of the “pooling and sharing” principle. He stressed the great importance of the BMTF as a unit that will be able to provide medical assistance in crisis situations and quickly respond to eliminate the consequences of disasters in the region. “The establishment of such a unit in the region will be of benefit for all the participating countries and the opening of the BMTF HQ is the first step towards that goal”, Djordjevic said.
Ms. Andreja Katič, Slovenian Defence Minister, stressed that opening of BMTF SO is a milestone in the development of the Balkan dedicated to regional military medical forces. She added: “This is a military project, which is focused on providing help to people when they need it the most. Recently, we face the major natural disasters in almost all countries in the Balkans, so I believe that dedicated military medical forces will be very useful. I wish them a lot of training and as little real work as possible. I believe that BMTF will be success story in the context of regional cooperation. “The Minister Katič thanked the partner countries of Norway and the USA for financial and expert support they have provided through the years.
I am sure the Balkan Medical Task Forces, in due time, will prove itself as a very valuable asset in a given future situation. I can only encourage you all to strengthen this valuable capacity and prepare it for use amongst yourself – Mr. Arne Sannes Bjørnstad , Ambassador of Norway.
“Establishment of a standing headquarters for any military unit is an achievement to be proud of, and historically marks the birth of that organization. But the establishment of the BMTF Standing Organization headquarters, for its life-preserving purpose, comprised of six regional nations, is truly an extraordinary accomplishment worthy of our attention, of our praise, and of our continued support” – US Pentagon representative, Col. Kevin Hill.