Ladies & Gentlemen, and colleagues from the Indian contingent receiving UN Peacekeeping Medals today.
I feel honored to address you all on this occasion in Camp Ziouani today. First of all, Let me congratulate all of you for well- deserved UN peacekeeping medal.
I would like to start by welcoming Group Captain George Thomas, Defence Attache, Embassy of the Republic of India for honoring us with your presence.
I am extremely happy with the gracious presence of the representative from Golan Israel Liaison Office (GILO) and all the attendees from the local community.
We are celebrating the medal parade of the Indian Contingent. The presence of all the distinguished guests is a befitting endorsement of the achievements of the Indian contingent which has substantiated itself as the best of the best. The Indian peacekeepers have continually served with unstinted resilience and unwavering mettle in UNDOF. Despite the vulnerabilities and the challenging climatic conditions in Golan, the Indian Logistics Battalion has provided a commendable influence to the mission.
It was an honor for me to award you the United Nations Peacekeeping medal in the name of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at this ceremony. I congratulate you all, and thank you for a job well done. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the recipients of Force Commander’s Commendation Letter.
It gives me immense pleasure to apprise you that India is one of the leading providers of peacekeepers for United Nations peacekeeping operations globally; contributing more than 180,000 peacekeepers so far in as many as 44 peacekeeping missions. Indian peacekeepers have earned numerous accolades, wherever they have served.
India has continuously contributed to UNDOF since September 2006 and has thus far contributed more than 3100 peacekeepers. India also provided an able Head of Mission and Force Commander Lt Gen Iqbal Singh Singha, who led UNDOF from Aug 2012 to January 2015 - during the most difficult time in UNDOF’s four decades existence. Thankfully, he happened to be a good friend of mine since 2009. On behalf of the UNDOF, I would like to thank the Government of the Republic of India for contributing with outstanding peacekeepers. Please allow me to recall the appreciation expressed by the United Nations Secretary General in his report to the Security Council about buoyancy and commitment of the troops contributing countries in UNDOF and the UNTSO observers for staying on course despite the continuous challenging environments.
It is a fact that UNDOF is going through inclement times in which we are encountering severe constraints in implementing our mandate as envisaged in 1974 agreement – because of the resultant presence of Syrian Arab Armed Forces in UNDOF’s Area of Operation due to the activities of diverse anti-government armed groups and also the listed terrorist groups, and the enduring conflict in Syria. I would also like to take this opportunity to recall the statement of the United Nations Secretary General in the last SG report which read, “I call upon all parties to the Syrian crisis to cease military actions throughout the country, including in the UNDOF area of operations, and removal of all military equipment, Syrian armed forces personnel and armed personnel from the area of separation. I further call upon on countries with influence to strongly and urgently ask the armed groups in the UNDOF area of operation to terminate all actions in violation of the Disengagement Agreement between Israel and Syrian Arab Republic that jeopardize the safety and security of United Nations personnel and to accord United Nations personnel the freedom to carry out their mandate safely and securely.”
The conflict subtleties in the Area of separation are continuously evolving and are unpredictable. The ongoing conflict - East side of Cease fire line can further escalate the war in the region. UNDOF was instrumental in de-escalation in the past and even in the post September 2014 situation to prevent conflict situation from escalating into a full scale war due to misinterpretation and miscalculation. I happily note the fact that my interlocutors on both sides played a greater role in maintaining ceasefire between the two countries. Therefore, the presence of UNDOF is much more pertinent today than ever before. The UNDOF has so far very adeptly maintained cease fire by de-escalating situations of heightened tensions on many occasions acting as intermediary between the two parties. Beyond this, the UNDOF has introduced some Confidence Building Measures between the two countries such as Apple crossing, student crossing and family visits in the past. The UNDOF is ever ready to support such activities within the framework of Disengagement Agreement and with the consensus of both the parties to the Agreement. Though denied the occupation of UN positions and Observation Posts at present, the UNDOF is implementing its mandate in a modified way in consultation with both the parties. I reiterate that we will continue to strive harder to preserve and maintain Peace and stability.
The UNDOF is now in transition from re-location to re-deployment phase, and have already begun ground works for re-launching of the UNDOF into the area of separation given that the security situation is improved. The Syrian Arab Republic is passing through a difficult time in its history and we are confident that Syria will come out with resolve in the nearest future.
It is worthwhile to accept the great lengths that the Indian Contingent goes to promote the sharing of culture among all contingents within UNDOF. It is all the more notable that they have attained this by accomplishing their UN duties with great distinction and in poised manner. The Syrian Arab Republic and the State of Israel both are genuinely appreciative of the work culture of the Indian troops. I am sure this is an Indian trait and the consequence of the Indian military training. It is greatly respected by the all and I thank you all for that.
While concluding, let me reiterate that you all have served with distinction and honor for which you should be extremely proud of. I am really delighted that this ceremony provides all of us an opportunity to differentiate your contribution to the UNDOF and to bid farewell since you are departing for home soon upon completion of the Tour of Duty.
Last but not the least; Havaldar Amal Deka left us on 22 June for heavenly abode. We all are distressed by his untimely departure and pray that his soul rest in peace. I salute him and pray to the almighty that his bereaved family back home in India can cope up with this massive loss and feel privileged that their beloved had devoted his life for peace in Golan.
May peace prevail in Golan ! Thank you very much.