With Silvio, Europe is guaranteed to preserve its integrity at the global scale

An interview with Ms. Sava Stoisavljevic, current ECU Secretary General and Secretary General in Silvio Danailov’s ticket for the ECU Presidential Elections’2014 

1Q: Ms. Stoisavljevic, you have been in the position of ECU Secretary General for almost four years now. How would you describe this experience and responsibilities of the job?

A: I have been very fortunate to have had a variety of good experiences in this job. The major benefit for me is, of course, the opportunity to work in the field of chess, which has been my great love and passion since I was five. Naturally, my devotion and dedication to chess, first as a professional player and then as an arbiter, has made this job which includes a great deal of administration and organizational issues much more enjoyable and rewarding.

As for the second part of the question and the responsibilities, I would say they are numerous, serious and occasionally extremely challenging.

Q: We have heard many positive comments about your excellent and responsible work as Secretary General. Based on your experience, what do you think are reasons for this and what qualities of yours are essential to perform this function with success?

As I like to quote, the only place where success comes before work is a dictionary, so hard work is understood. And, apart from vast chess knowledge which is also understood, I think one of the most important things is being a good communicator – ability to communicate and connect well with people from various European nations. As I am expected to do all sorts of communications and correspondence, it is crucial to communicate effectively, but courteously, however delicate and difficult a situation may be, without rushed or unacceptable reactions which might harm the image of the ECU.

Q: Is that why you were appointed Secretary General? To keep the cool and control in the meetings and discussions when things get heated?

A: Well, do I really look like a rigid disciplinarian who likes to impose authority? (smiling) No, no, speaking seriously now – I believe that the presence of a woman in these “men” meetings is no doubt a good thing for women’s chess and let me say I would be extremely happy to see more female colleagues of mine participating in the decision-making process about crucial chess issues. It is a fact that men dominate the chess world, but this should be just an additional reason for women chess professionals to fight for greater female prominence and visibility in chess.

Q: In 2010 when Mr. Danailov’s ticket won the elections, the ECU office was moved from Berlin to Belgrade. If you compare the state of affairs in the organization back then when you took over the office management and nowadays, four years later, what changes would you say there are?

Let me first begin by saying that my predecessor Mr. Metzing did a great job in the Berlin office. Thanks to his extensive competence and diligence, we got all the documentation in the best of order and his initial help and practical words of advice were of immense help to me.

We were very lucky with the office premises in Belgrade, as we managed to get them free of charge, owing to the fact that the city of Belgrade recognized the importance of having the head office of such a reputable institution as the European Chess Union in Serbia. And this has remained so up to the present moment – we have never had to pay any rent for the offices, which are, by the way, very representative and in the very centre of the city. This has saved the ECU tens of thousands of euros.

In terms of the office work, I can freely say there have been lots of improvements. The new well-designed website which offers vast opportunities for further upgrading has been launched, the bidding procedure has been made very transparent with all the received bids being published online, meticulous financial work – with the great help of our Treasurer Mr. Burstein and Bookkeeper Mr. Gretener  – as well as effective communication with federations, have led to practically there being no federations’ debts towards the ECU – to name just a few of these advancements.

What I would like to emphasize as an important change taking place over the last 4 years is the overall public image of the ECU as a professional, well-organized and well-managed institution with very clear and defined principles. With all due respect to the previous management – I don’t mean to say that the ECU lacked any of these during their term. My point is that thanks to, above all, Silvio, the ECU has managed to adopt a high profile in the public in general and at the global chess level. It seems to me that the chess world has been starting to treat the ECU with the seriousness and respect which it rightly deserves. But, a lot more struggle in this direction is ahead of the ECU and I honestly hope that national federations will give us the chance to move things further in this direction after the elections as well.

Q: Is this something which you see as the advantage of your team in these elections?

A: Absolutely. With Silvio, Europe is guaranteed to preserve its integrity at the global scale. This is of crucial importance for all European national federations if you ask me, and this is, after all, something that the founders of the European Chess Union, such as Mr. Jungwirth and others, have been fighting for for decades. I truly hope the federations will not allow even a slightest chance for this integrity and independence of Europe to be endangered in the near future.

Q: This might sound as an uncompromising and combative attitude to some. The ECU is, as we all know, a part of the bigger picture, which means it has to obey ‘higher order rules’.

A:  You are absolutely wrong about ‘combative’ and partly right about ‘uncompromising’ when describing my position. Speaking for myself, and I believe that the members of our team who are all accomplished chess professionals that I respect and trust very much will agree with me, I am a strong advocate of cooperation and tolerance at all levels and I will always do my best to attain a common line whenever there is a chance. Conflicts are not something that any reasonable person should strive for and they bring benefits for nobody. However, when the ECU is sent ultimatums without any previous calls for discussion, then I must say this should not be about ‘obeying higher rules’. This is simply open disrespect for what Europe has to say and attempt to deprive it of its rightful influence and power. This is when you can describe my attitude as ‘uncompromising’. Integrity, I will repeat, should be the very core of your character if you wish people to respect you. The same applies to organisations, in this case the ECU.

Q: If you have to choose one thing that the current management can be proud of and one thing that needs to be further developed and given priority, what would they be?

A: ‘Chess in school’ Written Declaration is undeniably the tremendous achievement we should all be proud of. Enormous efforts were made back then in 2011 and 2012 to have the Declaration accepted by the European Parliament and, luckily, they paid off. It is a momentous success for chess, and the same goes for the established partnership with UNESCO. This is a pioneering initiative the positive effects of which will become fully clear and prominent only in the future. What’s extremely important at the present moment is that we have made this huge, initial step by having the European Women’s Championship this year under the UNESCO patronage. This means that UNESCO has recognized the ECU as its partner and we look forward to further developing this cooperation in terms of mutual projects, sponsorships deals, etc.

Concerning the thing which needs to become our top priority in the future, it is marketing strategies and results. Therefore, we will try to focus our utmost efforts and attention in that direction if given the chance in the next period. As a matter of fact, our team has already developed a new platform called Chess Cloud Media – to put it simply, the aim is to create a common portal for all national federations’ websites and create a unified and big chess audience which will garner the interest of sponsors. I believe this is a great idea – instead of looking for individual sponsorships, which are, of course, always welcome but unstable source of income and totally irregular, we will have something concrete and profitable to offer to sponsors, who will recognize their interest in this cooperation.

Apart from that, I think that bringing JJ (Joran Aulin-Jansson) in our team will have a great impact on our marketing programmes and initiatives in the future, which is exactly what we were missing in our team. If we are elected, he will, based on the Norwegian model of extensive media coverage of Carlsen-Anand match, work on popularisation and promotion of chess in the media. We all know how much chess is marginalized when it comes to its presence in the media nowadays. In order to attract permanent, corporate sponsorships, it is essential to raise public interest for chess. It will not be easy at all, but this is the only sound development basis that will incite investment in chess. With a lot of hard work, commitment and right ideas, I am convinced that it is attainable.

Q: We all know that pre-election campaigns are full of big promises, sweet-talking and fantasy budgets, since these things are the best way to ‘sell’ yourself to voters. It seems that your team has been very careful, shall I say restrained, in this respect.

A: You can tell people what they want to hear, lots of beautifully wrapped up fanciful stories and promises of absolutely brilliant future with fantasy quality, of course. But, this is not who we are – shallow campaign techniques and empty slogans are not really our manner. My position is that in every elections candidates need to behave responsibly towards their potential voters and respectfully towards their opponents. After all, the elections will be over one day, come what it may, and we will all have to look each other in the eyes.

What we want is the federations to continue to perceive us as responsible and serious management. Our lack of enthusiasm for big scale imaginary concepts means simply being realistic. We cannot promise magic. But, what we can promise is experienced, devoted, hard-working and, most importantly, principled management.



Ms. Sava Stoisavljevic was born in Novi Sad, Serbia in 1974. She graduated from the University of Economics in Novi Sad. She speaks fluent English and Serbian (native), and has the intermediate level of Greek and Russian.

She began to play chess at the age of 6 and was Youth Champion of Bosnia and Herzegovina a few times, as well as Youth Champion of Yugoslavia in 1992 and 1993.

Ms. Stoisavljevic has a title of International Chess Arbiter, she is a member of the highest chess arbiters group “A” and official FIDE lecturer. She was nominated for Chief Arbiter of the Chess Olympiad in Khanty Mansiysk and she is the first woman in history to occupy this position.

Sava arbitrated in different international competitions, the most important among them being: Chess Olympiads (Bled 2002, Torino 2006, Dresden 2008, Khanty Mansiysk 2010), Women’s FIDE Grand Prix Tournament, Nalchik 2010, World Women Championship 2007, World Junior (or Youth) Championships 2003, 2005, 2006, European Team Championship 2009, European Individual Women’s Championship (2010, 2013, 2014), etc.

Beside this, Ms. Stoisavljevic was Project Coordinator or Project Manager of more than 20 international chess events and European Championships. She was also the European Chess Union Grand – Prix Director and Secretary of the Balkan Chess Association.

Presently Ms. Stoisavljevic is the European Chess Union General Secretary and member of the FIDE Qualification Committee.

Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Comments are closed.

Powered by WordPress