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“I Represent 23 Nations”

Text: Eszter Bányász | Photo: Tünde Rácz, First Lieutenant Barna Koncsek |  16:01 June 7, 2024

Major General László Sticz PhD has been the Commander of the EU’s peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, EUFOR Operation Althea for nearly six months. We asked him about the first half of his one-year assignment.

w.dr. sticz laszlo vezerornagy, az eufor parancsnoka.rt  (7)

At the beginning of your assignment, you laid an emphasis on cooperation with local NGOs and armed organizations. Why was that significant?

Immediately after the handover-takeover ceremony, we had to begin to plan and organize how and how quickly I get into contact with the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, because the way EUFOR fits into the everyday life of the country is of considerable significance. I would not like to lead an organization that forms a distinguished unit within the country but one that works as an integrated part of it, cooperating with political leaders, chiefs of military and police organizations and local leaders. First of all, I also wanted to take stock of my own military force and its capabilities, which was not easy as the EUFOR personnel are located at several military bases.

What exactly are your core leadership principles?

I laid down six core principles for myself and the whole personnel of the mission: impartiality, unity, cooperation, credibility, integrity and progress. The most important of these is cooperation because it ensures the dialogue that is necessary to establish contacts and make our goals known and respected. Impartiality is also specifically important, which I think should be a core principle of each peacekeeping mission but here, in EUFOR Operation Althea, it is especially true. Besides, as commander of a military force, I also find credibility significant. This is an indispensable feature and core principle, especially on such a complex political scene as Bosnia and Herzegovina. I emphasize during each meeting with leaders that although these core principles are primarily true of my own military organization, I also recommend them to political leaders for consideration, as the unity that we create in the military field could set an example for the political sphere as well.

w.dr. sticz laszlo vezerornagy, az eufor parancsnoka.rt  (10)

You took over command of the mission after a long period of Austrian leadership. To what extent are you building on the already existing, well-working elements, and to what extent do you intend to innovate?

After taking over a position, a leader always tries to set up a leadership structure and a policy based on their own core principles that support success in their own view. Therefore, automatisms cannot be applied in such situations. New people always bring renewal, so of course there are fields where modifications have to be applied so that they suit my core principles and increase the efficiency of the given field. As a lead nation, it is also our duty to somehow integrate our own, Hungarian virtue into the system of command.

The organization of the so-called Hungarian week also became possible due to an innovation. What is the main concept and the overall goal of the initiative?

I always try to emphasize that I represent 23 nations. This means 23 national histories, 23 different types of military competence and altogether 23 approaches. I believe that, for the sake of achieving cohesion, we must make it possible for soldiers to learn about each other’s culture, way of thinking and background. The concept of national weeks provides a great opportunity for this. Its main point is that each nation chooses a week according to their national holiday, during which they introduce the characteristics, history, culture or even sports background of their country. I wanted to make sure that we, Hungarians show what we are capable of in the lead nation role. Starting in the week of 20 May, we have been the first ones to put this initiative into practice. I hope that we will establish a tradition and everyone will try to follow our example.