30 November 2016
On Tuesday November29th, 2016, a seminar on Private (Military) Security Companies (P(M)SC)s: Regulating the Private Security Industry for the Public Good opened at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation. The seminar was conducted in cooperation with DCAF Geneva, the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy and academic associates from the universities of Zagreb, Belgrade and Sarajevo.
In his opening address RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Haydar Berk said that this is the fourth Seminar in a series of similar events, which has become a mid-term project for our Centre and the Security Sector Reform Pillar in particular, analysing the changes in Civil-Military Relations (CMR) and the effects of privatization in this field.
"In the last two decades we have witnessed a constant shift toward the privatization of military and security operations. Many functions that were traditionally performed by public authorities and national armies have increasingly been transferred to Private (Military) and Security Companies (P(M)SCs). Moreover, international bodies, transnational corporations and non-governmental organizations have also become clients of P(M)SCs", said Ambassador Berk. He added that "efforts have also been exerted in the international sphere to address the issues this development might create at the the national and supranational level, namely the introduction of the Montreux Document in 2008 and the establishment of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers; however, a lot has still to be done".
Ambassador Berk noted that as far as South East Europe is concerned, the reliance on P(M)SCs services is uneven in the region. The same thing can be said about the acceptance of international norms at the national level, or the development of national rules and laws regulating the field concerned. "What is needed right now, and we at RACVIAC envisage it as a feasible outcome of this Seminar, is to lay the foundation for a meaningful collaboration between the regulatory authorities of the states and the representatives of the private security sector, to introduce and subsequently implement regulations that adhere to international standards, in order to ensure the lawful and professional behaviour of the members of the P(M)SCs and a regulated public procurement of security services from the private sector", said Ambassador Berk.
During her opening address Ms Maja Čavlović, the Advisor to the President of the Republic of Croatia for Defence and National Security said that it is very important to have an international recognition and agreement on the issue of regulating the behaviour of PMSCs. Already now the scope of the services they offer: from participating in combat operations, training, logistical support, consulting, intelligence capabilities and providing security are broad and in very high demand. It is likely that the demand for their services will only rise. This is why we have to make an international collaborative effort in order to provide protection to the civilian population, satisfy the demands of our military and police forces and set the appropriate rights and obligations for the employees of the PMSCs.
The purpose of the Seminar was to support the implementation of international legislation on regulating the P(M)SCs. As recommended in the OSCE Code of Conduct, the aim was to include special information regarding the contracting/outsourcing of private military and security services (P(M)SCs) and the respective legal status of such personnel. The main objectives of the Seminar were to promote international standards and give impetus to more effective regulation of P(M)SCs on the state level.
23 November 2016
On November 22nd, 2016, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Croatia to the OSCE, UN and International Organizations in Vienna organized a panel discussion on the issue “Women, Peace and Security”. Ambassador Dubravka Plejić Marković invited NATO Secretary General Special Representative for WPS, Ambassador Marriët Schuurman and RACVIAC-Centre for Security Cooperation Deputy Director, BG Gordana Garašić as panellists. Discussion was held in the NATO Caucus format in order to exchange views and best practices in the area of integration of gender perspective in the security sector.
In spite of the institutional efforts that NATO undertakes through NATO/EAPC Policy for the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and the Action Plan, there are still barriers for women’s meaningful participation in the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts and in peace-building. There are a number of opportunities for cooperation between the OSCE and NATO on this issue that will be explored.
RACVIAC’s activities on the implementation of UNSCR 1325 were introduced, and the benefits that the region of South East Europe can have from lessons learned, nationally or from peace support operations.
Some of the conclusions of this informal session included: Leadership’s commitment is needed; cooperation and information exchange with civil society; pre-deployment training of all personnel; we should deploy more women in peace support operations at all levels; more appointments of women to decision-making positions (creating a critical mass), and gender perspective should be integrated in routine, daily business and become “the new norm”.
23 November 2016
On Wednesday November 23rd, 2016, a conference titled Foreign Terrorist Fighters – Challenges for South Eastern Europe: An Integrative and Complementary Approach to Counter – Terrorism and Violent Extremism began at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation. The event is being organized in Cooperation with the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and with the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is a follow up event to the Conference on Foreign Terrorist Fighters held in October 2015 in Sarajevo Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In his opening address, RACVIAC Director Ambassador Haydar Berk said that we first began to hear the news about so-called “Foreign Fighters” in 2012, indicating those who have left their countries to fight in Syria or Iraq. The adoption of Security Council Resolution 2178 (2014), at a high-level meeting of the Security Council in September 2014 brought the issue of Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) to the forefront of the international agenda.
He went on to say that in fact, what we are facing is not a new type of threat, but another face of terrorism. And, the only way to cope with terrorism is closer cooperation between the states. In other words, the international community should act as a united front against all forms of terrorism. There could be no justification for terrorism, and that the fight against terrorism cannot be selective. We need to work together against any form of terrorism and any terrorist organization, without exception. We should also avoid using religious attributions or adjectives, as terrorism has no religion, ethnicity or nationality. This is important not to play into the hands of terrorist organizations.
The European Union has developed a strategy against this threat, RACVIAC also has a role in the Counter Terrorism initiative of the European Union. Applying security and legal measures are and will not be enough to cope with this challenge. Short and long-term rehabilitation and reintegration programs for those individuals who have been identified and prosecuted as FTF, which also requires close cooperation with their families. Development and adoption of such programs, based on the positive experience, will be one of the main goals of our future activities in this area, said Ambassador Berk.
Addressing the participants RCC Secretary General Mr Goran Svilanović said "Radicalization, violent extremism, terrorism and foreign terrorist fighters – all these connected problems are not new. In the last couple of years, South East Europe and Europe as a whole are facing increased levels of these security threats."
"These challenges prompted a greater attention to security and rule of law at the national and regional levels, calling for an enhanced cooperation. As an all-inclusive, regionally-owned and driven cooperation framework, the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) continues to pursue its mandated mission. As a part of it, we recently put a new emphasis on the area of Stability and the Rule of Law, and refocused our activities in Security cooperation. At the same time, we continue to coordinate and support the SEE initiatives and task forces for a better response to the region’s needs. This event, which is result of cooperation between RACVIAC, the RCC, and the OSCE Mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina is proof of a practical answer to a pressing need for deeper and more pragmatic, results-oriented cooperation and coordination in counter-terrorism, prevention and countering of violent extremism in South East Europe."
Mr Svilanović also informed the participants of a number of efforts being conducted under the Regional Platform for Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism Leading to Terrorism established by RCC. In conclusion he noted that „I dare say that this conference represents a significant step forward in regional security cooperation in SEE. „
In the final opening address Mr Paul Martin, the Acting Head of the Security Cooperation Unit at the OSCE Mission to Bosnia Herzegovina, noted that a great deal has changed in the few short years since the challenge of Foreign Terrorist Fighters to the security of the region appeared, not to mention the past twelve months since the last conference in Sarajevo. He noted that many states were unprepared for the scale and momentum of this problem. Bosnia and Herzegovina was among the first in the region to respond with tough legislation introduced in 2014 making the joining of overseas paramilitary and para-police formations or supporting foreign terrorist fighters illegal. More effective intelligence acquisition, investigations and prosecutions helped to bring those who support terrorism to justice, and to perhaps deter those who would consider doing so. But until deterrent sentences and segregated prisons are the norm, legislation and enforcement alone will not be enough.
Mr Martin said that the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina supported these actions, but also recognized that they were only a part of the solution. To see a long term decrease in the number of people volunteering as FTF, the prevention of radicalization and extremism has to begin much earlier than when individuals try to board a plane or a bus. He added that their approach emphasizes the power of family and community-based support networks for those at risk of becoming radicalised. “Parents, friends, teachers, colleagues, religious leaders – all have an essential role to play. Being a security actor in today’s world doesn’t have to mean wearing a uniform or working in a state agency.
Over the course of the conference participants will participate in panel discussions aimed at addressing possible solutions and best practices in border management with a focus on identifying possible FTF on their way to and from war zones as well as identifying possible ways and means to establish adequate short and long-term rehabilitation and reintegration programs or those individuals who have been identified and prosecuted as FTF.
On Tuesday November 22nd, 2016, the Inter-Ministerial Working Group (IMWG) of Bosnia and Herzegovina visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation in conjunction with the conference on Foreign Terrorist Fighters. RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Haydar Berk, and members of the RACVIAC staff informed the IMWG of activities being conducted by RACVIAC, in particular within the main projects being implemented by RACVIAC’s three pillars and the C-WMD Network. Various aspects of possible future cooperation were discussed and it was agreed that RACVIAC could provide assistance to the IMWG through the provision of expertise in several fields.
16 November 2016
On Wednesday November 16th, 2016, the French Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia H.E. Corinne Meunier and H.E. Philippe Meunier visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation. The Ambassadors met with RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Haydar Berk and Deputy Director Brigadier General Gordana Garašić.
Following a short briefing on the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, Ambassador Berk informed the guests about the current state of affairs at RACVIAC. Topics of discussion included programme development and implementation as well as the main projects being conducted at RACVIAC.
Ambassador Meunier thanked her hosts for receiving the French delegation and recalled that she had participated in a few MAG meetings in the first few years after RACVIAC's establishment. She said that she was glad to see that RACVIAC had succeeded in its initial mission and that efforts were made to capitalize on this success.
15 November 2016
A seminar on the implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions began at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Tuesday November 15th, 2016. The event is being organized in cooperation with the Government Office for Mine Action of the republic of Croatia.
The Convention on Cluster Munitions was opened for signature in Oslo, Kingdom of Norway, on 2 December 2008. By February 2010, 30 ratification procedures that were required were completed and the Convention entered into force on 1 August 2010, thereby becoming an international legally binding document.
RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Haydar berk addressed the participants at the beginning of the event noting that the issue of cluster munitions is a matter of serious concern not only for the South East European region but the whole world as well. Countries and international organizations have addressed this issue several times, making sincere efforts to eliminate the threat.
Among the distinguished guests and lecturers present were HE Ellen Berends, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Republic of Croatia, HE Susan Cox Ambassador of Australia to the Republic of Croatia, HE Ambassador Henk Cor van der Kwast the Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the Conference on Disarmament, Disarmament Ambassador at large; Permanent Representation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (Geneva), HE Olive Hempenstall Ambassador of Ireland to the Republic of Croatia and Mr Hrvoje Debač the acting Director of the Government Office for Mine Action in Croatia.
The objectives of the Seminar are: To provide the participants with an overview of the First Review Conference of the Convention on Cluster Munitions held in Dubrovnik, Republic of Croatia, on 7-11 September 2015; To inform the participants about the results of the Sixth Meeting of States Parties (6MSP) to the Convention on Cluster Munitions which took place in Geneva, Switzerland from 5 to 7 September 2016: and to provide a forum for discussion on the implementation of the Convention in SouthEasternEurope with a focus on the progress made in the destruction of stockpiled cluster munitions, the need for broader universalization efforts, particularly in the light of continued use of cluster munitions in armed conflicts and, finally, to emphasize the overall commitment to implement the Dubrovnik Action Plan in the next five years with a special focus on international and regional cooperation and needs for support from outside the region.
08 November 2016
The purpose of the event is to build on the experience of last year’s Symposium and to present the latest developments in Arms Control, with the aim to open up new perspectives on confidence-building measures for peace and stability in Europe. The idea is to bring together all relevant players coming from the "Arms control family" and give them the opportunity to discuss and share ideas on the future of arms control in Europe and the region. An important element of its overall aims is the updating of any relevant information regarding Arms Control issues and to discuss the way ahead. The aim is also to organize a parallel meeting of the Heads of Verification Centres of the SEE region.
In his opening address RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Haydar Berk, emphasized that RACVIAC is very proud to be able to provide the platform for constructive dialogue and close cooperation. He added that we have repeatedly stated, a regional approach to security issues is a crucial element of peace and stability in the region and beyond. „It will also serve as an excellent tool for increasing cooperation, openness and transparency amongst our countries“, said Ambassador Berk.
Addressing the participants Mr. Marcus Bleinroth, the Head of Unit of Conventional Arms Control at the German Federal Foreign Office thanked RACVIAC- Centre for Security Cooperation for the invitation and for hosting the event adding that the Arms Control Symposium is a uniquely suited forum to discuss current issues in the area of arms control.
Mr. Bleinroth underlined three issues: Recent German activities in the area of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) where he noted that Germany is actively promoting a Global Alliance against SALW proliferation; the German initiative for a relaunch of conventional arms control in Europe as a means of risk-reduction, transparency and confidence-building; and Germany's presidency of the Convention of Cluster Munitions which began in September, noting that within just a few years 100 states parties to the convention have been reached and that they have set themselves the goal to reach 130 states parties by 2020.
03 November 2016
A seminar under RACVIAC's Basics of Security Sector Reform (SSR) series titled SSR and International Organizations began at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Thursday November 3rd, 2016. The event is being organized in cooperation with the Austrian Ministry of Defence and Sports, the OSCE, the UNDP and the George C. Marshall Centre.
The reform of the security sector has become one of the major topics of international concern regarding crisis management and post-conflict recovery during the last decade. The focus on traditional security actors has been complemented by a more comprehensive view on human security bringing physical, social and economic security and safety of individuals to the centre of attention.
The seminar is designed to introduce participants with existing SSR outlines within UN, OSCE, OECD, EU and NATO frameworks, and thus provide a unique comparative analysis of the subject matter within slightly different contexts. The aim is to point out specific solutions when it comes to required basic SSR processes. Participants will be provided with an overview of the concepts, principles and strategies for SSR and will learn about the approaches of international organizations, familiarizing themselves with SSR through case studies and best practices.
In his opening address RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Haydar Berk noted that the United Nations, defines Security Sector Reform as a “process of assessment, review and implementation as well as monitoring and evaluation led by national authorities, that has as its goal the enhancement of effective and accountable security for the state and its peoples, without discrimination and with full respect for human rights and the rule of law”. He added that, together with the states, international organizations have assumed increasingly relevant responsibilities in SSR agenda setting and development. It should also be always taken into account the fact that reform of the security sector must be a nationally owned process, it can only be assisted and not implemented from outside; thus the role of supranational organizations should be focused on assistance in the democratic transformation of the security sector, initiated and developed by the State. Only through cooperation among different bodies, and respecting the limits of involvement, an effective and responsible reform can be envisaged in this sector.
Over the course of the event participants will hear a combination of lectures and national presentations and engage in group discussions within three panels: Concepts, Principles and Strategies for SSR; SSR and International Organisations’ Approaches; National Experiences in Implementing SSR.
26 October 2016
H.E. Park Won-sup, the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Croatia visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Tuesday October 25th, 2016. This visit was the Ambassador's first to RACVIAC and provided him with an opportunity to gain information on the functioning of the Centre and the work it does.
The meeting began with a RACVIAC briefing in which Ambassador Won-sup was provided with information regarding the Centre, its mission and activities, manner of financing and main areas of interest within the RACVIAC Pillars, which are reflected in the projects being implemented through the 2017 Programme.
During the discussion RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Haydar Berk, provided the guest with additional details regarding the Centre and its projects while security issues affecting South East Europe were also discussed.
Signing the RACVIAC’s guest book Ambassador Won-sup wrote: "I am very pleased to pay a visit to the Centre for Security Cooperation with a view to starting contacts and cooperation between the Embassy of the Republic of Korea and the Centre."
25 October 2016
On Monday October 24th, 2016, the RACVIAC – Centre for Security cooperation was visited by Dr. Ivan Gojmerac from the Austrian Institute of Technology, Dr Elisabeth Pergler and Dr Helmut Aschbacher from the FH Campus 02 of the University of Applied Sciences in Graz Austria, Mr Josef Binder of the Binder company and Dr. Maja Matijašević from the University of Zagreb Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing.
The delegation was provided with a briefing on the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation in which they were informed on the functioning of the Centre as well as its Programme development. Dr Gojmerac provided the RACVIAC staff with a presentation on the Austrian Institute of Technology and research and development they conduct aimed at contributing to the advancement of industry and security.
During discussion following the presentations areas of possible cooperation were discussed including possible collaboration in projects funded by the EU.
During the afternoon the delegation from Austria and members of the RACVIAC staff, headed by Deputy Director Brigadier General Gordana Garašić visited the Zagreb University Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing. Members of the Faculty presented research projects they are currently conducting. Three laboratories were also presented dealing in underwater systems and technologies, robotics and computer technology related to open source cloud solutions for the Internet of Things.
The visit was the first opportunity for RACVIAC staff to visit the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing which has provided lecturers for several events organized by the Centre. Furthermore, it provided an interesting insight into manners in which the academic community can contribute to enhancing security through applied sciences, research and development.
20 October 2016
The South-Eastern Europe Defence Ministerial meeting was held in Rome on 18 October 2016. RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation Director, Ambassador Haydar Berk, attended the meeting under RACVIAC’s Observer status with the SEDM process. The Ministers took up the developments in the SEDM process and reviewed the current challenges in the region. The Ministers, in their Joint Statement, welcomed the efforts of the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation as an important international organization in the SEE Region dealing with security issues, playing a leading role in the areas of confidence and security building measures, security cooperation and counter terrorism efforts. They stated to further promote and support the activities organized by RACVIAC with the aim to enhance the security dialogue in the SEE region.
19 October 2016
The Cyber Security project at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation continued with a new event that opened on Monday October 17th, 2016, titled Building a Cyber Resilient Society in South Eastern Europe – Advanced Training Course. The course is the result of a workshop held in April 2016, where, in cooperation with the General Mihajlo Apostolki Military Academy, Skoplje, experts from the South East European region gathered to develop an advanced training course programme that was tailored to the needs of the individual countries.
In his opening address, RACVIAC Director Ambassador Haydar Berk highlighted that the activity is supported by the NATO SPS Programme and partially sponsored by the Federal Republic of Germany at the same time welcoming the defence attache of the Federal Republic of Germany, Lieutenant Colonel Januz Kaschta.
He noted that RACVIAC has given high priority to this field and it will continue as one of the main focuses of interst for RACVIAC, having in mind its topicality not only in the South East European region, but globally as well.
Ambassador Berk noted that the close regional cooperation among South East European countries through dialogue and various forms of cooperation, is a strong response to today's challenges to international security and defence policy, leading to the building of confidence and security among the countries and development of synergy among the activity participants. "These Cyber Security activities are fully dedicated to overcoming the common contemporary security challenges and threats", said Ambassador Berk.
Over the course of the event participants heard a series of lectures and discussion related to various aspects of Cyber Security.
14 October 2016
On Thursday October 13th, 2016 the 36th meeting of the Multinational Advisory Group (MAG), RACVIAC's steering committee, was held at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation under the chairmanship of Brigadier General Nazmi Cahani, Land Force Commander of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Albania.
In his opening address to the members, associate members and observers, RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Haydar Berk presented his Interim report providing the participants with information regarding the work of the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation in the first eight months of the year. He said that it was a good period in terms of our activities as well as our financial situation. "We continued to build on, strengthening the achievements of my predecessors. Despite some hurdles, we were able to stabilize our budget as much as possible, thanks to timely transfer of membership contributions, partner countries’ financial support to our program, additional project based resources and serious saving measures. We elevated the quality of our workshops and increased our connectivity."
Ambassador Berk thanked all MAG countries, international organizations, other participants and partners for outstanding support and cooperation during the last year and invited them all to continue to support RACVIAC in the following years. He underlined the importance of the ownership of the organization and suggested that members keep in mind the role to be played by RACVIAC in South East Europe in regards to international security initiatives.
Over the course of the meeting participants also heard presentations by the Programme Managers from each of RACVIAC's pillars and the C-WMD Network Leader, who provided them with more detailed information regarding activities conducted so far in 2016 and the planned programme of activities for 2017. This was followed by a report from the Chief of Admin and Finance who gave an overview of budget realization for the year and a presentation on personnel by Deputy Director Brigadier General Gordana Garašić.
At the end of the meeting the MAG adopted the programme and budget for 2017, elected a new chairperson, Ambassador Branimir Mandić from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina and expressed its gratitude for the excellent job done by Brigadier General Nazmi Cahani during his MAG Chairmanship.
03 October 2016
From September 26th to 28th 2016, the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, in cooperation with Austrian Authorities, organized a Field Study Trip on Flood Prevention and Protection Systems in Lower Austria. In 2014 and 2015, RACVIAC in cooperation with its bilateral partners and international organizations organized events on flood related topics in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Belgrade, Republic of Serbia. The conclusions from both events emphasized the necessity for closer and more effective regional collaboration in controlling and protecting against floods in the light of the EU Floods Directive. Therefore, it is of key importance to protect against the vulnerability of river flow infrastructure by joint preventive measures and flood readiness.
The event lasted for 3 working days, and it was a combination of theoretical presentations and practical demonstrations of flood prevention systems. It was held in the Fire Brigade School in Tulln, where the participants started their activities with a walkthrough visit to the Fire Brigade School training facilities. The next day included a series of presentations aimed at introducing participants to the different organizational aspects of key elements of the disaster relief system in Lower Austria, with an emphasis on flood prevention and protection. Furthermore, participants had the opportunity to learn about the practical and effective use of the "mobile" flood protection system and how it is used. They then visited the City of Mautern, where they viewed an annual exercise on utilization of the mobile flood protection system along the Danube River, the City of Krems, viewing the torrent and avalanche protection system, and finally the City of Dross, viewing the decentralized artificial water storage basins.
During the last day of the event, participants had an opportunity to visit the National Response Centre in the Ministry of Interior in Vienna and to observe how the entire disaster relief system is integrated at the state level.
21 September 2016
On Wednesday September 21st, 2016, the U.S Ambassador to Croatia, H.E. Julieta Valls Noyes visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation to attend the closing of the C-WMD Network which began on September 19th, 2016. The event was planned and executed with the support of the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM), U.S. Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), and the Republic of Croatia Ministry of Defence.
In his closing address RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Haydar Berk, noted that the overall objective of the three year process is enhancing cooperation and security against WMD proliferation within SEE. Through this process a C-WMD network is to be formed and by 2018, the process of strategy development by the countries involved will be completed. He went on to say that this will be followed by implementation and coordination which may prove to be an even more difficult task.
Addressing the participants Ambassador Noyes said that "protecting our citizens is the most basic responsibility of each of our governments. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction - weapons that can pose enormous consequences not only to one nation but to entire regions - is one of the greatest threats facing us today. Countering this threat requires comprehensive and coordinated national and international responses". Noting the complexity of borders in Europe and the emergence of asymmetric threats, she added that "this is why your work here this week, and continued collaboration upon your return to your countries, is so important to the entire region".
In conclusion Ambassador Noyes pointed out that "this cooperation could not have taken place without leadership from the Republic of Croatia and RACVIAC". She thanked RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Berk and Deputy Director, Brigadier General Garašić for their leadership and efforts noting that RACVIAC’s efforts are making a difference in the region.
Following the closing session of the C-WMD Network event, in the company of LTC Matthew Denny, Chief of the Office for Defence Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy, Ambassador Noyes paid an office call to RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Haydar Berk and Deputy Director, BG Gordana Garašić.
19 September 2016
Based on the agreed Roadmap for the development of national strategies to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, building upon previous meetings and in light of new challenges concerning border security, the C-WMD Network in RACVIAC organized the fifth meeting of the national working / drafting groups which began on September 19th, 2016.
RACVIAC welcomes the continuous support from U.S. European Command (USEUCOM), U.S. Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), and the Republic of Croatia in the planning and execution of this activity.
In his opening address RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Haydar Berk, said that “On behalf of RACVIAC and the whole team of experts I would like to remind you that we are here to support you not only during these Workshops but also throughout the year. One of the objectives of this Project is also to create a Network of people responsible for C-WMD topics in their country. When I see a lot of familiar faces here I can say that we have succeeded in this goal as well.”
Croatian Assistant Minister of Defence, Mr. Nikola Brzica noted that “the fast-changing nature of security challenges has fundamentally transformed the very fabric of our security environment. The spectrum of challenges and threats that we face not only encompasses those familiar to us, like nuclear weapons, but also new and emerging threats, ranging from foreign fighters to mass migration and climate change”.
Mr. Brzica went on to encourage all “to maintain strong political momentum to enhance our further cooperation in order to achieve the harmonization of our individual efforts that will enable us to develop and strengthen adequate capabilities to anticipate, detect, and disrupt those threats”.
In conclusion Mr. Brzica assured all that the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia will make every effort to support further cooperation in this field.
The activity will last 4 working days, and will consist of presentations, panel discussions, a table-top exercise in smaller breakout groups, and a round table discussion.
15 September 2016
On Thursday September 15th, 2016, Mr. Paul Martin the acting Head of the Security Co-operation Unit at the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation in the company of project officer Mr. Samir Bašić.
The guests were greeted by RACVIAC Deputy Director, Brigadier General Gordana Garašić, and members of the RACVIAC staff. Following a brief introduction Mr. Martin was given a briefing on the RACVIAC – Centre for Security cooperation which was followed by a presentation of work being conducted by RACVIAC's three pillars.
RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Haydar Berk, joined the meeting to discuss possible future cooperation between the two organizations where it was agreed that synergy between international organizations can have a mutually beneficial effect in terms of efficient use of budgetary funds and overall outreach.
Following a more detailed discussion on cooperation regarding individual projects the delegation from the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina was given a tour of the RACVIAC facilities.
In November 2014, RACVIAC and the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina cooperated to conduct a regional conference on "Floods in South East Europe - Lessons Learned and Ways Ahead" and then again in October 2015 to organize a conference on "UN Resolution 2178/14 Dealing with the Problem of Foreign Terrorist Fighters".
13 September 2016
On Tuesday September 13th, 2016, Director of RACVIAC- Centre for Security Cooperation, Ambassador Haydar Berk together with BG Gordana Garašić, Deputy Director of RACVIAC visited General Mirko Šundov, Chief of the General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces. RA Robert Hranj, Director of the General Staff of the CAF and Col Branko Tubić, Deputy Head J5, General Staff of the CAF also attended the meeting.
The meeting focused on exchange of information on future activities of RACVIAC. Ambassador Berk thanked to General Šundov for the invaluable support of the CAF. It was agreed that there are possibilities for further strengthening RACVIAC’s cooperation with the CAF, especially with the Croatian Defence Academy.
12 September 2016
A workshop titled Nuclear Security Detection Architecture began at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Monday September 12th, 2016. The event is being organized in cooperation with the The United States Department of Homeland Security, Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, the United States European Command and the Republic of Croatia.
Countering weapons of mass destruction encompasses a wide variety of issues amongst which lies the unavoidable question of nuclear security. The C-WMD Network is launching a series of five workshops promoting nuclear security detection architecture principles and concepts to raise awareness and provide partner nations with the knowledge and tools to develop, implement, and sustain indigenous national-level detection capabilities.
The purpose of this first Workshop is to raise awareness of NSDA principles, terms, and concepts to establish a foundation for nuclear security coordination and NSDA development. The objective is to build nuclear security detection architecture awareness and enable partners to begin the process of strategy development, including identifying competent authorities, establishing a coordinating mechanism, and conducting a national inventory of detection capabilities.
In his opening address RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Haydar Berk, thanked all partners that took part in the organization of the event and welcome all experts participating. He noted that "this event is closely tied to our National Strategy development workshops and the intention is that both activities in the end give all the information, support and assistance for the countries in the Region to adequately counter WMD threats".
Addressing the participants Mr. Amir Muharemi, Croatian Assistant Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, noted that "this event confirms the crucial role of RACVIAC as a recognizable forum that promotes security dialogue and facilitates coordination and cooperation, both at the regional and international levels". He added that "Croatia has taken an active and responsible approach to international cooperation. As a country that neither possesses nor develops WMDs, Croatia is a party to all global treaties on non-proliferation. We are determined to foster regional initiatives in this area and our position is that all South-East European countries should be involved in regional efforts."
The Workshop is planned to last five working days and will consist of lectures, table top exercises, and the use of various tools and templates to facilitate practical application of the concepts discussed.
01 September 2016
On Thursday September 1st, 2016, Mr. Pjer Šimunović the Head of the Office of the Croatian National Security Council visited the Director of the RACVIAC- Centre for Security Cooperation, Ambassador Haydar Berk. Dr sc Aleksandar Klaić, Assistant of the Head of the Office of the Croatian National Security Council and Deputy Director of RACVIAC, BG Gordana Garašić also attended the meeting.
The meeting focused on possible future opportunities for cooperation on security matters of mutual interest. Since harmonization and the implementation of information security measures and standards is closely connected to cyber security and other security threats, interest was expressed in establishing a structured relationship that all members can benefit from. It was noted that the Office of the Croatian National Security Council has the expertise and lessons learned from the Croatian process of Euro-Atlantic and European integration and they are already providing advice to RACVIAC member countries on their path to European integration. It was also concluded that using RACVIAC as a platform for further exchange of information and lessons learned can only strengthen the entire process.
01 September 2016
On Thursday September 1st, 2016, Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Denny, Chief of the Office of Defence Cooperation at the US Embassy visited the Deputy Director of the RACVIAC- Centre for Security Cooperation, BG Gordana Garašić. The meeting focused on future opportunities for cooperation and possible US support.
Common areas of interest were discussed, such as C-WMD, where cooperation has already been established. Furthermore, cyber security, challenges connected to foreign terrorist fighters or border security management, were mentioned as some of the contemporary challenges that South East Europe is facing. It was concluded that RACVIAC, as a vehicle for fostering dialogue on security matters, constitutes the right platform for dialogue and cooperation.
30 August 2016
On Tuesday August 30th, 2016, Mr Amir Muharemi the Assistant Minister of Foreign and European Affairs in the Republic of Croatia and Mr Nikola Brzica the Assistant Minister of Defence in the Republic of Croatia, visited the RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation. The two assistant ministers began their visit with an office call in the office of RACVIAC Director Ambassador Haydar Berk.
The second part of the visit consisted of a meeting with RACVIAC staff members at which the assistant ministers were informed of the state of affairs at RACVIAC in terms of programme implementation and development as well as budget realization. The project oriented approach to RACVIAC programme activities was reflected in the presentation where the assistant ministers gained information on several of RACVIAC’s main projects that include: Energy Security, Cyber Security, Defence Resources Management and Gender Perspectives in Security Sector Reform.
It was also noted that RACVIAC continues to fulfil its original arms control implementation assistance role with several training courses and education activities that include: a “Chemical Weapons Convention Seminar”, a “Vienna Document – 2011 – Compliance and Verification Course”, and an “Orientation Course on the Agreement on Sub-Regional Arms Control (Dayton Article IV)”.
Commenting on the development of RACVIAC's programme, Ambassador Berk noted that RACVIAC takes into account the desires and requests of its member countries as well as contemporary challenges when planning its programme.
Both of the assistant ministers Assistant Ministers expressed strong support for the role of RACVIAC and its mission to foster dialogue and cooperation on security matter in South East Europe.
The meeting ended with a tour of the RACVIAC facilities.
04 July 2016
The Vienna Document 2011 Orientation Course took place in Budapest Hungary between 26 June-1 July 2016. The course began with the opening speech of Ambassador Haydar Berk, Director of RACVIAC. The event is being organized by the RACVIAC – Centre for Security cooperation and hosted and sponsored by Hungary.
In order to facilitate the implementation of the provisions of the Vienna Document, RACVIAC has been organizing Vienna Document courses for the countries of the South East European region since 2001. At the 28th MAG Meeting, Hungary suggested that RACVIAC organize a Vienna Document 2011 Formation/Unit Commanders’ Course on the territory of Hungary, as its contribution to the regional Confidence- and Security-Building Measures (CSBMs).
The activity also involved the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Hungarian Arms Control.
The purpose of this course was to provide participants with a theoretical overview of the Vienna Document 2011 (VD ’11), providing a comprehensive analysis of both the theoretical and practical level of the implementation of these activities.
During the event participants heard various lectures covering numerous aspects of the Vienna Document 2011 and its implementation. Participants later engaged in an exercise at a military base in Hungary.
On the margins of the course, Ambassador Berk paid a courtesy call to Mr. Peter Siklosi, Deputy State Secretary for Defence Policy and Planning in the Hungarian MOD. Ambassador Berk expressed thanks for Hungary hosting this event and took up further strengthening of cooperation between RACVIAC and Hungary.
16 June 2016
A delegation from the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation lead by Director Ambassador Haydar Berk attended a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Agreement on Sub-Regional Arms Control which was held in Vienna, Austria on June 16th, 2016.
At the ceremony the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation was presented with an award for its valuable contribution to the Agreement. RACVIAC has been organizing a Dayton Article IV - Agreement on Sub-Regional Arms Control orientation course since 2001. Awards were presented to individuals, organizations and countries that have supported the Agreement from its inception.
08 June 2016
A seminar on Energy Security: The Regional Dimension and the Need for Diversification began at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Wednesday June 8th, 2016. The event is being organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania and supported by the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Croatia. It is a follow up to the regional Conference on Energy Security held in Bucharest in 2015, with an aim to extend the regional dialogue on energy security.
In his opening address RACVIAC Director Ambassador Haydar Berk welcomed the Ambassador of Romania to the Republic of Croatia, H.E. Cosmin George Dinescu and Ms. Kristina Celic from the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Croatia. He noted that objective of the seminar is to promote a transparent dialogue on energy security and to focus on the challenges, risks and threats to energy security and to commonly assess issues related to critical energy infrastructure protection.
Over the course of the seminar participants will hear lectures and presentations in two sessions dedicated to: Energy security - Building synergies between outreach strategies and regional development; and Ensuring the integrity of energy infrastructure-regulations and physical vulnerability.
The second day of the seminar will be dedicated to a working visit to the LNG terminal on the island of Krk.
02 June 2016
RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Haydar Berk attended the 11th Annual Ministerial Review Conference on Cooperation in the Field of Border Security in SEE held in Jahorina, Bosnia and Herzegovina on 31st May and 1st June 2016. The conference was organized jointly by the Ministry of Security of BA and the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF).
The Conference was opened by the address of the BA Minister of Security H.E. Mr. Dragan Mektic followed by the representative of the European Union. The event consisted of three panels: DCAF Border Security Programme: Results and achievements, Regional Cooperation in the area of border security: Lessons Learned and Facing newly occurring challenges and Remaining needs and future strategic direction.
Ambassador Berk, during his intervention, briefly introduced RACVIAC and gave information regarding those RACVIAC activities focusing on cooperation in the fields of Counter – Terrorism, Border Security in South-east Europe, mainly border management and border security; foreign terrorist fighters – implementation of the UNSCR 2178; nuclear security detection architecture awareness; C-WMD project; chemical weapons and cyber security. He underlined that RACVIAC is prepared to play an active role in the implementation of an integrated action plan on border security.
The respected Ministers of DCAF Beneficiaries used the opportunity to sign multi-lateral agreements developed by their experts under the auspices of the BPS, related to the use of the Border Sentry application for statistical data and early warning messages and to Joint Return Flights to extra-territorial countries of origin. At the end of the Conference, the Ministers signed the Jahorina Declaration.
Over the course of the Conference, Ambassador Berk realized contacts with the present delegations from BA, MK, HR, AL, RS, ME as well as representatives from DCAF, EU, WBCTi, and informed them about the mission and the programmed activities of the Centre, which are covering various security challenges affecting the SEE region, and of cooperation possibilities
19 May 2016
On May 17th, 2016, the Director of the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, Ambassador Haydar Berk paid a courtesy visits to H.E. Mr. Igor Crnadak, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and to H.E. Ms. Marina Pendeš Minister of Defence in Sarajevo. He was accompanied by Lt.Col. Josip Mlakić, Activity Manager of the RACVIAC IRC Pillar.
During his visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Igor Crnadak, informed Ambassador Berk of Bosnia and Herzegovina's path toward the European Union (EU) and NATO membership, noting that he expects the country to receive EU candidate status in 2017. The foreign minister also noted that Bosnia and Herzegovina is prepared to continue cooperation with NATO.
Minister Crnadak underlined that Bosnia and Herzegovina wishes to further strengthen cooperation with RACVIAC and is open to ideas regarding activities and projects to be implemented at the Centre. Ambassador Berk informed the minister regarding future projects to be implemented at RACVIAC and thanked Bosnia and Herzegovina for its continued strong support.
During his visit to the Ministry of Defence, H.E. Ms. Marina Pendeš informed Ambassador Berk that Bosnia and Herzegovina sees Euro-Atlantic integrations as one of their main foreign policy goals and said that for her country activation of the Membership Action Plan (MAP) for NATO is of utmost importance. She expressed support of the Ministry of Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, thanking Ambassador Berk for the Centre's cooperation. Assistant Minister for International Cooperation Zoran Šajinović was also present at the meeting.
Ambassador Berk also thanked the Minister for their strong support and presence at RACVIAC. He briefly presented the RACVIAC program emphasizing the focus of seminars and workshops planned for this year as well as their significance. Ambassador Berk said that he supports improved cooperation between Bosnia and Herzegovina and NATO adding that he considers it significant for activation of the MAP for Bosnia and Herzegovina as soon as possible.
During his stay in Sarajevo Ambassador Berk also visited the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) where he met with Secretary General Goran Svilanović with whom he took up possible areas of future cooperation between RCC and RACVIAC.
18 May 2016
The Gender Training of the Trainers (GToT) Course began at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Wednesday May 18th, 2016. The event is being organized in cooperation with the Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations - Swedish Armed Forces, and the Croatian Armed Forces.
The importance of the Gender aspect in Military operations had prompted NATO, as well as other national and multinational defence organisations to address, regulate and implement the Gender issue, both on the duty level and on the level of participation in Peace Support Operations (PSO). According to the Review of the Practical Implications of UNSCR 1325 for the Conduct of NATO-led Operations and Missions (2013) a very important recommendation to NATO and all current and future Operational Partner nations is to "train trainers on UNSCR 1325 and gender mainstreaming, with the objective of supporting on-the-job training.
In his opening speech RACVIAC Program Manager for Security Sector Reform, Mr. Ivan Hostnik M.Sc. said "three years ago, the newly established partnership between RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation, the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia and the Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations as a key proponent, resulted in a successful introduction of this activity, which was at that time covering a brand new field of interest for RACVIAC and its members. Today, we are witnessing not only the continuation of our joint effort, but also broadening it with our new partner UNDP SEESAC and thus, recognizing the significance of this subject especially in the case of the South-Eastern European region."
In her opening address Brigadier General Gordana Garašić, from the office of the president of the Republic of Croatia said "There is no development without security and there is no real security without justice and human rights, role of law and good governance. No society can succeed and develop if 50% of the population is not included, not given the opportunity to engage (starting from the economy, society and education to the security sector). It is especially important that our security institutions and armed forces, as the security providers, and a mirror of society, show by example what we mean by establishing the equal opportunity principle as the principle and value that is worth fighting for."
LtC Grethe Stensland from the Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations also addressed the participants saying that she was happy to see so many nations represented at this course which is being held for a third time. She noted that there is progress happening in the field citing several examples. In conclusion she wished everyone success at the course.
The 10-day course prepares instructors and trainers to plan and conduct pre-deployment training and education for troops, units and officers on gender perspectives in military operations. The course content is applicable in both national and international training and education for armed forces and defence organizations and will provide the participants with knowledge on how to integrate the gender perspective in mission specific training as well as national basic training. The course will prepare instructors and trainers to plan and conduct effective and efficient training on how to integrate the gender perspective in military operations within the trainers' respective field of experience.
17 May 2016
The Seminar on Physical Security and Stockpile Management (PSSM) began at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Tuesday May 17th, 2016. The event is being organized in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Defence and Sports of the Republic of Austria and is a follow up to the workshop held in 2015 that dealt with experiences and pressing issues in PSSM. The purpose of the seminar is to discuss the possibilities of potential cooperation with the purpose of improving managerial, systematic and infrastructural aspects of PSSM.
In his opening speech, RACVIAC Programme manager for the Cooperative Security Environment, Colonel Muharrem Gulcan, said that the safe storage and disposal of surplus and ageing weapons and munitions is a matter of serious concern for the South East European region. Countries and international organizations have addressed this issue several times, exerting significant efforts to reduce the risks and finally to eliminate this important problem.
At the beginning the main focus of PSSM was on awareness raising as this was the first step in approaching the problem that so many countries face. Now we can say that we have done a good job during the first phase, said Colonel Gulcan. He went on to say that what PSSM in RACVIAC is getting more concentrated on is to recognize the capacities that each country possesses in this field and to find a way how to regionally cooperate and assist each other for the benefit of the SEE region as a whole.
The seminar will last two days with participants giving national presentations and hearing a series of lectures from experts in the field of PSSM.
10 May 2016
A workshop on corruption reporting and whistleblower protection began at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Tuesday May 10th, 2016. The event is being organized in cooperation with the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI), the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and the Regional School of Public Administration (ReSPA). It is a follow-up activity to the International Conference titled “Effectiveness of Corruption Prevention Measures”, organized in May, 2015.
The purpose of the workshop is to share best practices and experiences as well as to discuss the most adequate steps for an implementation strategy for the protection of whistleblowers in the South East European region, with concrete proposals to enhance regional cooperation.
In his welcome address, RACVIAC director Ambassador Haydar Berk emphasized the importance of whistleblowing as a strong tool and mechanism in the fight against corruption. He said that the protection of reporting persons (whistleblowers) has been identified as one of the biggest challenges.
Over the course of the next two days participants will hear presentations, view case studies and engage in conversation in two panels: key legal principles for corruption reporting and improving implementation and enforcement of whistleblower protection.
27 April 2016
On Wednesday April 27th, 2016 a workshop titled Cyber Security Advanced Training Course Development was held at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation in cooperation with the Military Academy "General Mihailo Apostolski" from Skopje and with the financial support of the Federal Republic of Germany.
The activity was a continuation of the cyber security project whose aim is to provide an opportunity to discuss the findings and conclusions of the research methodology and data collected during the research part of the project in 2015. The information and conclusions thus compiled will be used as a starting point in the development of an Advanced Training Programme which will be based on “train the trainers” concept and cyber security in practice.
In his opening address, RAVIAC Director Ambassador Haydar Berk, said that close regional and wider cooperation among the South East European countries through dialogue and various forms of coordination is a strong response to today's challenges to international security and defence policy, leading to the building of confidence and security among the countries and development of synergy among activity participants. Such Cyber Security activities are fully dedicated to overcoming the common contemporary security threats and challenges.
Also addressing the participants at the opening, the Dean of the Military Academy "General Mihailo Apostolski" from Skopje, Colonel Orce Popovski said that such cooperation is necessary since in the realm of strategy, cyberpower is recasting the context in which all strategic activity takes place, namely international politics. Cyberpower also blurs the distinction between war and peace, undermines the privileged role of the state in war, and might possibly have long-term implications for how military forces are organized.
The purpose of the workshop is to bring together cyber security experts from the South East European region in order to work on the development of the Advanced Training Course program. The designated topics for the Training Course will be in line with the individual countries needs and best practices, while the course itself has been planned for October, 2016.
25 April 2016
Ambassador Knez began her visit with an office call to RACVIAC Director H.E. Ambassador Haydar Berk. Following the office call she met with members of the RACVIAC staff during which she was given a briefing regarding the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.
During discussions the personnel structure and development process for the RACVIAC programme were discussed.
Ambassador Knez noted that the existence of the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation is important for building confidence in the region. She added that challenges are different today than they were in 2000 however the significance of RACVIAC remains the same.
22 April 2016
Opening the event RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Haydar Berk noted that RACVIAC presented a unique platform in South East Europe addressing security issues and fostering security cooperation and stability. He thanked partner countries Austria, Germany, Norway and the USA for their substantial support to the activities of the Centre, as well as to Hungary and Slovenia for seconding personnel.
In his opening address, the Austrian defence attaché, Brigadier General Roman Fischer, thanked Ambassador Berk for enabling the meeting to take place at RACVIAC noting that he was glad they had a chance to meet with RACVIAC and expressing confidence that this could be the beginning of further cooperation.
The defence and police attachés were then given a brief presentation about RACVIAC and the work of each of its pillars. The gathering continued with the meeting of defence and police attachés who discussed the migrant crisis and assessed threats as well as further cooperation.
19 April 2016
Upon the invitation of RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Haydar Berk, Brigadier General Peter Braunstein, the Director of the German Bundeswehr Verification Centre visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Tuesday April 19th, 2016.
During the visit, Brigadier General Peter Braunstein was briefed on the activities of RACVIAC. The visiting Delegation provided their own presentation regarding the work of the Bundeswehr Verification Centre. Also, various aspects of work by the two centres was discussed along with the potential for further expanding the existing excellent cooperation.
The Federal Republic of Germany has been an unique partner of RACVIAC with substantial contribution since the Centre`s inception.
18 April 2016
The event is being organized as a workshop titled „C-WMD National Strategies – Premises and Inter-agency Cooperation“, and a Proliferation Security Initiative Table Top Exercise (PSI TTX) that will reinforce the efforts to develop national strategies to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The workshop and PSI TTX objectives are: To discuss in depth the premises of a national strategy in terms of goals and international requirements; To introduce the importance of inter-agency cooperation; To demonstrate alternative models of inter-agency cooperation; To peer review existing national forms of inter-agency cooperation and discuss the key stakeholders’ role in the process; To deepen contacts among representatives of national organisations and agencies engaged in the accomplishment of counter proliferation and of response to WMD.
The event began with and overview of the progress made so far under the C-WMD network followed by national presentations from the respective representatives present.
Over the course of the next 3 days participants will hear a series of lectures and take part in 3 exercises.
12 April 2016
On April 12th, 2016 the 35th Multinational Advisory Group (MAG) meeting was held in Tirana, Republic of Albania, under the chairmanship of Brigadier General Nazmi Cahani, Land Force Commander of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Albania. The Meeting gathered 32 MAG delegates, including the three representatives of RCC, SEESAC and SEDM Secretariat, as well as 11 RACVIAC participants.
During the meeting the delegates were provided with the latest information on the Centre’s work, including an update about the RACVIAC Programme, the Financial report and the current situation regarding the vacancies in the Centre. At the beginning Ambassador Haydar Berk, Director of RACVIAC, and the MAG Chairperson, welcomed the participants and all other delegates. All present noted the statement of Greece on the concluding of the ratification process and renewed participation in the framework of RACVIAC as a Member, upon submitting the instrument of ratification to the Depository of the Agreement. The Director thanked all MAG countries, international organizations, other participants and partners for outstanding support during the year 2015 and invited them all to continue to support RACVIAC in the ongoing year and the years to come. He particularly emphasised the need to strengthen the ownership of the organization.
The autumn MAG Meeting will take place in RACVIAC facilities on 12-13 October 2016, where the new MAG Chairperson, a representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina, should be approved by MAG.
MAG delegates complimented the RACVIAC Director and his staff on their efforts and expressed their further support for the Centre’s work.
08 April 2016
The Conference on „Gender Perspectives and Security in South-Eastern Europe“ began at RACVIAC on Thursday, 7 April 2016. Organized by RACVIAC and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Office in the Republic of Croatia, it is the sixth programme activity dealing with the subject. The main aim of the Conference is to continue to address the gender equality topics regarding the progress made to date to implement UNSCR 1325 and corresponding resolutions in the countries participating in RACVIAC work. This year's Conference follows the 2014 Gender Conference conclusions when the requirement for periodical events of this particular type was established.
This time around the mission is threefold: first of all, to convene a relevant subject matter expert forum, to support professional development efforts of the two key expert groups involved in the National Action Plan implementation at the operational as well as the tactical level, and, finally, to introduce some specific analytical assessment tools and tools for monitoring of the implementation of the UNSCR 1325 and NAPs, as a previously identified and critically important joint requirement.
Opening the Conference, RACVIAC Director H.E. Ambassador Haydar Berk said that RACVIAC was extremely proud to conduct the sixth programme activity on the topic. He added that back in 2012 an initial round table, organized together with the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Slovenia, provided the opportunity to discuss this important concept for the first time and within the remit of South-Eastern Europe. He emphasized that Gender equality is first of all a fundamental human right and that empowerment of women is also a precondition for development, saying that he was pleased to point out that RACVIAC has even managed to enlarge its gender partnership community over time.
The participants of the Conference were also addressed by such high-level guests as the Minister of Human Rights and Refugees of Bosnia and Herzegovina, H.E. Semiha Borovac. Minister Borovac stated that in the past few years many activities were launched in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the goal to affirm women's position in the light of the UNSCR 1325 and that this is a very important Resolution for Bosnia and Herzegovina in view of the ravages of the 1990s war, but also the wars currently led all over the world. Bosnia was the first country in the region to adopt, in 2010, the National Action Plan on the subject, she stated. Today, the second generation of this Plan is being prepared. The Minister added that women currently make up 6.7 % of all military personnel in the country, albeit with a low percentage in the leading positions. Ms Maja Čavlović, the Personal Representative of the President of the Republic of Croatia and President's Advisor for Defence and National Security stressed that Croatia attaches particular importance to the protection and empowerment of women and girls and that Croatia undertook the obligation to further promote gender equality via the NAP. But, she also added, women are still not represented equally in political and public life. BG Goradana Garašić, MSc, Head of the Military Office in the Cabinet for Defence and National Security in the President's Office stated that there is still a lot of work to do in this field, adding that they also hope to have a woman Commander of a battalion soon.
„The most emerging threat today is the rise of violent extremism and terrorism. Escalation of violence is perhaps the greatest threat to world's peace and security and that particularly affects women“, said H.E. Astrid Versto, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway in Croatia, who also addressed the audience during the Conference opening, adding that today there is ample evidence that women are best placed to detect early signs of violence in the family and society.
Speaking on behalf of RACVIAC traditional partner in the field, Dr. Michael Lange, Head of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Office in Croatia, said that the main goal of this activity was the enhancement of the role of women in the army with special emphasis on the situation in SEE. He added that this was a subject that Germany holds very close to heart given that it currently has some 200 women deployed in military missions abroad. LtCOl Janus Kaschta, the Military Attaché of the Federal Republic of Germany in the Republic of Croatia, pointed out that women in Bundeswehr counts as a veritable success story. He underlined that there are some 19000 women employed in the Germany Army at the moment, and that they are even represented in the country's Special Forces Command. It should also be stressed that this year's Conference aims to make a step forward in view of the previous engagements and supports the establishment of a tentative and possibly permanent gender expert professional development framework for South-Eastern Europe. Therefore, the participants of the Conference have also been provided with the opportunity to participate in the specifically designed workshops.
In May, a related subject matter activity will also take place in RACVIAC, the „Gender Training of the Trainers Course (GToT)“, for a third time in a row. This 10-day Course is directly supported by the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia and the Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations, as the NATO's Head Gender Department operating within the Swedish Armed Forces International Centre.
30 March 2016
On 25 March 2016 Ambassador Haydar Berk, Director of RACVIAC, payed courtesy calls on H.E. Zoran Djordjevic, Minister of Defense and Ambassador Branimir Filipovic, Acting Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia.
During the meeting at the Ministry of Defense Minister Djordjevic highlighted the dedication of the Serbian MoD to regional cooperation and cooperation with RACVIAC of which Serbia is a permanent member as the best way of preserving stability and security in the region. He also indicated the importance of the principle of consensus on all decisions that are made at the Centre. Ambassador Berk expressed his thanks for the strong support that Serbia is providing to RACVIAC and for Serbia`s active participation in all meetings and workshops. He emphasized that RACVIAC, as a technical regional organization, is working for the benefit of the whole region and that there shouldn’t be any gaps in regional security cooperation. He expressed hope that the Serbian MOD will maintain its valuable support of RACVIAC and that in the forthcoming period this cooperation will be further enhanced.
During the visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia, Ambassador Berk acquainted Ambassador Branimir Filipović and Ambassador Branka Latinović, Head of the Department of Arms Control, with the ongoing RACVIAC activities and projects. Ambassador Filipović expressed satisfaction for RACVIAC excellent work, particularly on the C-WMD Network, and confidence in more active participation of not only the MFA but also of the other Ministries in RACVIAC activities. Ambassador Berk underlined the importance of regional ownership and that RACVIAC will continue, through the implementation of its Programme, promoting cooperation and stability in the SEE region.
22 March 2016
On Tuesday, 22 March 2016, H.E. Mr Kamil Khasiyev, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Azerbaijan accredited in the Republic of Croatia, visited RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.
The programme of Ambassador Khasiyev's visit to RACVIAC comprised an office call with Ambassador Haydar Berk, Director of RACVIAC, and continued with a meeting which also included RACVIAC staff.
In the ensuing part, a presentation on RACVIAC was held and also a discussion on the various aspects of the organizational set up and framework of RACVIAC took part. The talks spanned the question of the influence of the current security situation on the RACVIAC Programme. Ambassador Khasiyev was interested to learn how the specific aspects of the Programme are being elaborated on and in RACVIAC activities.
„The fact that RACVIAC is able to adopt its Programme accordingly to the current security situation and the requirements of the region is one of its greatest strengths overall“, said Ambassador H.E. Haydar Berk in conclusion of the meeting.
14 March 2016
The orientation course for the Agreement on Sub-Regional Arms Control (Dayton Article IV) began at ReSPA (Regional School of Public Administration) in Danilovgrad, Montenegro on Monday March 14th, 2016. The event is being organized by the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation in cooperation with the OSCE and the Republic of Montenegro with the generous support of the Federal Republic of Germany.
The purpose of this 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.
In his opening address RACVIAC programme manager for the Cooperative Security Environment (with focus on arms control) pillar, Colonel Muharrem Gülcan, said "the “Dayton Article IV Course represents one of the most important annual activities of our organization, since it evidently makes a significant contribution to regional stability, transparency and trust". He added that "we are all aware that constructive dialogue and close cooperation, as well as a common approach to security issues, are undoubtedly crucial prerequisites for achieving peace and stability in the region and beyond. Peace and stability are the main goals of the concept of comprehensive and cooperative security consciously advocated by RACVIAC, and it is our belief that this course can make a contribution in that regard by serving as an excellent tool for increasing openness and transparency amongst our countries".
In his opening address speaking on behalf of the ReSPA director, Mr Vlatko Naumovski, wished everyone a warm welcome and underlined future cooperation with RACVIAC, which he said he hoped would result in a memorandum of understanding.
During the first block national representatives from signatory countries to the agreement and OSCE representative, Mr Robin Mossinkoff, addressed the development of the agreement from their national perspectives. Emphasis was placed on the importance of the agreement to the region as well as confidence and security building measures. RACVIAC was praised for supporting the member countries from the very beginning, not only in terms of training future inspectors, but also for promoting the agreement and enabling increased transparency.
Over the course of the next three days participants will hear lectures about the history of Dayton Article IV, as well as new developments and challenges in regards to the General Framework Agreement for Peace in BA, with a special focus on the inspections of Declared Sites.
During the practical part of the course a training inspection of a Declared Site will be conducted, enabling the participants, previously divided into two teams, to practice roles of an inspector or an escort.
10 March 2016
During discussions the importance of RACVIAC as a strong security-policy platform in South East Europe was confirmed while at the same time mutual satisfaction with cooperation to date and the support of the Croatian Ministry of Defence for RACVIAC was expressed.
Minister Buljević emphasized that one of the priorities in his activities will be building a stable and secure region. Considering the fact that security problems faced by a series of European countries should be resolved at their sources and with close inter-state cooperation, RACVIAC, as place where such cooperation and exchange of experiences takes place, takes a prominent place. Thus, the minister announced further deepening of cooperation and full support for RACVIAC.
Ambassador Berk underlined the importance increasing RACVIAC’s connectivity and cooperation with NATO, the EU, OSCE and other relevant organizations and institutions. He emphasized that the organization is in a continuous process of adapting its activities according to the needs of the regional countries. Thus RACVIAC’s strategy covers regional and global security challenges through a wide spectrum of activities from CBMs, security sector reforms and gender equality to counter transnational security threats such as terrorism, proliferation of WMDs, organized crime, all forms of illicit trafficking and cyber security.
08 March 2016
Today, the world is marking International Women's Day, which in 2016 is being held under the theme "Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality." With the theme the UN is asking governments to make national commitments that will close the gender equality gap.
The RACVIAC – Centre for Security cooperation remains fully committed to the promotion of gender equality. In this regard RACVIAC continues to organize several activities each year addressing the implementation of UNSCR 1325 on women and peace and security. This year two activities have been planned: A conference on Gender Perspectives and Security in SEE scheduled for early April and a Gender Training of the Trainers Course scheduled for the second half of May.
The RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation conveys greetings to all women on the occasion of International Women's Day.
04 March 2016
The Croatian Centre for International Military Operations which shares the "Vitez Damir Martić" barracks in Rakitje, Croatia, with the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation celebrated its 15th anniversary on Friday March 4th, 2016.
A ceremony was held in the Restaurant Rakitje where dignitaries attended including Croatian Armed Forces Chief of General Staff, General Mirko Šundov, the Commander of Croatian Land Forces General Mate Ostović, Deputy Minister of Defence Mr Tomislav Ivić and RACVIAC Director H.E. Ambassador Haydar Berk.
The commander of the International Military Operations Centre, Lt Col Ivica Plejic addressed those gathered presenting a brief overview of the history of the Centre which was founded in 2001. An awards ceremony was then held where selected members of the centre's personnel and the centre itself were awarded for outstanding service.
Dignitaries were then given a tour of the "Vitez Damir Martić" barracks during which a portion of RACVIAC's facilities were also viewed. RACVIAC director H.E. Haydar berk took the opportunity to inform the guests about the activities of the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.
Celebrations ended with a lunch hosted by the Croatian Centre for International Military Operations.
03 March 2016
The 3rd seminar on Transition of the Military Education Systems in South East Europe began at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Thursday March 3rd, 2016. The event is being organized in cooperation with the Croatian Defence Academy. Its main purpose is to address the different aspects of the evolving process of military professionalization and its impact on civil-military relations in the past, present and future. One of the major topics of the 2016 seminar will be the process of modernization of the military education process and particularly the introduction of distance learning solutions or “e-learning” and the Erasmus Programme.
The activity aims to provide an overview of the transition processes in the SEE in view of the transformation of compulsory into all-volunteer Armed Forces during the last two decades, its impacts on military educational systems and to enable the exchange of experiences and practices regarding the legal aspects of integrating military education systems into the national educational systems in the SEE region.
Over the course of the seminar participants will hear lectures on the exchange of students in military education systems as well as distance learning programmes and systems in military education. On the final day participants will visit the Dr Franjo Tuđman Croatian Defence Academy.
29 February 2016
On February 29th 2016, H.E. Thomas Schultze, the German Ambassador to Croatia and RACVIAC Director, H.E. Ambassador Haydar Berk, signed the Financial Agreement between the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and the Federal Republic of Germany for the year 2016.
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, especially within the RACVIAC "Cooperative Security Environment (CSE), with focus on Arms Control" pillar. Namely, the activities focused on the training of verification experts, under treaties such as: the Dayton Agreement, the Vienna Document, the Arms Control Symposium and the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
H.E. ambassador Haydar Berk, praised the cooperation with the Federal Republic of Germany for over a decade. As topics related to arms control and verification present one of the basic activities since the beginning of RACVIAC, this cooperation significantly contributed to enhancing trust and confidence in the region and beyond.
26 February 2016
On Monday February 26th, 2016 the Serbian ambassador accredited to the Republic of Croatia, H.E. Mira Nikolić paid a visit to the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation in the company of the Serbian Defence Attaché to the Republic of Croatia Colonel Ivan Vulić.
The visit began with a separate meeting with RACVIAC director H.E. Ambassador Haydar Berk followed by a meeting with members of the RACVIAC staff. During the meeting H.E. Berk and members of the staff informed the Serbian ambassador of activities being conducted within the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.
During discussion H.E. Nikolić informed the staff of Serbia's status as an EU candidate country and various aspects of accession negotiations related to security. Development of the RACVIAC programme was also discussed in particular related to emerging security challenges such as natural catastrophes and the migrant crisis.
Following the meeting the delegation attended a lunch hosted by H.E. Haydar Berk.
18 February 2016
On Wednesday February 17th, 2016, the Croatian government cabinet appointed RACVIAC Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop, assistant minister at the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia.
A farewell party for General Jakop was held the following day. General Jakop held the position of RACVIAC Deputy Director for more than 3 years and will be remembered by the staff for his kind spirit and exemplary leadership.
16 February 2016
A Chemical Weapons Convention seminar began on Tuesday February 16th, 2016 at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security cooperation. The event is a continuation of fruitful cooperation between RACVIAC and the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in promoting the implementation of the CWC in South-Eastern Europe, which directly helps enhance regional stability, transparency and trust. This year the main focus will be put again on a specific article (X) of the Convention, in particular on the administrative/regulatory measures that govern the actions of States Parties and the Organization vis-á-vis the implementation of the Convention.
In his opening address RACVIAC Director H.E. Ambassador Haydar Berk noted that the CWC Seminar represents one of the most important annual activities of the organization and that RACVIAC is delighted to be hosting the event for a thirteenth time. He welcome the co-organozers and lecturers from the OPCW, Ms Katarina Gromulsova and Mr Guy Valente, expressing confidence that their valuable insights and expertise will assist the participants in achieving their goals and the objectives of the seminar.
Addressing the participants at the opening Mr Guy Valente noted that cooperation between RACVIAC and the OPCW has been a model for two organizations working toward the same goal.
Over the course of the seminar participants will hear several lactures on various aspects of the CWC implementation, conduct a table top exercise and provide national presentations.
05 February 2016
On Monday February 8th, 2016, the Norwegian defence attaché in the Republic of Serbia CDR SG Tore Andersson visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation in the company of the the High Executive Officer Assistant to the Attaché Ms Marit Skrugstad.
The visit began with an office call with RACVIAC Director H.E. Ambassador Haydar Berk, followed by a meeting with the RACVIAC staff.
Following a brief introduction to members of the staff the guests were given a short briefing on the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation. During the discussion the substantial contribution to Norway in the past was underlined while the various aspects of the RACVIAC programme for 2016 were explained.
The meeting ended with a lunch hosted by RACVIAC Director H.E. Ambassador Haydar Berk.
05 February 2016
Ambassador Maksymiuk began his visit with an office call to RACVIAC Director H.E. Ambassador Haydar Berk. He then met with members of the RACVIAC staff where he was given a briefing on the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.
Following the briefing, a discussion was held in which various aspects of the RACVIAC programme of activities were covered along with the various security challenges affecting the region and how RACVIAC's programme adapts to these changes.
Ambassador Maksymiuk said that he was proud Canada was an observer country at RACVIAC adding that he will look for ways for Canada to be more active. In conclusion he wished the entire RACVIAC staff success in their work.
04 February 2016
On Thursday February 4th, 2015 the ambassador of the Republic of Austria to Croatia H.E. Dr Andreas Wiedenhoff visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation. The visit began with a tête-a-tête meeting with RACVIAC director H.E. Ambassador Haydar Berk. Followed by a meeting with members of the RACVIAC staff.
Following a presentation on RACVIAC, Ambassador Wiedenhoff noted that RACVIAC is going in the right direction as it adapts to the ever changing security environment. He noted that Austria being the host nation of the OSCE and others is very much interested in security cooperation. He added that dialogue and cooperation, found in the RACVIAC mission statement, are very important and that all can contribute to added value by cooperating.
During discussion with members of the RACVIAC staff ways in which to improve RACVIAC visibility within the EU were discussed.
The visit ended with a lunch hosted by RACVIAC Director H.E. Ambassador Haydar Berk.
03 February 2016
On February 1st and 2nd 2015, a „Peer Review Seminar on OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security“ was held at the RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation. The event was held in cooperation with the OSCE and the direct support of the Republic of Austria.
The OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security was adopted in 1994 and it presents one of the main OSCE mechanisms to address the global security challenges. In that light "The Code of Conduct" has played a vital role for the OSCE participating states in their transition process to develop democratic governments and pertinent defence and security institutions. All participating states commit themselves to “at all times provide for and maintain effective guidance to and control of its military, paramilitary and security forces by constitutionally established authorities vested with democratic legitimacy”. The main tools of the CoC are the annual exchange of information by means of Participating States’ implementation reports including countries of South East Europe.
Opening the event, RACVIAC Director H.E. Ambassador Haydar Berk said "No matter how deeply the countries of South East Europe are engaged in the Security Sector Reform, the OSCE Code of Conduct will continue to be a valuable tool in keeping track of the democratic changes they have made.
It is important to stress that, at its core, the Code of Conduct also imposes upon the participating States the commitment to co-operate, including through the development of sound economic and environmental conditions, as well as to counter tensions that may lead to conflicts.
Regional seminars and workshops of such kind are regarded as a highly appropriate and useful tool for promoting the objectives of the Code of Conduct and fostering its implementation by the OSCE participating States. Therefore, I believe that Seminars such as this one are important for all countries in the region, since they provide us with an opportunity to exchange ideas, experiences and lessons learned in this extremely important field of Security Sector Reform."
During the course of the event participants heard a series of individual expert consultations and participated in group discussions related to the OSCE Code of Conduct and the Peer Review mechanism. The seminar was jointly closed by RACVIAC Director H.E. Ambassador Haydar Berk and the Austrian Defence attaché to Croatia and Albania, Brigadier General Roman Fischer, emphasizing the significance of RACVIAV to dialogue and cooperation in South East Europe and the traditional sincere support of the Republic of Austria to these efforts.
29 January 2016
A third activity was held under the C-WMD network at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation from January 25th to 28th, 2016. The event titled "Developing a C-WMD National Strategy: The Strategy Template" was held with the continued support of the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM), U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), and the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia.
The purpose of the event was to refine the national strategy templates, while objectives were: to further demonstrate the concept of a national CBRN strategy; to identify key elements of a national strategy; to highlight the importance of action plans as an integral element of strategy and to introduce the international legal basis of counter-proliferation.
In his opening address RACVIAC Director H.E. Ambassador Haydar Berk Said "Given that the security in South East Europe and beyond is facing very turbulent times we have to be more than ever devoted to making all necessary arrangements for securing peace and stability in our immediate environment. A C-WMD National Strategy is one of those elements that will help ensure this goal."
During the course of the event participants heard national presentations on the progress in the respective countries and participated in working groups on the National Strategy Template.
20 January 2016
A meeting of MAG Points of Contact was held at the RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation on Wednesday January 20th, 2016. The aim of the gathering was to inform representatives of RACVIAC member and participant countries of current events taking place at RACVIAC and the state of affairs at the Centre.
The meeting began with presentations by Programme Managers regarding the RACVIAC programme for 2016 and a projection for 2017. The Programme Managers provided the MAG POCs with information regarding proposed changes to the programme within their respective pillars, while delegates were invited to inform RACVIAC on their readiness to host activities, finance them and contribute in kind.
The meeting continued with a presentation of the new Online Registration Procedure for RACVIAC activities.
Other presentations included an overview of the current RACVIAC personnel situation and changes in the RACVIAC Personnel as well as information regarding the current financial situation, realization of the 2015 budget and overview of the 2016 budget.
* Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.