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“We are on the Right Track!”

Text: Márton Navarrai Mészáros | Photo: Warrant Officer Lajos Szabó |  13:17 March 14, 2024

“As leader of the mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the greatest challenge is to create a balance between local political decisions and military supports” – told us Major General Dr. László Sticz, Commander, Operation EUFOR Athea on 13 March at the Budapest Balkans Forum (BBF) international conference organized by the Hungarian Institute of International Affairs (HIIA).

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“The main goal of Operation EUFOR Althea is to be able to support the work of the authority and political leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina to create and maintain peaceful and secure circumstances in the country, based on the mandate of the United Nations” – answered Major General Dr. László Sticz to the questions of defence.hu at the foreign policy conference in Budapest. The major general recalled that he ceremoniously took over the leadership of the European Union’s peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina from Helmut Habermayer, Austrian major general in Camp Butmir, near Sarajevo, early this year.

“In light of the past two and a half months, I evaluate the presence and work of the EUFOR in the Bosnia and Herzegovina region with an increasing positivity. In the recent past, I had the opportunity to meet almost each national and governmental leader and to explore how much they rely on our support, presence and work. We are present with our sub units in the whole territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the contact with local residents is working really well. All in all, Operation EUFOR Althea has an increasing recognition in the field of politics and citizenship” – he emphasized.

Major General Sticz recalled as the leader of the mission that the state structure of Bosnia and Herzegovina means a general challenge as it is unique not only in Europe but in the whole world. “Here, each political leader is present according to entities, so it is exceptionally hard to make political decisions” – he said adding that although forming unity is really difficult, the main task of the mission is to support and maintain military presence and a peaceful and secure environment in the convoluted system. The first Hungarian commander of Operation EUFOR Althea also remembered that we are on the threshold of beginning the discussions about the EU accession of the Western Balkans’ country, which is expected with hope by both the political leaders and the citizens. “I am sure that this will be a huge advancement in the lives of the Bosnian and Herzegovinians, that is why the substantial majority of the citizens is expecting it positively” – he underlined when answering to the defence.hu.

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“Operation EUFOR Althea in Bosnia and Herzegovina is obviously on the right track” – declared Dr. László Sticz in the panel discussion entitled “Security Maintained: International Actors and Missions on the Ground” at the BBF international, English-language conference. In the section, the questions regarding the security policy challenges in the Western Balkans were answered by the Italian Brigadier General Federico Bernacca, Deputy Commander of the Kosovo Force of NATO, appointed last year, Zsolt Bunford, Deputy State Secretary for Security Policy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the American Brigadier General Pamela McGaha, Commander and Senior Military Representative of the NATO Headquarters Sarajevo and Csaba Rada, Head of the Western Balkans Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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“I emphasize that I would like to stay on my military level and I give voice to it in Bosnia and Herzegovina, too. I tell each political leader that I should be regarded as a general, not as a political figure. I know my job and they should also do theirs and help only in synchronizing the two more successfully” – emphasized Major General Dr. László Sticz at the discussion.

“Forward, onward, together in Bosnia and Herzegovina” is our motto, which I drafted at the beginning of the commander year. By this, I wanted to imply that now, when we took over the leadership of the mission from the Austrians after 15 years, we would like to continue forward on their way. We are determined to support the EU accession of the country of the Balkans, therefore, if everyone takes our side, the side of progress, we can be successful with an appropriate cooperation, including our military engagement, he told the audience.