News 2016

19 May 2016

RACVIAC Director visits Bosnia and Herzegovina

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.

RACVIAC Director Ambassador Haydar Berk and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina H.E. Igor Crnadak (Photo: www.mvp.gov.ba) 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

Gender Training of the Trainers Course Begins at RACVIAC

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."

Brigadier General Gordana GarašićIn 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

Seminar on Physical Security and Stockpile Management begins at RACVIAC

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

Workshop on Corruption Reporting and Whistleblower Protection begins at RACVIAC

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

Cyber Security Advanced Training Course Development Workshop held at RACVIAC

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

Slovenian Ambassador visits RACVIAC

Slovenian Ambassabor Mrs Smiljana Knez and RACVIAC Director Ambassador Haydar BerkH.E. Mrs Smiljana Knez, Ambassador of Slovenia, visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Monday April 25th, 2016. She was accompanied by Mr Primož Koštrica, Minister Plenipotentiary.

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

Meeting of Defence and Police Attachés held at RACVIAC

A meeting of defence and police attachés was held at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Friday, April 22nd, 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

Director of German Verification Centre (BwVC) visits RACVIAC

Brigadier General Peter Braunstein (left) and Ambassador Haydar Berk (right).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

Workshop on C-WMD National Strategies begins at RACVIAC

The second activity of the year under the C-WMD Network got under way at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Monday April 18th, 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

35th MAG Meeting held in Tirana, Republic of Albania

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

Conference on „Gender Perspectives and Security in South-Eastern Europe“ begins at RACVIAC

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

RACVIAC Director Ambassador Haydar Berk visits the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia

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

Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Croatia visits RACVIAC

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

Dayton Article IV Orientation Course begins at ReSPA in Danilovgrad, Montenegro

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

RACVIAC director Ambassador Berk meets with Croatian Minister of Defence

Croatian Minister of Defence Josip Buljević and RACVIAC Director H.E.Ambassador Haydar Berk. (Photo:MORH/ J. Kopi)The director of the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation Ambassador Haydar Berk met with the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Croatia Josip Buljević on Thursday March 10th, 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.

(Photo:MORH/ J. Kopi)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

RACVIAC celebrates International Women's Day

RACVIAC Director H.E.Ambassador Haydar Berk and female members of the RACVIAC staff.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

Croatian Centre for International Military Operations celebrates 15th anniversary

(Left to right) RACVIAC Director H.E.Ambassador Haydar Berk, Croatian Armed Forces Chief of General Staff General Mirko Šungov and Croatian Deputy Minister of Defence Tomislav IvićThe 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

Seminar on Transition of Military Education Systems in SEE begins

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

Financial Agreement for 2016 Signed with Federal Republic of Germany

German Ambassador to Croatia H.E. Thomas Schultze (left) and RACVIAC Director H.E. Ambassador Haydar Berk (right) 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

Serbian Ambassador to Croatia visits RACVIAC

RACVIAC Director H.E. Ambassador Haydar Berk (left) and Serbian Ambassador to Croatia H.E. Mira Nikolić right) 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

RACVIAC Deputy Director Appointed Assistant Minister of Defence

RACVIAC Director H.E. Ambassador Haydar Berk (left) Assistant Minister Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop (right) 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

Chemical Weapons Convention seminar begins at RACVIAC

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.

OPCW representative Mr Guy Valente (left) RACVIAC Director H.E. Ambassador Haydar Berk (right) 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

Norwegian defence attaché visits RACVIAC

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

Canadian ambassador visits RACVIAC

On Friday February 5th, 2015 the ambassador of Canada to the Republic of Croatia, H.E. Daniel Maksymiuk, visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.

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

Austrian ambassador visits RACVIAC

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

Peer Review Seminar on OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security held at RACVIAC

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."

RACVIAC Director H.E. Abmbassador Haydar Berk (left) Austrian Defence attaché to Croatia and Albania, Brigadier General Roman Fischer (right) 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

C-WMD Network activity held at RACVIAC

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

MAG POC Meeting held at RACVIAC

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 Manpower Table as well as information regarding the current financial situation, realization of the 2015 budget and overview of the 2016 budget.

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