European Union External Action

EUFOR Althea: 15 years promoting peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina

23/12/2019 - 09:07
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December 2019 marked the 15th anniversary since the establishment of the EU’s military operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, EU Force (EUFOR) Operation Althea. Since 2004, EUFOR Althea has contributed to a safe and secure environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina for all its people, reinforcing and supporting the EU’s commitment to the country’s EU perspective as a single, united and sovereign country.


Althea was the ancient Greek goddess of healing. According to myth, she was told by the Gods that her son would die as soon as a piece of wood on her fire was consumed. Althea took the wood from the fire, extinguished it and placed the wood in a chest to preserve her son’s life.

EUFOR Althea – the EU’s military operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina – contributes to preserving a safe and secure environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina, promoting a climate of peace and stability. It is the main military actor in the peace stabilisation role in the country, cooperating closely with NATO under the Berlin Plus agreement.

Unlike the myth, the wood will never again be taken from Althea’s chest but will remain preserved safely. The European Union is committed to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s EU perspective as a single, united and sovereign country, and fully supports and accompanies Bosnia and Herzegovina, its institutions and all its citizens.

EUFOR plays an important part in that. Around 600 soldiers from 20 different countries – including non-EU partner countries – work together towards EUFOR’s main objectives: ensuring a safe and secure environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), supporting training activities with the Armed Forces of BiH, and supporting the overall EU comprehensive approach for BiH.

Cooperation with both the Armed Forces of BiH and the local civil authorities is key. Since the beginning of EUFOR, the responsibility for the execution of many tasks has been handed over to the local authorities according to the principle of local ownership and in line with BiH’s path towards EU membership.


This December has marked the 15th anniversary since the establishment of the operation in 2004, when it succeeded the NATO SFOR (Stabilisation Force) operation. An event was held in Sarajevo on the occasion, in the presence of the Minister of Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Marina Pendeš.

The anniversary was an opportunity to look back on 15 years of successful cooperation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This cooperation has so far included working alongside the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina and law enforcement agencies to build capacity and training, natural disaster relief efforts, community outreach, weapons and ammunition disposal, de-mining activity and the evolution of the so-called Exercise Quick Response, the capability to quickly reinforce in-country troops with reserve forces from partner nations.

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