The European Union Advisory Mission in Iraq is delighted to have welcomed Robert Boer, a Dutch national, to its team as the Deputy Head of Mission at the end of October. In this short interview, Mr Boer shares some insights about his background, his first impressions on the ground as well as his aspirations for the Mission.
Tell us a bit about your background. What is the journey that has brought you here?
I was working for the Public Prosecutor’s Office in The Netherlands when I had the chance to join my first EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) mission in 2009. Realising how interesting and rewarding it is to work in an international environment, I never returned to my old job. Since then, I have not only worked in several countries for the EU but more recently also for the US State Department and the United Nations. My experience and knowledge from previous missions will definitively support me in my position as Deputy Head of Mission of EUAM Iraq.
What are your impressions based on your first days on the job?
Firstly, I must say that I am really impressed by the warm reception of the colleagues. The Mission Support colleagues have taken care of all practical issues very well and Mission-wide, I have received many introduction briefings and presentations which makes it so much easier for me to familiarise myself with EUAM Iraq. Secondly, it seems that there is a very positive energy in the Mission and a lot of activities are being conducted and planned . The contacts with the Iraqi counterparts seem to be very close and we keep receiving requests for advice and assistance which indicates a high level of trust.
Next month, EUAM Iraq will celebrate its five years of activity. What do you see as being the most important elements of the Mission’s work in Iraq?
I think that EUAM Iraq has established itself as a reliable and professional partner for the Iraqi security sector. The Mission has the experts to provide advice on many relevant topics at the strategic level of the Iraqi counterparts and the Mission’s approach, of which local ownership is a key aspect, is highly appreciated by our Iraqi colleagues.
What do you hope to contribute to the Mission?
A very important aspect of my position is of course to ensure that all colleagues can do their work as effectively as possible so we can focus on delivering on the mandate. But given the environment we work it is also crucial to create an atmosphere where everybody feels respected and safe. We spend a lot of time amongst our colleagues in a high-risk so it is important to keep an eye out for each other.
What do you appreciate most about the local environment?
Iraq has of course a very rich cultural so I am looking forward to driving around in Baghdad and seeing as much as possible of the city. I might even get the chance to visit other parts of the country as well. All my Iraqi colleagues have been very welcoming and supportive so far so that has been since arriving in the Mission.