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    • The 60th NATO summit: Aftermath

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    • Date: 09 April 2009
      From left: Vincze, Milanovic, Radoman (chair), Vlkovsky, Beers
      From left: Vincze, Milanovic, Radoman (chair), Vlkovsky, Beers

      On 9 April, only five days after the 60th Summit of Heads of State and Governments of NATO member states, the Centre for Civil-Military Relations organised a discussion about the outcomes of the Summit held in Strasbourg and Kehl. The introductory presentations were given on behalf of the NATO contact point embassy in Belgrade - by Mr. Jan Vlkovsky, Political Officer in the Czech Embassy, on behalf of the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade by Political Officer, Mr. Bradley Beers, on behalf of the NATO Military Liaison Office in Belgrade, by Peter Vincze, PfP officer in the MLO, and by Ambassador Milan Milanovic, Director of PfP Directorate in Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

      All four speakers agreed about following successes of the NATO summit: the return of France to the military structures of the NATO, increased number of European troops being deployed in the ISAF mission in Afghanistan and acceptance of two Western Balkan states - Croatia and Macedonia into NATO membership. The audience was informed that Afghanistan is to remain the focus of Alliance's military, stabilisation and reconstruction efforts and that therefore getting more "boots on the ground" will remain a priority, amidst conflicting views on the level of engagement promised by European states involved in ISAF operations. Turkey is expected to play even more prominent role in NATO by getting a post of Assistant Secretary General and possibly a post of new civilian envoy to Afghanistan in order to work on behalf of the Alliance in reaching out to the Muslim world.

      The audience showed great interest in the presentation about the new U.S. Administration’s priorities regarding NATO. Besides engagement in ISAF and training mission in Iraq, the U.S expects to work with allies on new priorities, such as closer cooperation with Russia regarding counter-terrorism and nuclear disarmament, including negotiation of new START agreement, engagement in Darfur and in the fight against Somali pirates. Introductory presentations also addressed the outcome of the summit in the light of continuing NATO’s "investment" in the security of the Western Balkans and possible challenges to the closer cooperation between Serbia and NATO. The open door policy regarding membership was reconfirmed in the summit without stronger promises being made to any aspiring country.   

      The audience of around forty people was composed of the representatives of Serbian government, academia, diplomatic missions to Serbia and students. They posed questions regarding the perception of Eastern European NATO member states about the importance of article 5 in the aftermath of Georgian conflict, than followed by the uncertainties expressed from parts of audience on the exact content of the new American "Af-Pak" policy. They also showed interest in such sensitive issues as the modalities of engagement against the NATO adversaries, force protection, "troop surge".

      In regard to Western Balkans regional security, most of the questions were posed at finding out what might be the consequences of Croatia and Albania joining NATO, both for Serbia and the wider region. The audience was also interested in why Serbia was not using the full potential of its PfP membership and when precisely the Serbian Government would complete necessary steps to be able to use PfP opportunities. These questions asked for clarification over deadlines for the start of implementation of Security Agreement and opening of mission to NATO. Event brought together the audience reflecting all major spectrums of Serbian political scene and professionals and students interested in security issues, which constituted the perfect condition for an open, unbiased debate.

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