UNIFIL Force Commander Transfer Of Authority, 28 January 2010
The hand-over ceremony at UNIFIL Headquarters in Naqoura was attended among others by the Defence Minister of Lebanon, Mr. Elias Murr, the Spanish Minister of Defence, Mrs. Carme Chacon, the Italian Deputy Minister of Defence, Mr Giuseppe Cossiga, Lebanese Armed Forces Commander General Jean Kahwagi, Italian and Spanish Chiefs of Defence, General Camporini and General Rodriguez Fernandez, Members of Lebanese Parliament, senior officers of the Lebanese Armed Forces, Internal Security Forces, General Security and State Security, regional and local government officials, Ambassadors and senior UN officials.
In a farewell speech, Lieutenant-General Graziano looked back at his three years in command of UNIFIL, pointing to major improvements in the situation on the ground in south Lebanon.
“The cessation of hostilities and respect for the Blue Line have been mostly upheld by the parties,” he said. “The parties’ continued cooperation with UNIFIL and their steadfast commitment to resolution 1701 have been essential in this regard,” he added.
The outgoing Force Commander praised the Lebanese Armed Forces for its cooperation. “UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces have developed an effective partnership, which is the cornerstone for successful implementation of resolution 1701,” he said.
He pointed to the challenges that lie ahead, and said: “It is the responsibility of the parties to take advantage of the window of opportunity provided by UNIFIL’s presence to achieve a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution.”
Lieutenant-General Graziano reviewed a UNIFIL Honour Guard and laid a wreath in memory of peacekeepers that lost their lives in the line of duty. He later signed the Transfer of Authority document and handed over the UN Flag to Major-General Asarta.
Major-General Asarta, in his first speech as Force Commander and Head of Mission, recalled his previous stint with UNIFIL as Sector East Commander from December 2008 to April 2009. We are here to assist the parties to maintain the cessation of hostilities and to move forward towards a permanent ceasefire, he said, “and we are determined to do it”. He added: “In this spirit, I shall do my very best to ensure the successful implementation of our mandate in southern Lebanon.”
UNIFIL currently has about 12,000 military personnel, including about 780 serving in the Maritime Task Force, from 29 countries. The civilian component of UNIFIL numbers more than 300 international and some 700 national staff.