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    • CCMR organised round table on the draft of National Security Strategy and the draft of Defence Strategy of the Republic of Serbia

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    • Date: 29 January 2009

      Round table on the draft strategies of national security and Serbia’s defense was organized by CCMR on January 28, 2009. Work was divided into three panels, where participants separately analyzed the National Security Strategy (NSS) and Defense Strategy (DS) drafts. Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Serbia, being the proposing side, was given the opportunity to explain the most important features of these drafts, but also to listen to comments from civil society and to clarify political mechanisms for implementation of these documents. Unfortunately and contrary to their earlier statement, they decided not to show.

      The first panel was opened with the question: “What is the importance of those documents and who is responsible for their drafting?” Fund for an Open Society Executive Director Jadranka Jelinčić criticized the NSS draft, noticing that security policy remains an exclusive domain of the state. President of CCMR Managerial Board, Miroslav Hadžić, criticized the proposing side for not making any preparatory studies of the region, reminding that documents like these are made to send certain message to the neighboring countries.

      The second question was: “Who is protected by the security concept founded by those drafts?”. Hadžić said that state sovereignty and integrity still remain the values of the highest priority. Jelinčić stated that the protection of values such as the cohesion of society and the improvement of living conditions should not have been excluded from the drafts.

      The third question that was discussed at the first panel considered the omissions of the proposing side but also the relations between suggested drafts and other documents. Drafting couldn’t look any different than “mission impossible”, without precisely defined development strategy and foreign affairs strategy, said Hadžić. Jadranka Jelinčić agreed, and added that draft sections dedicated to “foreign” or “economic policy” were in collision with those considering challenges, risks and threats (CRT), which  all contributes to the general impression of Serbia’s “strategic confusion”.

      The fourth question was about the review of CRT security which was incorporated in the draft documents. Firstly, Hadžić pointed at terminological inconsistency in draft documents, then, appraised the movement of terrorism, as one of the previously highest CRTs to a now lower position in the draft. The object of his criticism was, however, the securitization of national minorities’ position. Finally, he assessed the CRT analysis incorporated in both drafts as weaker than earlier one.

      Answering the question about the price Serbia was going to pay in order to be fully secured, Jadranka Jelinčić said that the defined time frame in which the suggested aims should be fulfilled, was missing, so she concluded that this is actually a short-time strategy.

      After all, an opportunity was given to listeners and guests to take part in round table and ask questions. Dušan Bogdanović from Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights harshly criticized the lack of the institute of democratic civil control in draft strategies. Staša Zajović, a “Women in Black” representative, argued the placing of sects as CRT to national security, considering it a clericalization of Serbia. Sonja Biserko from Helsinki Committee for Human Rights questioned the omission of the relations with the neighboring countries who had recognized Kosovo’s independence, failing to mention Dayton agreement and unsolved refugees’ problems. On that statement Hadžić responded with counter-argument that daily policy issues should not have a place in strategic documents, which are long-term by their substance. Professor Dragana Dulić, from Faculty of Security Studies, didn’t approve of the omission of human security concept and gender issues.

      In the focus of the second panel was a problem of consensus in national security policy. The first panelist, Božidar Delić, a member of National Assembly from Serbian Progressive Party, told that, despite the criticism, National Security Strategy remains an important document. Furthermore, he thinks of integrity and sovereignty, or, state independence as main values to be protected. Vlajko Senić from G17plus doubted a possibility of drafts’ implementation, if security services were not to be reformed. A Democratic Party representative, Konstantin Samofalov, disapproved of the criticism about the lack of consensus, stating that a wide range of actors participated in drafting.

      Then the issue of whether drafts give a solid basis for a coherent security policy was questioned. A Democratic Party representative, Đorđe Mamula declared that drafts present a good material for further discussion, but criticized the omission of the military neutrality resolution, adopted by National Assembly, from the drafts. Samofalov added that there are two well known goals of Serbian foreign policy: Euro Atlantic integrations and protection of state sovereignty. However, a specific situation of Serbia, which comes from its struggle to maintain its sovereignty and integrity, makes taking part in Partnership for Peace program, a reasonable level of participation in Euro-Atlantic integrations. Vlajko Senić reacted on Samofalov’s statement by stating that it is a true political will that Serbia becomes a NATO member, although it can not be said in public.

      Božidar Delić was convinced that those documents had to be drawn right after the Constitution of Serbia. Instead of this, Defense and Army Acts were enacted. He openly criticized interlocutors who named Euro-Atlantic integrations as unconditional, saying that it only applies to European integrations. Finally, Delić appointed that NSS should not be a short-term document, as it was the case here, if the dominancy of daily policy was to be taken into consideration.

      Zoran Ostojić criticized in particular the omission of energetic security concept from the draft documents.

      Other questions followed. Vera Ranković from International Relations Forum agreed with others on assessing the drafts as unprecise and too general, but also mentioned it couldn’t be any different, because of the lack of foreign policy strategy. Nataša Petrović from Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence agreed as well. CCMR director, Sonja Stojanović, reminded political representatives to make a difference between adoption and implementation of drafts. She also asked them to focus on the interests of security. Jelena Milić brought out the fact of the existence of more than thirty strategic documents which are contradictory to one another. She also criticized the elite determination to keep a balance between the three main points of Serbian foreign policy: EU, Russia and Kosovo.

      The third panel started with the question whether draft documents open any possibility for the security policy to be defined. A representative of the private security company Securitas, Đorđe Vučinić, told how fascinated he was with complete omission of private security sector from draft documents. A representative of Security-Information Agency, Miroslav Panić, declared that he was the only one from state administration attending a conference. Further on, he added that employees of Security-Information Agency have not been asked to participate in drawing the drafts for the past three years.

      Ivan Vejvoda from Balkan fund for Democracy interpreted the crucial elements of Serbian policy: orientation to non-war plans and staying determined in an effort of making Serbia a member of European family, and to accept European values accordingly. Dragan Simić from Faculty of Political Sciences indicated there was an oversight of major social groups as objects of text drafts.

      Professor Bogoljub Milosavljević, from University Union, pointed out that National Security Strategy hasn’t established national security system. He also added that authors couldn’t do a better job because of the lack of the definition of the interests and goals. In a section dedicated to democratic civil control, on Miroslav Pantić statement how current regulations offer enough mechanisms for its implementation, Miroslav Hadžić said the problem in political will remains.

      To conclude, Miroslav Hadžić repeated the thesis about the price of security, interpreted throughout the question “what are we willing to sacrifice?” On the behalf of the organizers, he addressed to Ministry of Defense, saying that purpose of the meeting was not to offend anyone, but to exchange points of view in order to improve the text drafts. Finally, it was necessary to separate discussions about NSS and DS. It is important, in his opinion, to state that both documents contain elements of new, changed security concept.

      Translated by Jelena Obradovic, CCMR Intern

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