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    • Stronger Partnerships Towards More Security and Prosperity

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    • Date: 22 February 2018

      Goran Janicevic, Marija Ignjatijevic, Vladimir Trapara, Karl Wolf, Franck Faubladier, Sonja Stojanovic Gajic (foto: BCSP)
      Goran Janicevic, Marija Ignjatijevic, Vladimir Trapara, Karl Wolf, Franck Faubladier, Sonja Stojanovic Gajic (foto: BCSP)

      Serbia is making good use of the available partnership mechanisms with NATO regarding military exercises and peacekeeping missions, but not for the development of the defence industry, it was concluded at the conference on military cooperation organized by the Belgrade Center for Security Policy (BCSP) on 22 February 2018 at Zira hotel.

      At the opening of the conference "The Future of Serbia’s Military Cooperation", BCSP Director Sonja Stojanovic Gajic highlighted the significance of the dialogue based on the analyses and facts on how effectively Serbia is using the available opportunities in the "Partnership for Peace" program to strengthen the security of the state and citizens, and for the economic benefits of cooperation.

      Security issues are more relevant than ever, and as the nature of threats changes more than before it is important to reach for stronger partnerships, Canadian Ambassador Kati Csaba said in an introductory speech. Canada respects the neutrality of Serbia, and military exercises help Serbia to be safer and more stable, and that’s why the public need to understand the benefits of cooperation, the Ambassador pointed out.

      Serbia is an Effective Partner in International Military Exercises

      Serbian Armed Forces use the available partnership mechanisms with NATO in the area of ​​military exercises and training in a good way, assessed BCSP researcher Marija Ignjatijevic. The media shows cooperation with Russia as more intense, but the facts say that since joining the Partnership for Peace in 2006, Serbia has participated in 150 exercises with member states, while having held 12 exercises with Russia, she said.

      Serbia most often exercises with neighboring countries, primarily due to geographical proximity, historical compatibility with the army, as well as the absence of language barriers, Ignjatijevic pointed out. Exercises are the best way to develop interoperability - the ability to work in harmony with the forces of other countries. Great powers exercise with Serbia is not necessarily to build capacity, while it is very useful for Serbia in the military and political aspect, BCSP researcher assessed. One of the most important areas for strengthening cooperation is in the field of emergency situations, she said.

      Colonel Franck Faubladier of the JFC Naples said that the partnership with Serbia is very satisfactory for NATO. Serbia is a very efficient and proactive NATO partner, and the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) is the most demanding partnership program with NATO, which reflects Serbia's high readiness and ambition, he said. By building partnership, we build common security, and for each country, it is entirely up to its decision whether to be a NATO member or not, stated Faubladier.

      Colonel Karl Wolf, Chief of Staff and Deputy Commanding Officer of the Austrian Armed Forces International Center spoke about the experience of Austria, which is military neutral like Serbia. Austria, which participates in peacekeeping missions for decades, develops the capabilities of its military wherever the UN Security Council's decisions permit, through real-life exercises and shared experience. The key to maintaining neutrality is to stay within UN Security Council resolutions, and building trust through co-operation is the path for a neutral country, Wolf stressed.

      Dr. Vladimir Trapara from the Institute of International Politics and Economics agreed that Serbia as a neutral state should be guided by the principle of participation exclusively in missions approved by the UN Security Council. Trapara predicts that military neutrality will continue with NATO cooperation within PfP and IPAP intensified, but not through exercises that Russia would view as threats. For the economic prosperity and security of Serbia a continuation of neutrality is necessary, Trapara underlined.

      Bojan Elek, Pierre Colomina, Cesar Sanchez Lopez, Katarina Djokic (foto: BCSP)
      Bojan Elek, Pierre Colomina, Cesar Sanchez Lopez, Katarina Djokic (foto: BCSP)
      Economic and Defense Cooperation Stronger on Paper

      In the part of the discussion devoted to the opportunities for the development of Serbia's defence industry through military co-operation, BCSP researcher Katarina Djokic pointed out that few of the available mechanisms for economic cooperation with NATO were realized.

      As good examples, Djokic cited codification and demilitarization. Codification includes the marking of weapons produced in Serbia or used in the Serbian Army in accordance with the codification system of NATO, which allows for greater logistical cooperation in peacekeeping operations and the entry of Serbian enterprises into a catalog that is visible to various contractors worldwide. Demilitarization - destruction of surplus ammunition is successfully implemented in Technical Repair Institute Kragujevac, using NATO funds. This is a very good cooperation because the Ministry of Defense recognized the need to solve the ammunition problem and found a way to finance this need, with great business potential, Djokic assessed.

      It was presented that the defense industry employs more than 9,000 people in Serbia and that our best export product is small caliber ammunition. Also, export control should be improved and the industry should be involved in joint European Union projects.

      Pierre Colomina, a researcher at the Institute for International and Strategic Relations from Paris, spoke about plans of the European Union. Colomina pointed out that we are at a turning point deciding on the future of a joint European defense, which is why this topic is very current. Through the European Defense Fund, established in 2017 with the aim of improving the EU's defense industry capabilities, 500 million Euros will be invested that could be available to countries in the EU accession process.

      Representative of the Airbus Group Cesar Sanchez Lopez highlighted the importance of good governance, the rule of law and certainty in the countries where Airbus operates. Recent cooperation with Serbia was achieved with the procurement of multipurpose helicopters for the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

      The Government of Serbia has envisioned 10 measures to achieve certain goals of modernization and production of weapons. However, these measures were too ambitious and cooperation remained limited. The IPAP cycle should be used to solve the identified needs in the defence area, Djokic concluded.

       

      The conference is being organised in the framework of the project "Informing Public Debate on NATO-Serbia relations", implemented by Belgrade Centre for Security Policy with support of the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives.

       

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