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    • Four hundred students from the region debated the NATO-Serbia relationship

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    • Date: 01 November 2010
      "In order to make changes, we must first understand them," was the message by the organizers of the fourth students' seminar of political science faculties from the region, "Serbia and NATO," which was held for the fourth time in Kopaonik.

       

      Seminar was opened on Thursday, 28 October by U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Mary Bruce Warlick, State Secretary in the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Serbia Dusan Spasojevic and Norwegian Defence Attache Colonel Esben Aass.

      On behalf of the organizers spoke the Director of the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP) Sonja Stojanovic and representatives of the Centre for Social dialogue and regional initiatives (CSDRI) Branislav Nesovic and Milan Krstic.

       

      Arguably, transfer of knowledge represented single greatest value of the seminar. Mainly, thirty students of Faculty of Political Science and Faculty of Security Studies, University of Belgrade, chosen by CSDRI, have undergone a two-day preparatory seminar organized by the BCSP team. Organizers expected them to pass information and knowledge they have gained to their colleagues. Students showed high creativity and applied several workshop methods. For instance, they motivated their colleagues to do an analysis of reasons for the establishment of NATO, communicated from the perspective of the founder states, visually learned about which institutions and organizations comprise the security architecture of Europe, discussed, and finally, asked questions.

      The next day, partipants attended the debate led by students, who took on the role of an imaginary government representatives and its opposition. "Government" propagated entry into NATO, citing the following arguments: that no one sees Serbia as a military neutral country, that participation in PfP is not a "true measure of cooperation" since we are still far away from that imaginary table where decisions are made; how people in Serbia are captivated by the "cult of defeat" and finally, that NATO membership is of vital importance for economic progress. "The opposition" responded that relation with NATO can not be a relationship of equals. They also questioned the cost of membership.

      That the decision makers may actually learn something from their young colleagues, showed a raging debate that followed on the same day. Arguments "against" amounted to Milos Aligrudic, MP and caucus whip of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) in the National Assembly, journalist and director of the Center for Strategic Alternatives Aleksandar Mitic, and another journalist, Miroslav Lazanski. Conditionally "pro" were professors of the Faculty of Political Science Tanja Miscevic and Predrag Simic, while the discussion moderated by prof. Miroslav Hadzic.

      The seminar was closed by the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Serbia, Dragan Sutanovac, who decided to abandon the concept of a prepared presentation and answered numerous questions from the audience, primarily interested in: how is it possible at all to think about membership in the organization which previosly bombed Serbia; whether he personally supports Serbia's membership in NATO, and would membership in NATO mean more opportunity for defense industries in Serbia.

      The seminar was financially supported by U.S. Embassy, Embassy of the Kingdom of Norway and Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

      Related topics:nato, Serbia, FPN, kopaonik, seminar
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