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EUTM Mali Officers, NCO, Soldiers and civilian personnel,

Let me start by saying that I’m extremely happy to be here today with all of you in Koulikoro. I wanted to come today, and to stay and spend New Year’s Eve with you, because Koulikoro is the core of EUTM Mali. It represents the mission in itself, because here, or also from here, we carry out our main activities, programmed, and many times also including EUTM members from Bamako, always to provide the best support to FAMa capabilities, through training. KTC is part of EUTM, as well as Bamako is a part of EUTM. Also when we deploy to other locations, besides here or Bamako, still, EUTM Mali remains the same mission. That’s why tonight I wanted to come, but at the same time, to have the opportunity to address the whole of the mission. And this is why, Bamako is also here with us, today.

It should be very important that all of what EUTM is doing, in Bamako, Koulikoro or any other location where we are called to carry out our mission, is sufficiently known by all the mission, by all of our training audiences, by all of our partners, even by all of our nations. We must, and we shall improve this knowledge, because it is of the utmost relevance that all these audiences, are aware of the difference that you are making for this wonderful Malian people and for their Armed Forces.

2019 has been a challenging year for EUTM, for several reasons: the most relevant one was security. We would wish, first and foremost for the sake of all this region, that we would be able to support our training audiences in a more safe and secure environment. But EUTM Mali managed to respond promptly and effectively, and we have overcome this challenge, by becoming stronger and safer.

It was also a challenge because we have to respond to different training needs.  But we’ve adapted to our training audience’s requirements, and together with the FAMa, we’ve established better and improved coordination mechanisms, and therefore we were able to provide quality training to around 2500 Malian military, in many locations, in Mali, but also in other countries, within the mandate that we’ve received, always with creativity, professionalism and efficiency.

It was a challenge because we were sometimes confronted with new and unforeseen situations, with problems and incidents. But we were also able to carry on with the mission, learning, finding new approaches, new ways of reaching for better results, and swiftly and efficiently responding to incidents, like the one which we recently had with 5 of our brave Spanish comrades, just some days after assuming my command.

All of this is due to your effort, commitment, perseverance and resolve. For what has been achieved throughout 2019, I wish to express my sincere thanks to each and every one of you, and to say very clearly that the merit of this mission, belongs to all of you.

2020 will bring us new challenges and responsibilities. But it will also bring us new opportunities. We will have to start the new year with all of our heart, as one team, because we are going to undertake many tasks requiring the very best of us, in terms of planning for the future, not only for our Malian friends, but also for our own mission, in terms of advising and supporting the many levels and organizations with which we are consistently and increasingly engaging, in terms of training, with more centralized and decentralized activities, but also internally, to change critical assets that have never been changed, and to put into practice better procedures and practices.

However, being always concerned with the safety and security of every member of EUTM, I’m not worried about what lies ahead, because I’m absolutely confident, that you and me, all of us together, we are able to accept these challenges and, again, to overcome them, because we have a duty with these people, because we have a duty with all of our countries, but also because we have a duty with each other.

Knowing this, I know that 2020 will be a very good year, a year that we are going to dedicate for the sake and well-being of others. I know that to achieve this, your families had to give up of the joy of having you at home, so that you would be here tonight. Please let them know that I wish them a 2020 full of happiness, health and success. And thank them on my behalf for their tremendous generosity.

And to all of you, EUTM soldiers, here and in Bamako, to all the Malian Armed Forces and the Malian people that they protect, and to all the soldiers within the G5S Joint Force, I want to wish, from the very bottom of my heart, a good, joyful and safe evening, but mostly, I want to wish an outstanding New Year of 2020.

On est tous ensemble!

Happy New Year, everyone!