News 2018

03 July 2018

Arms Control Symposium starts in RACVIAC

The Arms Control Symposium ‘Future Challenges and Developments in Arms Control and PSSM domain’, organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation with support by the Federal Republic of Germany, started on 03 July 2018 in RACVIAC.

The Symposium is a continuation of the established series of annual activities and attempts to bring together national and international experts in discussions on the future developments and possible challenges within the Arms Control domain.

The purpose of this two-day event is to discuss current and future Arms Control mechanisms and alternative national, regional and organizational programs, reforms and approaches aimed to foster a cooperative security environment and promote international security, stability and transparency.

Opening the Symposium Ambassador Haydar Berk, RACVIAC Director, said that “RACVIAC is honoured to be in charge of developing this annual Symposium as a regional platform to enable RACVIAC Members to update the South-Eastern European region on relevant information regarding this field. As we have repeatedly stated a regional approach to security issues is a crucial element of peace and stability in the region and beyond. Hence, I hope that ideas expressed during this Symposium will not remain at a conceptual level but that this forum, through the involvement of the field’s prominent experts, will prove conducive to highlighting the challenges and successes of the past whilst outlining the plans for the future in a very concrete way for the benefit of the SEE region”, concluded Ambassador Berk.

Providing a platform that enables Members to update the SEE region on the relevant information on changes and plans regarding Arms Control topics in the participants’ respective countries this RACVIAC Symposium will focus on current Arms Control challenges in Europe and world in general, the recent developments and new technologies in weapon systems as well as new threats regarding armaments and the current situation related to CSBMs in Europe. The recent developments in the Physical Security and Stockpile Management as well as Small Arms and Light Weapons area (training, deficiencies, solutions, support mechanisms, etc.) will also be a part of the Symposium’s agenda.

The Symposium participants are representatives of ministries of foreign affairs, defence, security and interior and national authorities responsible for the implementation of Arms Control treaties or Arms Control experts in the field of SALW and/or PSSM.

28 June 2018

The UNODC Seventh Steering Committee Meeting of the Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries

The UNODC Seventh Steering Committee Meeting of the Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries started on 28 June 2018 in RACVIAC-Centre for Security Cooperation. RACVIAC hosted the activity as a result of cooperation and partnership with UNODC. The UNODC Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries is UNODC’s key mechanism to support the countries of West and Central Asia to develop regional and international joint responses to counter the harmful impact of illicit narcotics trafficking and transnational organized crime on security, governance and social and economic development.

Cooperation of RACVIAC and UNODC goes back for a few years and share some common priorities and themes: cooperation and coordination in addressing contemporary security threats, prevention of terrorism and violent extremism, illegal migration, cyber security.

As a regionally owned organization, naturally RACVIAC interest lies with the South East Europe. However, hosting such activity broadens the scope of expertise and complements each other and brings added value.

25 June 2018

Meeting of the Representatives of Defence and Security Committees from SEE Parliaments starts in Skopje

The two-day „Annual Meeting of the Representatives of Defence and Security Committees from South East European Parliaments” organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation in cooperation with the Committee on Defence and Security of the MK Assembly, and with support of the DCAF - Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces and the OSCE Mission to Skopje started in Skopje on 25 June 2018.

This Meeting is a continuation of a series of Annual Meetings of the Representatives of Defence and Security Committees launched in 2013, aimed at supporting cooperation among the Defence and Security Committees from SEE Parliaments by providing the platform for interaction and networking of parliamentarians, security and defence policy experts and state officials.

The purpose of the 2018 Annual Meeting is to give a broad introduction on the mechanism and practices of the regional parliamentary defence and security committees, enabling the participants to discuss parliamentary procedures, challenges and oversight mechanisms in the field of defence and security. Divided in the three panels, the event will focus on the contemporary security challenges in Southeast Europe, increasing non-traditional missions of military, and good practices of parliamentary oversight of the defence and security sector. Opening the meeting Mr Talat Xhaferi, President of the MK Assembly said that MK has an excellent cooperation with RACVIAC as well as with all organisations in the region. He also used the opportunity to thank to RACVIAC for providing the expertise in broad varieties of current security topics. At the end he emphasized the importance of this two days meeting where all the aspects of the parliamentarian oversight will be covered, which is on of the basic values of every democratic society and legal state.

Mr Hari Lokvenec, Chairman of the Committee on Defence and Security, pointed out that MK is dedicated on promoting regional cooperation, understanding, trust and building of good neighbouring relations and security and stability. Regional cooperation initiatives, especially in the field of security and defence now more than ever represent fundamentals for strenghtening peace and prosperity in SEE.

In his opening remarks Ambassador Haydar Berk, Director of RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation, said that “the current security situation in South East Europe is characterized by complex developments – transition processes in the region, global geo-strategic interests and spill-over effects of the crisis in European neighbourhood. The region potentially faces the threat of terrorism, violent extremism and risk of irregular migrations.” Ambassador emphasized that the changing nature of current security trends “also imposes shifts in the traditional role of military, which consequently affects the role, mechanisms and practices of Defence and Security Committees. In that regard, this Meeting provides good opportunity for the Defence and Security Committees Members to exchange the views on the current security challenges and discuss the parliamentary oversight activities in the context of the contemporary security environment”, concluded Ambassador Berk.

Ms Radmila Shekerinska, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence stressed that all the countries in SEE region are facing with non-military, assymetric, hybrid and cyber defence challenges so they should be treated jointly through effective activities. Coping with this challenges needs strengtening the current, and adoption of new mechanisms of responding, which many often are above national capacities and capabilities of the states. Therefore, no country in the region can fully deal alone with security issues, so that mutual cooperation among countries of the region is of highest importance. At the end she wished all neighbouring countries and everybody in the region good future as well as successful work to all participants in the following two days.

The Meeting has gathered more than 80 participants, government representatives, parliamentarians, members of defence and security committees, expert staff of the defence and security committees and relevant ministries from SEE as well as representatives of DCAF, OSCE Mission to Skopje, and NATO Liaison Office Skopje.

13 June 2018

Energy Security Seminar starts in Romania

The Energy Security Seminar “Strengthening the Energy Security in the EU’s Neighbouring South-Eastern Countries” organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation, in co-operation with the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Energy, and the Romanian National Company of Natural Gas-ROMGAZ, started on 13 June 2018 in Mediaş, Romania.

The purpose of this event is to continue to enable open expert debates on common energy security challenges in the context of the Energy Security Strategy and the Energy Union Strategy Framework.

Taking into account the conclusions of the previous events organised in 2015, 2016 and 2017, a natural evolution towards cooperation formats between EU’s neighbouring South-Eastern countries (e.g., Energy Community and CESEC) and concrete solutions and measures to minimize the threats in energy supply, have been borne in mind. Since the biggest share of the energy consumption in SEE is dependent on imports and heavily reliant on a single supplier the 2018 Seminar will focus on the exchange of information regarding the best practices in developing strategic natural gas storage capabilities.

Opening the Seminar on behalf of RACVIAC Brigadier General Gordana Garašić, RACVIAC Deputy Director, said that this event “is a good opportunity to recall some of the long-term priorities and trends concerning the topic of our activity: increasing energy efficiency and reaching the proposed 2030 energy and climate goals; increasing energy production and diversifying supplier countries and routes; completing the internal energy market and building missing infrastructure links to respond quickly to supply disruptions; speaking with one voice; strengthening emergency and solidarity mechanisms and protecting critical infrastructure. This includes more coordination and cooperation. In accordance with RACVIAC mission to foster dialogue and cooperation on security matters in SEE region we see this Seminar as an excellent opportunity for the further development of regional cooperation on Energy Security and to promote this issue through the exchange of experiences and sharing of information”, concluded Brigadier General Garašić.

Mr Andrei – Petrişor Maioreanu, Secretary of State from the Ministry of Energy of Romania, welcomed participants on behalf of the host country and said that “increasing the energy system means capitalizing our resources and strengthening the regional and European energy system. The harmonization of the national interest with the obligations assumed at European and international level is important. In this regard, we support constant efforts to diversify the energy supply by identifying new suppliers and new routes of energy transport meant to increase energy security, as well as developing gas infrastructure projects of great relevance to the Central and South-Eastern region in Europe. Mr Maioreanu, underlined that “Romania identifies as a priority the need to decrease the vulnerabilities and to alleviate the risks that the region of Central and Eastern Europe is facing regarding the security of energy supply in the current geopolitical context.”

The Seminar has brought together senior level officials and experts from governmental institutions and agencies, relevant International and regional organizations, and selected experts in the field of energy security, including experts from the Romanian National Company of Natural Gas-ROMGAZ.

During the next two days the participants will present the latest developments as well as share their knowledge and experience in the field of security of energy infrastructure, the diversification of energy sources and transport routes as well as the key role of strategic natural gas storage capabilities, respectively.

12 June 2018

RACVIAC Director attends Ministerial Conference on Good Governance

Regional School for Public Administration (ReSPA), in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is organizing the Ministerial Conference “Good Governance in the Western Balkans” that is taking place on 12-13 June 2018 in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The two-day Ministerial conference will address the strategic framework for the public administration reform (PAR), its financial sustainability, quality of policy planning and coordination, and monitoring and reporting on implementation of PAR strategies, as well as the adequate EU financial assistance for supporting reforms.

Good governance at all levels of public administration is a necessary pre-requisite also for security and stability.

The Mostar Ministerial Conference brings together ministers, deputy ministers, and assistant ministers responsible for public administration, justice and finance in the Western Balkans, as well as other high level representatives of the state administrations dealing with PAR, public finance management and European integration, representatives of the European Commission (DG NEAR and DG BUDGET), OECD/SIGMA, International organisations, civil society, and others.

29 May 2018

General Director for Defence Policy of MOD of Montenegro Visits RACVIAC

Upon invitation of Ambassador Haydar Berk, Director of RACVIAC, Mr Ivica Ivanović, MSc, General Director for Defence Policy of the Ministry of Defence of Montenegro, accompanied by Colonel Zoran Bošković, Advisor for Military Issues to the Minister of Defence, visited RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation on Tuesday, 29 May 2018.

The Montenegrin delegation was welcomed by RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Berk, and RACVIAC staff members. After a presentation on RACVIAC history, mission and accomplishments Ambassador Berk provided further explanation related to the RACVIAC Members' role and development of the Programme of activities. He also provided additional information related to some of the flagship activities such as Cyber Security, C-WMD Network, Building Integrity and Preventing Corruption, that are contributing to dialogue and cooperation in the region. Ambassador Berk emphasized that activities of the Centre reflect primarily the Members’ needs and requirements, keeping at the same time track of the contemporary security agenda of the EU and NATO.

Mr Ivanović expressed thanks for the information provided and his appreciation for RACVIAC contribution to the security of the SEE region. He emphasized that Montenegro will continue to provide strong support to the Organization and confirmed that the first Montenegrin secondee to RACVIAC will arrive by the end of this year.

16 May 2018

Visit to the Austrian Land Forces Command

On Wednesday, 16 May 2018 Director of RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation, Ambassador Haydar Berk, together with BG Gordana Garašić, Deputy Director of RACVIAC, and Col Ägidius Daniel Muhr visited the Austrian Land Forces Command in Graz.

RACVIAC delegation was welcomed by Lieutenant General Franz Reißner, Commanding Officer of AT Land Forces. An office call was followed by a briefing about AT Land Forces in general as well as missions abroad and current domestic operations.

about the current RACVIAC Programme of activities and expressed his thanks and appreciation for the strong support that Austria is providing to RACVIAC. Furthermore, current security affairs were discussed.

LtGen Reißner thanked for this working visit and announced that Austria will continue to support RACVIAC work.

14 May 2018

Gender Training of the Trainers Course starts in RACVIAC

A two-week NATO-certified “Gender Training of the Trainers Course”, organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation in partnership with the Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations (NCGM) and the Croatian Armed Forces General Staff, started on RACVIAC premises on 14 May 2018.

The subject Course is a direct result of continued cooperation between RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation, the Croatian Armed Forces, and NCGM as a key proponent and was launched in 2014. It is aimed at promotion of gender equality policies and equal opportunities in the security sector.

TThe purpose of the Course is to enable instructors and trainers to successfully plan, conduct and evaluate education, training and exercises on how to integrate the gender perspective within their respective functional area. Additionally, the Course will provide participants with the knowledge of frameworks and guidelines in regulating gender in military operations as well as skills and competencies required to effectively plan, conduct and evaluate the training of security sector personnel in both the national and international context.

Opening the Course RACVIAC Deputy Director, Brigadier General Gordana Garašić, reminded the participants about the landmark UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security adopted in 2000 saying that “its historical value and weight is in the fact that it recognizes the disproportionate impact that war and conflict have on women and children. Furthermore, it highlights the fact that historically women have been left out of peace processes and stabilization efforts. Related Resolutions call for full and equal participation of women at all levels ranging from conflict prevention to post-conflict reconstruction, peace and security.” “Where are we today? We realized that integration of the gender perspective is a valuable tool in the toolbox that a commander has in order to successfully accomplish a mission, at home or abroad. To have a gender perspective means to be able to detect if and when men and women are being affected differently by a situation due to their gender. In terms of a military operation our activities can affect men, women, boys and girls differently. That’s why it is important to recognize the possible different consequences when planning and conducting our operations, and by addressing and recognising that through the whole population we are increasing the operational effectiveness of our mission and tasks“, BG Garašić went on to explain.

The Course has gathered 25 participants, military officers and NCOs as well as civilian equivalents from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Finland, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey, and United Kingdom.

The Course will be executed in accordance with the NATO-certified NCGM Programme, consisting of advanced distributed learning, lectures, discussions, syndicate work and individual case studies, and it is supported by instructors from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, and Sweden.

08 May 2018

Regional Workshop on Integrity and Control Measures

The Regional Workshop “Integrity and Control Measures in Defence and Law Enforcement Institutions”, jointly organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation, Regional Anti-corruption Initiative (RAI) and the Ministry of Defence of Montenegro, started in Podgorica, Montenegro on 08 May 2018.

Being aware of the fact that integrity and fight against corruption in the defence and security areas presents one of the common challenges in the region, and considering that this specific topic needs to be treated multi-disciplinary, this Workshop is a continuation of the series of activities organized previously by RACVIAC - Centre of security cooperation and is intended as a capacity building endeavour for a new generation of experts involved in the subject of building integrity and fighting corruption.

The objective of the 2018 Workshop is to increase the capacity of ministries of defence and ministries of internal affairs, particularly border police, in the field of integrity and corruption prevention.

The Workshop aims to increase awareness about innovative anti-corruption mechanisms and tools, but also the needed legal solutions and regulatory measures. It is anticipated that the participants will gain a better understanding of the specific elements related to institutional integrity measures, prevention and resolution of conflict of interest, declaration of assets, income, liabilities and interests, and identification and mitigation of corruption risks related to protection of classified data.

Greeting the participants on behalf of the RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Haydar Berk, Ms Ana Ezhova Krzhaloska, Programme Manager for International and Regional Cooperation with focus on Euro Atlantic Integration Pillar, said that “due to their specificities the fields of defence and internal affairs have been identified as areas with high risks for misconducts and corruption. Public procurement, conflict of interest, financial control and data protection have been acknowledged as particularly vulnerable processes. In this respect, further actions and support to the respective authorities in South East Europe in strengthening their institutional integrity and resilience are needed”. She continued by saying that “the close regional and wider cooperation among the SEE countries through dialogue and various forms of coordination is a strong response to todays’ challenges to defence policy, leading to building of confidence and security among the countries and development of synergy.” At the end Ms Ezhova Krzhaloska stressed that “this activity is in line with the identified needs and actions addressed within the Integrative Internal Security Governance, a new approach to internal security governance capacity-building and reform introduced in the Integrative Plan of Action 2018-2020 of the Western Balkan Border Security Initiative.”

In his Opening remarks the Head of the International Cooperation Section in the Ministry of Defence of Montenegro, Mr Andrej Lakić, said that the topic of Building Integrity and Fighting Corruption requires the attention of all of us who are focused on developing the global partnership and active exchange of information with the aim to properly implement integrity and control measures in defence and law enforcement institutions.

Speaking on behalf of the Regional Anticorruption Initiative the Acting Chairperson, Mr Davor Dubravica, expressed the commitment of RAI to support national institutions in the SEE region both by strengthening their capacities and enhancing regional cooperation in the field of conflict of interest and asset declaration. In this respect, the draft International Treaty on Data Exchange for the Verification of Asset Declaration will be presented during the Workshop.

The Workshop has gathered more than 30 participants, mid-level representatives of the ministries of interior and defence from the Republic of Albania, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Republic of Croatia, Montenegro, Moldova, Romania, Republic of Serbia, Republic of Turkey and Kosovo⃰ as well as the representatives of the Regional School of Public Administration (ReSPA) and some nongovernmental organizations.

*This Designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.

23 April 2018

WMD Cyber Crimes Investigations Course

“Cyber Security: Training on WMD Cyber Crimes Investigations” Course, organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation with the support of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) from the USA started on 23 April 2018 in RACVIAC premises.

The course is a second event related to WMD Cyber crimes investigations organized by RACVIAC and DTRA based on the conclusions from a series of events conducted within the C-WMD Network project where cyber issues were identified as a common modern threat to security.

The objective of this Course is to instruct nontechnical investigators in the skills needed to exploit digital technology to combat criminal activities, the proliferation of WMD, and the misuse of dual-use materials and technologies. Participants will learn about the current cyber environment and the technologies presently employed by cyber experts to further criminal investigations. Furthermore, participants will also conduct a series of practical exercises utilizing the introduced methods and technologies. The Course will culminate in a capstone exercise where participants must analyze a suspect computer and find hidden information on the device.

Opening the Course, RACVIAC Director Ambassador Haydar Berk said that “we all know that Cyber space is commonly recognized as the battlefield of the future, and that it perhaps already is just that. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to develop the capabilities in our region, to be well prepared to protect our countries’ critical infrastructure, to detect and to take the necessary measures against illegal, criminal cyber activity, against terrorism or other forms of destabilizing attacks.” He added that “the idea is to create a long-term project with the aim to establish a self-sustainable regional team of instructors who will be able to deliver the trainings in the countries of the SEE region in the future“. Expressing his appreciation to the partner in this activity - DTRA, Ambassador concluded that „close regional and wider cooperation and networking is the only way forward for a strong response to todays’ challenges to security, leading to building of trust and confidence, harmony and enhanced synergy in our region.”

Speaking on behalf of the co-organizer LT Russell A. Dallas said that DTRA takes the issues of cyber security and WMD cyber crimes investigations very seriously and that understanding the urgency of talking about this threats is very important. He added that partnerships, exchanging of experiences and lessons learned are equally valuable as training and exercises.

This five-day Course has gathered officers, analysts, and investigators from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Turkey and Kosovo**.

* Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.

** This Designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.

19 April 2018

39th MAG Meeting held in RACVIAC

The 39th MAG Meeting, the semi-annual meeting of the Multinational Advisory Group (MAG), RACVIAC steering body, took place in Rakitje on 19 April 2018. The meeting, which gathered the member countries of the MAG, was organized by the MAG Chairmanship of the Republic of Croatia.

The Meeting was officially opened by the MAG Chairperson Ambassador Amir Muharemi, Croatian Assistant Minister of Foreign and European Affairs.

The meeting started with a brief presentation of the Director’s Annual Report by the Director of RACVIAC, Ambassador Haydar Berk, who highlighted the most significant achievements gained in the reporting period. He informed the audience that the Centre successfully conducted 28 activities in 2017. Ambassador Berk said that all of the conducted activities, related to a wide spectrum of security issues, supported dialogue, cooperation, networking, capacity and confidence building in SEE region. He also underlined that RACVIAC has further intensified cooperation and partnership with international and regional organizations and initiatives such as NATO, OSCE, IAEA, UNODC, etc. Ambassador also emphasized that RACVIAC is a part of both the Western Balkan Border Security Initiative and the Western Balkan Counter-Terrorism Initiative which represent two of the three prominent pillars of the Internal Integrative Security Governance, an initiative endorsed by the EU and led by DCAF Ljubljana.

Ambassador Berk pointed out that RACVIAC will continue developing projects that are contributing to regional stability, transparency and security abiding by RACVIAC main areas of interest: arms control, C-WMD Network project, countering terrorism and violent extremism, foreign terrorist fighters, border and security management, democratic oversight and accountability, human rights and gender equality, cyber security, building integrity and fighting corruption and energy security.

Furthermore, Director took the opportunity to thank all Members, Associate Members, Observers, international organizations and partners for their continuous support and contribution to the Centre. He expressed his appreciation to the active Associate Members, Republic of Austria, Federal republic of Germany, Hungary and Norway for their support for RACVIAC Programme, as well as to the United States of America and the Republic of Croatia for their invaluable contribution and cooperation in the C-WMD Network Initiative implementation and Cyber Security Course.

Director’s presentation was followed by the presentations by RACVIAC Programme Managers and Leaders, LtCol Servet Aya, Ms Ivana Barbara Blažević, Ms Ana Ezhova Krzhaloska, and Mr Boško Rotim, with regard to the respective Programme achievements and activities conducted in 2017, current status of 2018 Programme and projections for 2019.

In addition, MAG participants were briefed on the RACVIAC Budget realization for 2017, all relevant issues regarding the Budget for 2018, as well as projections for the next four years.

Pursuant to the Agenda Brigadier General Gordana Garašić, RACVIAC Deputy Director, informed the MAG representatives about the current personnel structure in the Centre encouraging once more RACVIAC Members and Associate Members to second personnel to the positions of Programme and Activity Managers.

At the end of the meeting the MAG adopted the nomination of the Major General Major General (R) Jeronim Bazo from the Republic of Albania as the new Director of RACVIAC for the period 1st November 2018 – 1st November 2021.

13 April 2018

Financial Agreement for 2018 signed with the Federal Republic of Germany

On 13 April 2018 H.E. Mr Thomas E. Schultze, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Republic of Croatia, and H.E. Mr Haydar Berk, RACVIAC Director, signed the Financial Agreement between RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation and the Federal Republic of Germany for the year 2018.

With this Agreement the Federal Republic of Germany allocated funds which will be used to support RACVIAC activities, covering the costs of seminars, courses and workshops, focusing on Cooperative Security Environment and Security Sector Reform Pillars. The identified spectrum of regional needs in the said domains ranges from training of inspectors while providing a chance for practical demonstrations of the knowledge gained on the one hand, to identifying possible contributions of the most relevant, well-functioning Arms Control regimes to regional stabilization on the other hand. The main activities include the “Dayton Article IV Course”, “Vienna Document 11’ Course”, “Open Skies Course”, and “Arms Control Symposium”.

On the other hand, the “Border Security and Management Seminar” and the “Gender Training of the Trainers Course” also received Federal Republic of Germany’s support in order to enhance regional cooperation and efficiency of border management authorities and implementation of the gender perspective in the security sector in South East Europe.

Federal Republic of Germany as an Associate Member of RACVIAC has been a constant, invaluable supporter of the Organization since its inception not only financially but also politically as well as in terms of expertise, thus significantly contributing to enhancing trust and confidence in the region and beyond.

10 April 2018

Proliferation Security Initiative Workshop starts in Split

The “Proliferation Security Initiative Workshop, Split 2018” organized by the Republic of Croatia and the United States of America, with the support of RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation, started on 10 April 2018 in Split, Croatia.

This Workshop is a continuation of the initial C-WMD Network project idea that stemmed from the PSI TTX organized by the Governments of the Republic of Croatia and the United States of America in Zagreb, Croatia in November 2013.

The purpose of the “Proliferation Security Initiative Workshop, Split 2018” is to enhance awareness of the value of the Proliferation Security Initiative. The main objectives of this event are to increase the ability to counter WMD proliferation through the arrangements of the Proliferation Security Initiative and to support the ongoing process of developing C-WMD national strategies.

As the C-WMD Network project is entering the national validation and testing phase of the programme all C-WMD Network participating nations are taking an active part in the abovementioned event.

The Workshop will present participants with a three-phased scenario geared towards providing a forum for sharing of experience and identifying how the Proliferation Security Initiative can best contribute to effective national and regional WMD counterproliferation efforts.

After the three-day Workshop all the C-WMD Network participating nations are staying on for a meeting on Friday, 13 April 2018, organized by RACVIAC. The purpose of the April 13, 2018 meeting is to give the C-WMD Network participating nations the opportunity to continue sharing their experiences in making progress in the process of drafting C-WMD National Strategies.

20 March 2018

Open Skies Course starts in Hungary

The “Open Skies Treaty Aerial Observation Course”, co-organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation and the Hungarian Ministry of Defence, started in Jakabszállás in Hungary on 20 March 2018.

The Open Skies courses have been organized in RACVIAC since 2002 and are some of its most distinctive training events with the purpose to train personnel from SEE countries to plan, organize and execute an Aerial Observation Mission based on the provisions of the Open Skies Treaty thus increasing the administrative capacity in the field of security cooperation.

Opening the Course on behalf of RACVIAC Director Ambassador Haydar Berk, LtC Servet Aya, Programme Manager in RACVIAC CSE Pillar, said that “the Open Skies Treaty, developed during the last years of the Cold War as a mechanism to increase transparency between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, together with the Vienna Document, has gained a newfound relevance in the recent years”. He continued by saying that this Treaty “is one of the most important and effective military-political instruments aimed at building trust and increasing transparency. The South East European region is also a part of it and most of the countries are members of the Open Skies Treaty and benefit from it. It provides important means to gain a greater understanding about military activities and could contribute to a de-escalation of a crisis”, pointed out LtC Aya. At the end he extended his deepest gratitude to Hungary for hosting and co-organising the Course as well as for providing the observation aircraft.

Speaking on behalf of the co-organizer Major General László Domján, Head of Hungarian MoD Defence Policy Department, recalled for the participants the history of the Open Skies Treaty and reflected on its importance. Referring to the changed security environment and increasing security challenges not only in Europe but all over the world as well Major General said that this Treaty is an important instrument that is able to provide greater openness and transparency and to enhance confidence- and security-building measures. He also underlined the significance of belonging to a family of experts on the Open Skies regime and sharing of experiences which is essential to develop and strengthen capabilities and cooperation.

The two-week Course is designed as a combination of a theoretical and a practical part. The theoretical part will provide a comprehensive and detailed overview of the relevant parts of the OST while during the practical part of the Course an Aerial Observation Mission will be planned and carried out over the territory of Hungary using the Open Skies aircraft, the AN-26. The practical phase will take place next week at Kecskemét airport and in the Photolab in Budapest.

The Course has gathered participants from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey and Kosovo⃰ and is supported by the provision of specialists and experts from Germany, Hungary, and Italy.

*This Designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.

13 March 2018

Border Security and Management Seminar begins in RACVIAC

As a continuation of the border security and management event series the “Border Security and Management Seminar”, organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation in partnership with DCAF Ljubljana, is taking place in Rakitje on 13 March 2018.

The purpose of this event is to strengthen capacity building and support the implementation of the Border Security and Management Concept of the OSCE Participating States in South East Europe as well as the DCAF Integrative Internal Security Governance Concept and its Western Balkan Border Security Initiative. By addressing the challenges in border security and management this Seminar is aimed to improve efficiency of the border management authorities in SEE and foster mutual cooperation in mitigating current and potential security threats.

The Seminar will cover a wide array of expertise in the field of national and international policies and mechanisms in cross-border movement and migration management: irregular migration challenges, risk assessment and information management, return and readmission of migrants, migrant interviews and the role of the military in border management.

Opening the Seminar RACVIAC Director Ambassador Haydar Berk said that “although the intensity of migrant flows that have significantly affected Europe during the past several years has diminished, the challenges to the law enforcement and migration authorities caused by the developing dynamics of migration are becoming increasingly diversified. The challenge is even greater since on the one side we need to ensure a free and secure movement of persons, goods, services, and on the other hand we are facing threats of terrorism, smuggling and trafficking in weapons, drugs and human beings.” Ambassador Berk continued by emphasizing that “cross-border security challenges nowadays can be effectively prevented and tackled through interagency and international collaboration only. In that sense, sharing of good practices, cross-border cooperation, transparency and confidence-building constitute the first logical steps towards generating solutions for the benefit of all. This is very important especially when we take into account the fact that our countries and their borders are not identical, each has a particular feature and requests a specific policy response“, said Ambassador Berk.

Seminar introductory speeches were given by Mr Andreas Pichler, Austrian Ministry of Interior Attaché to Croatia and Slovenia, Mr Anton Travner, Director of DCAF Ljubljana and Mr Marco Weiser, Liaison Officer of the German Federal Police for Croatia and Slovenia.

The event has gathered more than 20 participants, police officers and civilian officials responsible for border security and migration from the ministries of interior/security, ministries of finance, representatives of the customs, drug control, border guard/border police national services and other relevant institutions, as well as experts from OSCE and DCAF Ljubljana.

This Seminar is supported and sponsored by the Republic of Austria and the Federal Republic of Germany.

08 March 2018

RACVIAC marks International Women's Day

Today the world is marking International Women's Day and there is a strong global momentum striving for gender parity.

This year the UN is marking it under the theme „Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives”.

With this theme the UN is asking to transform global movement for women’s rights, equality and justice into an action, to empower women in all settings, rural and urban, and celebrate the activists who are working relentlessly to claim women’s rights and realize their full potential.

RACVIAC – Centre for Security cooperation remains fully committed to the promotion of gender equality and inclusiveness. In this regard the Centre continues to organize various activities each year addressing the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and related resolutions on women and peace and security. This year also, for the fifth time, we are organizing a Gender Training of the Trainers Course scheduled for May.

RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation conveys greetings to all women on the occasion of International Women's Day.

05 March 2018

Dayton Article IV Orientation Course begins in Sarajevo

)The “Agreement on Sub-Regional Arms Control (Dayton Article IV) - Orientation Course”, hosted by the Ministry of Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina, started in Sarajevo on Monday, 05 March 2018.

The Course has been organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation since 2001 with the support of the Federal Republic of Germany. It is based on the provisions of the Agreement on Sub-Regional Arms Control pursuant to the General Framework Agreement for Peace in BA, Annex I-B, Article IV.

The purpose of the Course is to instruct the designated individuals on how to successfully perform their duties as inspectors and/or escorts pursuant to the Agreement on Sub-Regional Arms Control and to establish a common understanding of the Agreement in order to foster mutual trust and confidence as well as transparency during the performance of inspections.

Opening the Course on behalf of RACVIAC Director Ambassador Haydar Berk LtC Servet Aya, Programme Manager in RACVIAC CSE Pillar, stated that ““Dayton Article IV Course’’ is one of the most recognizable annual activities of our Organization, since it evidently makes a significant contribution to regional stability, transparency and trust and attracts participants not only from the SEE region but the entire world as well. Having participants from South Korea with us here today proves the importance of this Agreement, not only when it comes to its successful practical application nowadays but experience and good practice sharing as well”, added LtC Aya.

The Course will last 4 working days and it will consist of a theoretical and a practical part. The practical part will be held in the Armed Forces of Bosna and Hercegovina units in Visoko and Kiseljak. It will involve a training inspection of a Declared Site, enabling the participants, previously divided into two teams, to practice their roles as inspectors or escorts.

The Course has gathered more than 30 participants from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, and OSCE.

At the initial phase, the Course used to be co-organized by RACVIAC and the Office of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for Article IV of Annex 1B of the Dayton Peace Accords but in 2014 Signatory Parties took ownership of the Regional Arms Control, Dayton Article IV Agreement thus assuming responsibility for its further development in cooperation with the international partners.

01 March 2018

Advanced SAR Course starts in RACVIAC

The “Search and Rescue (SAR) - On Scene Coordinator (OSC) Advanced Course”, organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation in partnership with the National Protection and Rescue Directorate of the Republic of Croatia as part of the wider Search and Rescue Programme that encompasses a set of tailor-made activities designed for experts involved in the subject of search and rescue, started on 01 March 2018 in RACVIAC.

The purpose of this advanced Course that supports the further development of regional cooperation and builds capabilities in the search and rescue area, is to explore the concrete needs of each participating SAR institution related to the designation, duties and responsibilities of the On-Scene Coordinator (OSC), especially the role of OSC in a mass rescue operation, on-scene communication and when planning and conducting the search.

The Course will also further strengthen the overall SAR capacity in the national SAR structures of the SEE countries and increase the cooperation in civil emergency response pursuant to the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue.

The Course lectures are delivered by an internationally acknowledged SAR expert from the Joint Aviation Authorities Training Organization (JAATO), Mr Brian Brophy, who will share the expertise and best practices in promoting the implementation of the International Conventions related to SAR, in particular the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual for SAR Coordinators.

The Course participants are mid-level representatives, civilian and military, of the relevant institutions from South East Europe that deal with Search and Rescue activities such as defence/Armed forces, national RCC authorities, national directorates for protection and search, civil aviation authorities, ministries of interior, and civil emergency management authorities.

27 February 2018

Basic SAR Course starts in RACVIAC

The “Basic Aeronautical Search and Rescue Course“ started on 27 February 2018 in RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation.

The Course is a continuation of a set of activities jointly organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation and the National Protection and Rescue Directorate (NPRD) of the Republic of Croatia, aimed at capacity building and improvements in the fields of search, rescue and protection, as part of wider cooperation in the SEE region in monitoring and implementing civil emergency measures.

The objective of this activity is to increase the capacities of the relevant public institutions in civil emergency response as well as to further enhance the cooperation among them. The Course will focus on exploring the concrete needs of each participating SAR institution related to aeronautical SAR, in order to launch comprehensive regional SAR development actions. Encouraging and developing possible regional and cross-border cooperation through SAR operations, exchanging experiences and best practices, addressing the common challenges and exploring the potential future steps in the field of protection and rescue in South-Eastern Europe, will be the topics of this activity too.

Opening the Course Ambassador Haydar Berk, RACVIAC Director, said that “RACVIAC has recognized the importance of efficient SAR structures, national and regional alike, and treated this topic as a security issue that should be further discussed and explored. The close regional and wider cooperation among the SEE countries, through dialogue and various forms of coordination, is a strong response to todays’ challenges to international security and defence policy, leading to building of confidence and security among them, and development of synergy among the participants in these activities”, emphasized Ambassador Berk.

Speaking on behalf of the co-organizer Mr Dragan Lozančić, NPRD Director General, said that cooperation and coordination is a key word in this area. Besides that education, training and exercises aimed at capacity building and skills development both on the national and regional or international level are crucial because there are always some aspects of the search and rescue area that should be improved, he added. The Course will also provide a very good opportunity for the participants to gain knowledge and make contacts, in Croatia and across the border, concluded Mr Lozancic.

This event has brought together more than 50 participants, civilian and military, from the relevant SEE institutions dealing with search and rescue activities: defence/armed forces, national RCC authorities, national directorates for protection and search, civil aviation authorities, ministries of interior, civil emergency management authorities, etc.

The necessary expertise and best practices will be delivered by Mr Brian Brophy, SAR Expert from the Joint Aviation Authorities Training Organization (JAATO).

Shortly after this event ends the “Search and Rescue - On Scene Coordinator Advanced Course” will begin on 01 March in RACVIAC.

8 February 2018

Azerbaijani Ambassador Visits RACVIAC

On Thursday, 08 February 2018, H.E. Mr Fakhraddin Gurbanov, the newly appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Republic of Croatia, visited RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation.

He was welcomed by RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Haydar Berk, Deputy Director Brigadier General Gordana Garašić, and RACVIAC staff members.

After a presentation on RACVIAC history, mission and accomplishments Ambassador Berk provided further explanation related to the RACVIAC Members' role and development of the Programme of activities. Ambassador emphasized that apart from promoting dialogue and cooperation between the SEE countries, networking has always been a very important aspect of RACVIAC overall aims in order to harmonize the practices, rules and procedures and build trust and confidence.

Ambassador Berk also provided additional information related to some of the flagship activities such as energy security that are contributing to dialogue and cooperation in the region.

Ambassador Gurbanov thanked for the information provided and expressed his appreciation for RACVIAC's contribution to the security of the SEE region.

6 February 2018

Chemical Weapons Convention Workshop starts

A Workshop focusing on the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation in partnership with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has started on 06 February 2018 in Rakitje.

The CWC workshops are aimed at promoting the implementation of the CWC in South-Eastern Europe, which directly enhances regional stability, transparency and trust.

The purpose of the 2018 Workshop, fifteenth in a row since 2004, is to discuss relevant issues related to the CWC and provide a broad overview of the CWC implementation procedures with specific focus on the different aspects, and measures in implementing the Convention. OPCW seeks to gain a clear understanding of the measures that are currently in place in the different countries in the region and of the mechanisms deployed by them.

Opening the Workshop Ambassador Haydar Berk, RACVIAC Director said that “this year the main focus will be on „Understanding Non-Proliferation in the CWC Context” and within that comprehensive topic specifically on how to prevent the intentional misuse of chemicals and what to do in case that happens. It is essential to have a complex picture about the issues, the ways of prevention and the players as well as the possible solutions in case such an emergency situation occurs. The Workshop will explore the tools and means to enforce non-proliferation and will give an overview of the related matters. We hope that this Workshop will serve as a favourable environment that will encourage focused discussions”, concluded Ambassador Berk.

Lecturers and experts, Mr Guy Valente and Mr Jan Wuyts from OPCW, Ms Raluca Ginghina from the Romanian Ministry of National Defence, LtC Valentina Ključarić and LtC Dragutin Tušek from the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies “Janko Bobetko” of the Croatian Defence Academy “Dr. Franjo Tuđman”, will provide invaluable insights and expertise in identifying problems and possible solutions while exploring the way ahead.

The event has gathered more than 20 participants, senior/junior military or civilian recommendation-makers dealing with CWC issues and/or those responsible for escorting inspections who will provide a short presentation on how their agencies ensure that dangerous chemicals don’t wind up in the wrong hands.

22 January 2018

Ninth Meeting of the C-WMD Network

The ninth meeting of the RACVIAC C-WMD Network national working/drafting groups titled „C-WMD National Strategies – Current Threat Environment & Cyber Elements of a C-WMD Strategy“ started on 22 January 2018.

RACVIAC has been organizing these meetings since 2015 with the continuous support from U.S European Command (USEUCOM), U.S. Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), the International Counterproliferation Program (ICP), European Union, and Republic of Croatia.

Opening the meeting RACVIAC Director Ambassador Haydar Berk said that based on the agreed Roadmap for the development of national strategies to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction the project is about to complete its drafting phase, which will be followed by a validation and testing period, and that he is pleased to see the progress made so far. Since each workshop covers the different aspects needed for developing National strategies RACVIAC is trying to gather experts in specific fields and lines of work to share their knowledge and experience. Thus, Ambassador Berk expressed a special welcome to the experts from INTERPOL, Frontex, and the World Health Organization.

Welcoming the participants on behalf of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia Mr Petar Mihatov, Assistant Minister for Defence Policy, said that SEE is facing different security threats: interethnic tensions, quasi nationalism, fragile state institutions, underdeveloped civil societies, corruption and organized crime, as well as contemporary security challenges such as migration. He continued by saying that the EU and NATO need to realize that a stable SEE is in their interest and that they need to engage more in the region. On the other hand SEE countries need to carry out the reforms and assume political responsibility to cope with the security challenges, he stressed.

LtC Charity Hartley from DTRA said that SEE is really setting the example for regional partnership in the WMD arena.

The event is divided into two parts. The first day is organized as a roundtable aimed to overview the current threat environment and its impact on SEE. In continuation the meeting will continue facilitating the development of national C-WMD Strategies and Action Plans focusing on cyber elements of a C-WMD Strategy, which will be the central theme of the event.

More than 60 participants, mostly members of the core national working/drafting groups and experts working on cyber issues, legal issues, and intelligence, are attending this four-day event.

18 January 2018

MAG POC Meeting held in RACVIAC

A Meeting of Point of Contacts of RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation Multinational Advisory Group was held on 18 January 2018, with the aim to coordinate and discuss details related to the activities planned in RACVIAC Programme 2018.

At the opening of the Meeting RACVIAC Director Ambassador Haydar Berk welcomed the representatives from Members, Associate members and participants saying that the Centre had an intensive 2017 having conducted 28 activities and 2018 also be a busy period. He pointed out that RACVIAC is determined to increase its efforts to foster security dialogue and cooperation in SEE in 2018 as well by focusing on contemporary security challenges, such as weapons of mass destruction, foreign terrorist fighters, cyber security, border security, and different aspects of arms control and security sector reform.

Following the introductory address by RACVIAC Director, RACVIAC Programme Managers Col Servet Aya, (Cooperative Security Environment with focus on Arms Control Pillar) and Ms Ana Ezhova Krzhaloska (International and Regional Cooperation with focus on Euroatlantic Integration Pillar), and Activity Manager Maj Božo Dukarić (Security Sector Reform Pillar) presented the Programme for 2018 within their respective Pillars and projection for 2019. Ms Ivana Barbara Blažević presented activities planned in the RACVIAC C-WMD Network project as well as its roadmap for the future.

Later on Major Jasminka Šoić, Chief of Administration and Finance Cell, provided information regarding the current financial situation while putting emphasis on the Programme part of the Budget 2018.

In continuation the meeting focused on a discussion regarding specific aspects of member countries’ and contributing partners’ participation related to the academic and financial support to activities. This opportunity was used to share information on possibilities of improving the quality and visibility of RACVIAC activities by upgrading the participant level and engagement. Furthermore, the current stage of ongoing preparations of jointly organized and hosted activities was consulted.

Closing the event Ambassador Berk thanked the Members, Associate members and participants representatives for all valuable contribution made to RACVIAC so far and added that the Centre counts on their active engagement and support.

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