SPEECH OF THE HEAD OF MISSION AND FORCE COMMANDER
Ladies & Gentlemen,
I am pleased and honored to address you all on this occasion today. First of all, let me congratulate all of you for well- deserved UN peacekeeping medal.
UNDOF is grateful to welcome Group Captain Tejpal Singh from the Embassy of the Republic of India for their presence in the ceremony.
On the occasion of the medal parade ceremony of the Indian Contingent along with the staff officers of the Bhutanese contingent, I would like to applaud the legacy that the Indian peacekeepers had held in its global peacekeeping endeavors. 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. There are difficulties on the deployment of logistics element on the Bravo side; however I am hopeful that from the next rotations, it would be materialized and the operational troops deployed on the Bravo side will receive intimate logistics support.
It is an honor for me to award you the United Nations Peacekeeping medal on behalf of the Secretary-General Mr Ban Ki-moon at this ceremony.
I congratulate you all, and thank you for a job well done.
Aap saab log ko dher sare badhai aur ache kaam ke liye bahut bahut sukriya.
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 till date in as many as 44 peacekeeping missions. Remarkably 7,794 Indian peacekeepers are currently serving in 12 different mission across the globe and they have earned numerous accolades, wherever they have served. For the Bhutanese contingent, this is the only second mission, but a milestone for UNDOF that we have the peacekeepers from the Kingdom of Bhutan, the newest Troops contributor to UN peacekeeping.
India has continuously contributed to UNDOF since January 2006 and has thus far contributed more than 3249 peacekeepers. I would also like to remember my predecessor and my very good friend from India - Lt Gen Iqbal Singh Singha who ably led UNDOF from Aug 2012 to January 2015 - during the most difficult time in UNDOF’s four decades of existence. On behalf of the UNDOF, I would also like to thank the Government of the Republic of India for contributing with outstanding peacekeepers and the Government of the Kingdom of Bhutan for choosing to contribute staff members in UNDOF. 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 and observers contributing countries in UNDOF and the UNTSO for staying on course despite the continuous challenging environments.
UNDOF, since its relocation from Camp Faour is continuously going through inclement times for mandate implementation as entrusted by the Security Council – in the absence of adequate deployment in the Area of Separation and direct crossing between the two sides. The presence of armed groups in area of separation and resultant presence of Syrian Arab Armed Forces in UNDOF’s Area of Operation presents severe constraints in implementing our mandate as envisaged in 1974 agreement. However, in the wake of Vienna TWO talks on Syria, the terror attacks in Paris and Beirut, Security council resolution 2254, and consequent diplomatic effort offers hope for peace in Syria. In which condition UNDOF’s ultimate objective for return can be materialized. However, security conditions prevailing, through the ongoing mission re-configuration programme UNDOF has made a remarkable achievement since relocation – in fact a launching pad for redeployment. The Mount Hermon positions have been re-strengthened with development of new Position 12 A, reinforcement by additional troops and making it self-sustained, and the force protection level in Camp Ziouani, Position 80 and Position 22 have been significantly elevated. The UNDOF temporary headquarters in Damascus is relocated to Yafour Hotel and Resort, and Mezzeh Office.
The conflict subtleties in the Area of separation though subsided at the moment - are continuously evolving and are unpredictable. The ongoing conflict - East side of Cease fire line can 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, UNDOF had 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. Despite inadequate deployment, freedom of movement and security risks prevailing, 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 completion of re-configuration of the mission would take UNDOF to redeployment phase upon the permissibility of the condition on grounds. A comprehensive mission plan for redeployment and future operations is in the process of making. The Syrian Arab Republic is passing through a difficult time in its history and over the period we have seen Syria as coming out with resolve.
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 distinction. The Syrian Arab Republic and the State of Israel both are genuinely appreciative of the work culture of the Indian troops.
The staff officers from the Bhutanese contingent- You have been the best Ambassadors of your beloved country. It is greatly respected by everyone and I thank you all for that.
Kaden Gasor Boom Yoed . Tasi Delek
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. I wish you a happy togetherness with your families and friends back home after the successful completion of your Tour of Duties.
May peace prevail in Golan ! Thank you very much.