The Balkan Battlegroup is an EU Battlegroup led by Greece. Originally referred to as HELBROC (an acronym of its first member States, namely HELlas, Bulgaria, ROmania, Cyprus), it consists of military units from Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Cyprus, Ukraine, and Serbia. During its third and fourth standby period in the second half of 2011 and 2014, the Balkan Battlegroup was joined by Ukraine, while Serbia signed its participation in 2016.
|EU Balkan Battlegroup|
|Active||1 July 2007– present|
Ukraine (since 2011)
Serbia (since 2016)
The Balkan Battlegroup has been on standby in the following semesters:
- 1 July – 31 December 2007.
- 1 January – 30 June 2009.
- 1 July – 31 December 2011 (including Ukraine).
- 1 July – 31 December 2014 (including Ukraine).
On 1 July 2011, Ukraine was part of the Balkan Battlegroup for the first time. It contributed 10 staff officers, a company of Ukrainian armored vehicles manned with marines, and an Ilyushin Il-76 strategic lift aircraft. Even with the War in Donbass going on since April 2014, Ukraine took part in the Battlegroup's standby period in the second half of 2014. The Riga Declaration of 22 May 2015 stated that the Eastern Partnership Summit's participants 'appreciate Ukraine's contribution to an EU Battlegroup in 2014 and its interest in continuing such contributions in the future'. Anders Åslund, Senior Fellow of the Atlantic Council, was highly critical of the "embarrassing" EU declaration, that did not explicitly condemn Russia's actions in Ukraine, and only summarily praised Ukraine's contribution to the EU Battlegroup, commenting that: "Ukraine offers the EU admittedly minor military support, while the EU does nothing for Ukraine."
On 8 November 2016, Serbia, an EU candidate state, signed an agreement to become part of the Battlegroup, bringing the number of member countries to six.
Coat of arms
The coat of arms depicts a white pigeon carrying an olive branch to a burning globe on a blue field, surrounded by the 12 golden stars of the European emblem.
The olive branch and the pigeon are ancient symbols of peace and in combination with the burning globe reflect the urgent intervention of the HELBRROC BG, whenever may be required.
To complement HELBROC's operational training, two exercises were conducted in May 2007. The first was Command Post Exercise (CPX) EVROPI – I and the second was LIVe Exercise (LIVEX) EVROPI – II.
- Leigh Turner (11 July 2011). "Ukraine joins EU battle group". Foreign Office blogs. Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
- Nestoras, Antonios (19 May 2015). The Common Security and Defence Policy: National Perspectives. Academia Press. p. 62. ISBN 978-9038225241. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
- "Serbia became a part of the EU BATTLE GROUP: What is HELBROC". Telegraf. 28 September 2017.
- Volpi, Valerio (2011). Why Europe Will Not Run the 21st Century: Reflections on the Need for a New European Federation. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 155. ISBN 978-1443830522. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
- "Joint Declaration of the Eastern Partnership summit (Riga, 21-22 May 2015)". European Council. 22 May 2015. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
- Anders Åslund (26 May 2015). "The Disastrous EU Summit on the European Partnership". Atlantic Council website. Atlantic Council. Archived from the original on 16 July 2015. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
- "Serbia joins EU's HELBROC battlegroup". Tanjug. 8 November 2016. Retrieved 10 November 2016.