News 06 Feb 13

Romania to Join EU Force in War-Torn Mali

Romania is to send a small unit to join the EU’s anti-extremist operation in strife-ridden Mali.

Marian Chiriac

Romania's Supreme Defence Council, CSAT, announced on Tuesday that it was sending 10 officers to join the European Union mission in Mali to help train local foces.

"Romania’s involvement in this operation is in accordance with country’s EU membership and the EU’s efforts to stop terrorist activities and organized crime,” the CSAT said.

The EU recently announced plans to send a training mission to the north African country, which has been hit by an Islamist insurgency that prompted military intervention by the former colonial power, France.

The EU mission will comprise about 250 trainers and a further 200 “force protectors”. The mission is expected to be up and running by the end of next month.

The CSAT also decided to cut troop numbers for missions abroad this year by 312. Some 2,036 Romanian troops currently service in missions abroad, among whom are more than 1,700 soldiers deployed in Afghanistan, mostly in the restive south.

While following the general trend of reducing its military presence abroad, Romania remains a staunch ally of NATO and of the US.

Last year, Romania sent a frigate and 207 troops to enforce an arms embargo on Libya and spent around €4.5 million keeping the frigate running for three months in the Mediterranean.

While the military missions may impress Romania's EU and NATO partners, they are far from popular at home.

More than 65 per cent of Romanians are against any military involvement of the Balkan country in foreign armed conflicts, according to polls.

Over 20 service members have been killed in Afghanistan alone and many believe such missions are a burden on the country’s debt-ridden budget.

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