On Friday (29 February) Germany will pass command of the maritime components of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL-MTF) to the European Maritime Force EUROMARFOR. Founded in 1995, EUROMARFOR is made up of vessels from France, Spain, Portugal and Italy. Even after transferring command, Germany will remain engaged in the UNIFIL Maritime Task Force (MTF).
Federal Foreign Minister Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier commended the UNIFIL-MTF's protection of Lebanon's maritime borders as a “success story”. The Minister expressed his gratitude to the German troops in a letter to Commodore Hans-Christian Luther, the German MTF Commander:
“… I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and all the troops most warmly for your tremendous work in this important mission. When I visited the fleet in December 2006, I was able to see for myself the great commitment and professionalism of all involved. I would like to pay tribute to this, especially as I am aware what this dedication means for you as well as your families and partners.
You and your predecessors Admiral Bollow and Admiral Krause have led the United Nations' first maritime mission with confidence and a sense of proportion and helped bring about a clear improvement in the security situation in the deployment area. The outstanding cooperation between the Maritime Task Force and the Lebanese Navy is an apt reflection of the cooperative approach applied in implementing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701. Training for the Lebanese Navy was part and parcel of this and Germany made a considerable contribution here which is already bearing fruit.”
Even after the handover of the command of the UNIFIL-MTF, German involvement in the UNIFIL peace mission remains the core of the German Government's wide-ranging commitment in Lebanon. Over and above the UNIFIL mission, Germany is working to lend Lebanon greater support in securing its borders. For example, the German Government is involved in training the Lebanese Navy and has provided Lebanon with two patrol boats, a third will be handed over this year. For this, the Federal Foreign Office has made available a total of 1.9 million euro. The German Government has also repaired the Lebanese coastal radar stations which had been destroyed and officially handed the radar equipment over to the Lebanese Government on 26 February this year. The Federal Foreign Office made available 1.2 million euro for the repair work.
This is all intended to help Lebanon monitor its own coast. A German-led pilot project is currently being set up to improve protection of the land border. The aim is to test and introduce a modern and integrated border management system at the northern section of the border with Syria. Germany has provided equipment to the tune of 4.5 million euro.