News 2011

13 Dec 2011

Cyber Security Project

A two-day round table entitled RACVIAC Cyber Security Project has started today at RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation. The round table, which has brought together around 50 experts on cyber security and representatives of SEE countries’ state institutions, has been designed so as to comprise presentations by internationally renowned experts in this field, including the representatives of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), NATO, the South East European Law Enforcement Centre (SELEC), the Regional Cooperation Council, Cyber DefCon, the Federal Ministry of Defence and Sports of the Federal Republic of Austria and the Bundeswehr Transformation Centre of the Federal Republic of Germany.
The purpose of the round table is two-fold. Firstly, it is to bring together cyber security experts from the countries of the region and provide them with an opportunity to exchange relevant information and experience, as well as to expose them to the latest developments in the field. Secondly, it is to define the recommendations and guidelines for the future activity of RACVIAC in the cyber security domain. The round table is divided into three sessions, namely: International and Regional Aspects of Cyber Security (Session I), The View from the Capitals (Session II) and RACVIAC Cyber Security Project (Session III). The first session, moderated by Mr Ioan Landry (UNICRI), has seen an analysis of the current global situation in cybercrime, information warfare and the contemporary asymmetric cyber threats against security, as well as the presentation of some achievements in combating cyber crime in South East Europe.
The second session, moderated by Mr Virgil Ivan-Cucu (RCC), is dedicated to exposés by the representatives of SEE countries. The third session will serve as a platform for the collection of inputs from the participants regarding the RACVIAC Cyber Security Project and recommendations on the number and type of cyber security related activities to be conducted in the future.

08 Dec 2011

Pooling and Sharing as Smart Defence

A one-day seminar titled “Better Defence Resources Management - Polling and Sharing as Smart Defence” was conducted by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation on 08 December 2011. This seminar was organized as a follow-up of the “First Regional Meeting of Heads of Procurement Departments” co organized by RACVIAC the Montenegrin Ministry of Defence in April this year. The mentioned meeting had identified pooling and sharing as an important segment of a successful defence resource management in times of depleted defence budgets and severe financial constraints. The purpose of the seminar was to present the “poling and sharing” concept and to acquaint the participants with some successful projects based on its implementation. The seminar gathered more than 25 military officials and staff members from defence policy, planning and procurement departments, representing Albania, Croatia, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro and Serbia, as well as lecturers from the European Defence Agency, Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia. In his opening remarks, Mr Dragan Lozancic, PhD, Head of Defence Policy Department, Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia, pointed out that, although the SEE region did not have any tradition in pooling and sharing, this concept could be the best instrument for defence cooperation among the countries in the future. Focusing on the impact of the economic crisis on European defence budgets, Mr Phillipe Rutz, Project Officer for Pooling and Sharing in the European Defence Agency, emphasized that the main obstacle in pooling and sharing was fragmentation, i.e. diverging national requirements, different equipment and specific national production, which in turn resulted in a lack of standardization and interoperability, insufficient adaptability to a competitive market and a waste of money. The seminar continued with a presentation entitled ”New multinational capability development initiatives in Central Europe - good practices” by Mr Attila Demko, PhD, Head of Defence Planning Department, Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Hungary. The presentation was focused on the current status of pooling and sharing in Central Europe and it gave the participants an opportunity to learn about good pooling and sharing practices in Central Europe and about possibilities for SEE countries to join some of those initiatives. Mr Erik Kopac, PhD, University of Ljubljana, Republic of Slovenia, presented two aspects of pooling and sharing, the first from the perspective of the EU concept and the second from the perspective of NATO Smart Defence Strategy, thus giving the participants a wider picture of this type of defence cooperation. The seminar was concluded with a common observation that the forthcoming NATO Summit in Chicago will help to define further steps in this field by laying out some new projects, and that RACVIAC’s next defence resource management activity should be planned accordingly.

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

01 Dec 2011

New Agreement enters into force

The Republic of Serbia deposited its instrument of ratification of the Agreement on RACVIAC on 15 November 2011 with the Depositary, Republic of Croatia. With this act the Republic of Serbia has become the fifth signatory State to ratify the document, which was the prerequisite for the Agreement to enter into force. Agreement enters into force today, 01 December 2011. This marks the end of the transformation process of the Centre, started in 2007, whereby RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation becomes legally and formally a very unique international organization promoting enhanced regional security and cooperation through the concept of regional ownership. Background: RACVIAC was established in 2000 within the Stability Pact as a successful project of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Croatia, later acceded by the Republic of Turkey and the Republic of Italy. As the Regional Arms Control Verification and Implementation Assistance Centre, it had an aim to provide arms control training, promote confidence and security building measures and broaden cooperation in South Eastern Europe (SEE). With a view to enhancing the regional stability, the Centre later shifted its emphasis onto a wide range of politico-military issues, including security sector reform, defence conversion and international and regional cooperation. Developments and changes in the security environment in SEE, as well as the changing needs of SEE countries, necessitated a review of RACVIAC mission, objectives and structure. This led to the beginning of the transformation process of the Centre in 2007, which was concluded by the signing of the new Agreement on RACVIAC in 2010 by eight SEECP countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Montenegro, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Serbia and Turkey) and subsequently by Romania in February 2011. All those changes enabling the Centre to be better prepared for addressing emerging security challenges are also reflected in the Centre’s new name: RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation.

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

28 Nov 2011

US Political/Economic Officer visited RACVIAC

On 28 November 2011 Mr Sean Moffatt, Political /Economic Officer at the US Embassy to the Republic of Croatia, visited RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation. The occasion for the visit was the wish expressed by Mr Moffatt to make personal acquaintance with RACVIAC, being a unique international, regionally owned organization fostering dialogue and security cooperation in South East Europe. Mr Moffatt was welcomed by RACVIAC Deputy Director Colonel Željko Cepanec and RACVIAC senior staff members. Following the presentation on the current situation of RACVIAC, its organizational structure, mission and achievements, Mr Moffatt and the hosts engaged in a fruitful discussion on RACVIAC's scope of activities and plans for the future. Subsequently, Mr Moffatt met with the Director of RACVIAC, Ambassador Nikola Todorčevski, who thanked Mr Moffatt for the interest showed in RACVIAC's work and expressed hope that cooperation between the USA and RACVIAC would be enhanced in a time to come.

23 Nov 2011

Public Media and Security in SEE conference at RACVIAC

A two-day conference entitled “Public Media and Security in SEE”, jointly co- organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation and the Croatian Radio and Television, started today in Rakitje. The idea for the realization of a conference on this subject matter arose out of the need to promote the EU media and security related standards and to draw attention to the interconnection between public media services and security issues. This relation will be explored through dialogue and exchange of information, views and ideas, with the aim of disseminating EU standards related to the media and security and building a more open, transparent and stable environment in the Region.

The purpose of this conference is to provide a platform for open dialogue and discussion on the role of public media services in the general safety of citizens, to foster media pluralism and to support cooperation between regional public media services and national security institutions.More specific objectives include analyzing the transparency of the relationship between public media and security institutions, examining the role of the media in crisis management operations, promoting the necessity of improving the standards and capacity building in the field of public media services, and sharing information, views, and experience on security issues and regional and international cooperation.

The conference is divided into three main sessions, namely: “Cooperation and commitment to the development and strengthening of the relations between security institutions and public media”; “The importance of building public media standards and capabilities in security issues” and “The role of public media in crisis management operations in SEE and abroad”. The conference has gathered more than 50 participants: spokespersons from ministries of defense (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia), representatives from public media services (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, France, Romania, Slovenia, Serbia and Turkey), representatives of European Broadcasting Union, South Eastern European Media Organization, Regional Cooperation Council, Organization for Promotion of Euro Atlantic Integration, European Military Press Association and Regional Media Training Centre, as well as military journalists and representatives of the Faculty of Political Sciences in Zagreb

Formal opening addresses were delivered by Mr Josip Popovac, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Croatian RadioTelevision and by Mr Zlatko Gareljić, Defence Affairs Advisor to the President of the Republic of Croatia. Opening the Conference Mr Gareljić said that “the media have an important place and special role in contemporary societies. This refers to independent, professionally oriented media that are responsible to the general public and society in general. The public has the right to know what is going on and what the current situation in defence and the security system is, to know what is happening in international missions and operations and how ready their armed forces are to accomplish their missions.’

On behalf of RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation, the welcome address was given by Colonel Željko Cepanec, Deputy Director.

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

22 Nov 2011

Arms Control Symposium started today in Tirana

From 22 to 23 November 2011 the Albanian capital, Tirana, is hosting the Arms Control Symposium jointly organised by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation, Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Albania, Federal Ministry of Defence of the Federal Republic of Germany, German Federal Foreign Office and German Institute for International and Security Affairs. The purpose of this event is to present the latest developments in the field of arms control and to open a new perspective in confidence-building measures for peace and stability in South East Europe.

Participants include representatives of ministries, political institutions and national authorities devoted to the implementation of arms control treaties and arms control experts from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro, Poland, Romania and Turkey. Highly professional lecturers represent the OSCE, NATO, national ministries and verification centres from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Germany, Hungary and the USA. The implementation of various arms control treaties in SEE plays a key role in strengthening the cooperation and stability among the countries of the Region. Owing to its ten years' experience and generous support from regional and international partners, RACVIAC is well placed to serve as the regional centre for training, education and capacity building in the field of arms control.

Opening the Symposium RACVIAC Director Ambassador Nikola Todorcevski said that he hoped “that discussions during the Symposium will not remain just at the conceptual level, but that this forum, while enabling us to identify past achievements, will prove conducive to outlining plans for the future in a very concrete way to the benefit of the SEE region'.

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

21 Nov 2011

Visit of MajGen Koteski

On 21 November 2011 Major General Gorančo Koteski, the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* visited RACVIAC. Major General was accompanied by Ms Mirjana Šterijova, Head of Department for International cooperation, Colonel Sekulovski Zoran and Colonel Zvonko Atanasovski, non-resident Defence Attaché to Croatia. The guests were welcomed by RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Nikola Todorčevski, Deputy Director Colonel Željko Cepanec and RACVIAC senior staff. The occasion for the visit to RACVIAC was the desire expressed by Major General Koteski to make personal acquaintance with RACVIAC and its staff.

Alongside the presentation of the current situation, organisational structure and past achievements of RACVIAC, the guests and their hosts engaged in a detailed discussion on RACVIAC’s Programme of Activities for 2011 and 2012 as well as on the prospects for mutual cooperation. Delegation of former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* used the possibility to emphasize and praise the role of RACVIAC in the process of stabilization and development of the South East Europe region and to express strong support to efforts by RACVIAC in the forthcoming period. Ambassador Todorčevski expressed sincere gratefulness for all contribution and support RACVIAC received form former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* during last eleven years.

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

17 Nov 2011

Conference on NATO Enlargement – Integration and Security in SEE region

In cooperation with NATO, RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation organised and conducted a conference entitled “NATO Enlargement – Integration and Security in SEE region” in Raktije, from 15 to 17 November 2011. The purpose of the conference was to examine the prospects of NATO enlargement in the region by informing the SEE countries about past and current developments concerning NATO integration and security in the region, especially in the light of the conclusions of the 2010 Lisbon Summit. Furthermore, the activity provided NATO member and candidate member states from the region with an opportunity to exchange views and lessons learned relating to the progress in NATO integration.

NATO’s new Strategic Concept, adopted at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010, reaffirmed the Allies’ commitment to keep NATO’s door open to any European country in a position to undertake the commitments and obligations of membership and contribute to the security in the Euro-Atlantic area. It also paved the way for full NATO integration of South-East European (SEE) countries, as potential NATO member states from SEE have demonstrated willingness to take the necessary steps and meet the benchmarks set for their possible future membership.

More than 30 participants representing Ministries of Defence, Foreign Affairs and Security from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro and Serbia, as well as representatives from NATO, EUFOR, the Institute for International Relations, the Atlantic Council of Serbia and Faculties of Political Science from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia participated in the event. The keynote speech on the Emerging Security Challenges under NATO’s New Strategic Concept was delivered by Brigadier General Massimo Panizzi, Public Affairs and STRATCOM Advisor to the Military Committee Commander, NATO HQ Bruxelles. In his speech, the General pointed out that “NATO current security challenges are more uncertain and potentially more complicated than ever before. NATO is addressing these new challenges and risks with a fresh perspective, a comprehensive approach that encompasses broad political, military economic and social dynamics to enable eligible agile and blended solutions to the root causes of these security challenges”. Highly comprehensive presentations were delivered also by Mr Pjer Simunovic, State Secretary, Croatian Ministry of Defence, Mr Fabien Lemonier, Political Advisor to EUFOR Commander in Sarajevo and Colonel Foto Duro from the Albanian Ministry of Defence.

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

11 Nov 2011

PSSM Course conducted in Vienna

Physical Security and Stockpile Management Course, co-organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation and the Federal Ministry of Defence and Sports of the Republic of Austria, took place in Vienna, Austria, from 08 to 11 November 2011. RACVIAC organized this Physical Security and Stockpile Management (PSSM) Executive Level Course in order to promote the proper management and security of national stockpiles in the SEE region. The purpose of the course was to train executive managers to assess national stockpiles, operational procedures, and infrastructure and provide ways for potential improvements to security and management, as well as to introduce best international practices in PSSM.

The course, designed for mid to high-level officials with management responsibility, brought together participants from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Moldova, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, and representatives of EUFOR, the OSCE and the ITF. Lecturers represented the Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) from the USA, German Bundeswehr Verification Centre (ZVBw), Belgian Verification Centre and experts from the Republic of Austria.

Opening the course, Director of RACVIAC Ambassador Nikola Todorcevski said: 'Stockpiles of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW), Conventional Armament (CA) and explosives continue to be a matter of serious concern to all the countries in the world, including the South East Europe region. The recent explosions worldwide prove that continuous efforts are still required if we are to find a successful solution to this challenge. We believe that only a continuous effort, especially in terms of providing appropriate education and training, can ease the situation and contribute to finding a successful solution to this challenge'.

* Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name

27 Oct 2011

Workshop on Customs Procedures and Licensing Issuance

From 25 to 27 October RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation hosted a three-day workshop titled ‘‘Regional Workshop on Customs Procedures and Licensing Issuance: Integrating the National Processing of Dual Use Goods and Conventional Weapons through Information Sharing’’, co-organized with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Conflict Prevention Centre. The workshop gathered more than 60 participants, technical practitioners such as customs service risk analysts, customs service field officers, supervisory senior level inspectors and licensing officials from the issuing offices, representing Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, and Turkey. Highly professional lecturers, coming from the OSCE, national ministries, national and international licensing offices and non-governmental agencies and institutions from the United Kingdom, the USA, Germany, Sweitzerland and Croatia, were ready to share their expertise, lessons learned and views during the entire course of the workshop.

This was the first RACVIAC activity on this topic and due to a particularly high number of applications received, RACVIAC was constrained to refuse some participants in order to reduce their number to the most optimal one. The purpose of the workshop was to enhance information sharing between customs services and licensing officers at national and regional levels in order to effectively fight the trafficking of conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons and strategic dual-use commodities. Opening the workshop RACVIAC Director Ambassador Nikola Todocevski said that 'RACVIAC, in cooperation with the OSCE, should establish a tailored regional workshop for the SEE region on a permanent annual basis, which would provide a knowledge base on the best practices in use within the region, and raise awareness of the types of movements that can be expected in transit to and from neighboring countries'.

Background: The participating States of the OSCE all have legitimate trade transactions involving the movement of conventional weapons and dual-use goods. Under the requirements of UNSCR 1540 these nations also must monitor, license, and control the export and import of strategic controlled commodities. Therefore, reporting and accountability are important factors that should be continually addressed. In order to be most effective, the multiple agencies of a government that are responsible for the actions should share information in the timeliest fashion, with least restriction. In the OSCE Document on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) adopted in 2000, OSCE participating States agreed to combat illicit trafficking in all its aspects through the adoption and implementation of national controls on small arms, including effective export control and border and customs mechanisms, and through enhanced co-operation and information exchange among law enforcement and customs agencies at international, regional and national levels.

* Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name

26 Oct 2011

Major General Torres (OSCE) visited RACVIAC

Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson in Office for Article IV, Annex B-1of Dayton Peace Agreement, Major General Michele Torres and his staff visited RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation on Wednesday, 26 October 2011. The OSCE delegation was welcomed by RACVIAC Director Ambassador Nikola Todorcevski, accompanied by the Deputy Director, Programme Managers and Planning and Liaison Officers.

The main purpose of the visit was the common interest and goal pursued by both organizations, namely supporting and assisting the four signatory countries of the Dayton Peace Agreement (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia) in the execution and implementation of Article IV. RACVIAC has been dealing with the Dayton Peace Agreement from the very beginning, having conducted 17 activities dedicated to this subject matter so far, thus providing a good platform for confidence building in the SEE region. The Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson in Office for Article IV expressed his strong willingness to support RACVIAC, recognized as 'the focal point in the region for dealing with Dayton Article IV’. Ambassador Todorcevski availed himself of the opportunity to thank the OSCE for the longstanding support provided to RACVIAC and the countries of the SEE region.

Background: At the 1995 OSCE Ministerial Council in Budapest, OSCE participating States decided to designate a Personal Representative of the Chairman-in-Office to assist the parties in the former Yugoslavia in their negotiations and implementation of peace and arms control agreements. The mandate for the negotiations and implementation of the Agreement on Sub-Regional Arms Control – to be more precise Article IV, Annex 1-B of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (also called the Dayton Peace Accords) - was to establish "...balanced and stable defence force levels at the lowest numbers consistent with their respective security". Major General Michele Torres was appointed to this position in September 2011. His main task is to assist the parties in implementing the Agreement, ensuring the appropriate verification of the data they provide during the Annual Exchange of Military Information, and supervising the collection and dissemination of all official notifications.

19 Oct 2011

Seminar on Civil –Military Approach in EU Crisis Management

In cooperation with the Ministry of Defence of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* and the Technical Assistance Information Exchange Instrument of the European Commission (TAIEX), RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation conducted a seminar on ‘Civil-Military Approach in EU Crisis Management’ in the period from 19 to 20 October 2011. The purpose of the seminar was to increase awareness of the importance of harmonized civil-military approach in Crisis Management among SEE countries in order to ensure a higher level of preparedness for prospective crises and to harmonize practical and operational solutions with EU standards and regulations in this field.

The seminar gathered more than 30 participants representing Ministries of Defence, Foreign Affairs and the Interior from different EU and SEE countries as well as representatives from relevant academic institutions and organizations. Opening this seminar the Director of RACVIAC, Ambassador Nikola Todorcevski, stressed that ‘many South East European countries are at the doorstep of full-fledged EU membership, being either candidate or potential candidate countries. Therefore, supporting their capacity-building process is of crucial importance, not only for the Region, but for whole Europe as well’. The keynote speech, addressing the EU crisis management structures and tools, was delivered by Mr Dignus Hendrik Zandee, Senior Research Associate at the Netherlands Clingendal Institute. Other guest speakers included Ms Gordana Naumovska, Crisis Management Centre (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*), Mr Pieter Volten, Centre for European Security Studies, Ms Lidija Georgieva, the University of St Cyril and Methodius (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*), LtCol Guisepe Zirone, Arma di Carabinieri (Italy), Mr Branko Kromar, M.Sc., Ministry of Defence (Slovenia), and Mr Niklas Lindskog, Folkebernadotteacademy (Sweden).

Intensified, extended and enhanced cooperation between civil authorities and the military has become an irreplaceable imperative in the field of Crisis Management. During the negotiation process for EU membership, the candidate/potential candidate countries should accept the acquis in a number of fields, including the CFSP and the CSDP of the EU. This implies implementing different EU strategies and other relevant reforms. In that sense, sharing the experience gained during the process of acceptance and implementation of EU standards in Crisis Management with and among SEE countries is of vital importance for their future accession to the EU.

* Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name

12 October

26th MAG Meeting

The 26th semi-annual summit of RACVIAC steering body - the Multinational Advisory Group (MAG), took place in Raktije, Republic of Croatia, from 11 to 12 October 2011 under the Chairmanship of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Meeting gathered more than 40 representatives from the majority of RACVIAC Member States and a representative of the Regional Security Council (RCC). Officially opening the Meeting, MAG Chairperson Zoran Šajinović stressed that, owing to the concept of regional ownership, RACVIAC continued to serve as a premier platform for dialogue on security issues in the region despite the financial constrains. Pursuant to the Meeting Agenda, Director of RACVIAC Ambassador Nikola Todorčevski gave a brief presentation of the Director’s Interim Report. RACVIAC Director underlined that in the reporting period „RACVIAC has acted as a promoter of common values, to be shared by all member countries, touching in a number of its activities the very essence of security cooperation of the region”.

In accordance with the Agenda, RACVIAC Programme Managers Lieutenant Colonel Stefan Miene and Mr Branko Kromar, and Mr Milan Janićijević, acting IRC Pillar Programme Manager, took the floor in order to present the respective programme achievements in the first eight months of the year 2011 and the programme projections for the year 2012-2015. Following their presentations, Colonel Željko Cepanec, RACVIAC Deputy Director, informed the MAG about the current financial issues in the functioning of RACVIAC and the current personnel situation.

This Meeting was also a good opportunity for exchanging information on ratification procedures concerning the new Agreement on RACVIAC in the MAG Member States. The new Agreement, signed during the 23rd MAG Meeting by eight SEECP countries, namely: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Greece, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, and subsequently by Romania in February 2011, has been ratified by four Signatory countries so far - Albania, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* and Montenegro. The remaining Signatory countries informed the audience that their respective ratification processes were in the final stage.

As it is a common practice during autumn meetings, MAG also elected the new MAG Chairperson for the period 2011-2012. As approved by MAG, that position is to be taken by Brigadier General Zyber Dushku, the Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Albanian Armed Forces. MAG used the opportunity to congratulate Mr Šajinović on the successful Chairmanship and expressed hope that he would stay actively involved in the work of RACVIAC. A joint conclusion by the MAG representatives that RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation is one of the most effective initiatives in the region, with good prospects for the future given the full implementation of the regional ownership concept, marked the end of the Meeting.

* Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name

04 Oct 2011

Workshop on Military Base Conversion and Transition of Military Personnel

Workshop on Military Base Conversion and Transition of Military Personnel - Project “Defence Conversion Modalities in SEE – Specific Regional Model”, co-organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation and the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Slovenia, took place in Cerklje ob Krki, Republic of Slovenia, from 04 to 05 October 2011.

After more than 20 workshops on Transition of Military Personnel (TMP) and Military Base Conversion (MBC) over the past six years, it was inevitable to finalise this phase of dealing with defence conversion issues and to produce a handbook reflecting the status of MBC and TMP aspects of defence in SEE countries – within the framework of the project “Defence Conversion Modalities in SEE – Specific Regional Model”.

This workshop brought together Project Areas group members from six SEE countries, namely from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Moldova, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* and Serbia, in order to finalise the project by producing the Project paper, which is to be published by the end of the year. Divided in two Project Areas, one for TMP, chaired by LtCol Davor Kiralj (HR), and the other for MBC, co-chaired by LtCol Sergiu Railean (MD) and LtCol Neven Bajic (HR), national representatives, who had previously completed their work on TMP and MBC questionnaires on their national level, discussed questionnaires, finalized information processing and harmonized requested papers. The aim and the purpose of the Project paper is to provide a realistic reference point for future defence conversion projects not only in the six SEE countries which participated in the Project but also in other SEE countries sharing the defence conversion background, obstacles and problems, financial capabilities and Euro-Atlantic integration path.

* Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name

02 Oct 2011

RACVIAC Director attended the SEDM meeting in Antalya

Director of RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation, Ambassador Nikola Todorcevski, attended the South Eastern Europe Defence Ministerial (SEDM) Process meeting in Antalya, Turkey, from 02-03 October 2011. The meeting was attended by representatives of 16 SEDM member and observer countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Greece, Italy, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Slovenia, the USA, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine), the Commander of the SEEBRIG Multinational Brigade as well as by representatives of JFC Naples, the Regional Cooperation Council and RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation.

SEDM is an initiative for cooperation and dialogue on security issues in the region, commited to strengthening cooperation between the countries of Southeast Europe, Italy and the United States on defence area, in order to support Euro-Atlantic integration of SEE countries. The priorities of the two-year Italian Presidency of SEDM process (2011-2013), having taken the Chairmanship from Bulgaria in July this year, among others, are further strengthening of the SEDM role as a key forum for cooperation and dialogue on the security issues of the region and beyond. In their presentations, Ministers of Defence reaffirmed the importance of NATO's and the EU's open door policy and ongoing efforts for peace and stability. At the same time they confirmed their dedication to the open door policy for all the aspirant states that want to be part of the SEDM initiative. After the official part of the meeting, Ambassador Todorcevski had a bilateral meeting with the host country representative, H.E. Mr İsmet Yilmaz, Minister of national Defence of the Republic of Turkey. Ambassador Todorcevski used the opportunity to express gratitude for the long-standing support provided by Turkey to RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.

* Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name

30 Sep 2011

RACVIAC Director presented Centre's activities to the NATO SEEGROUP

On 30 September 2011, RACVIAC Director Ambassador Nikola Todorcevski presented the Centres's activities to the NATO South East Europe Security Cooperation Steering Group (SEEGROUP) in Brussels. Ambassador Todorcevski briefed the delegates on the history of RACVIAC, its structure, programme, new Strategy and prospects for the Centre's future. The presentation was followed by a Q&A session during which delegates enquired in more detail about RACVIAC.

The SEEGROUP was established in the second half of the year 2000 to support regional practical cooperation in the area of security and defense, as well as to improve harmonisation and coordination among regional countries. The SEEGROUP was established as part of the NATO South East Europe Initiative (SEEI) and, since its inception, it continues to be an important forum that contributes to the regional cooperation. The Group enables participating countries to work together in a very transparent way, to exchange experience related to the security and defence sector, and to launch joint projects and initiatives that contribute to the common goal of strengthening stability and security in the region. The SEEGROUP transparency and dedication to concrete projects and cooperation with relevant regional initiatives contribute to strengthening stability and security in the region and integration into the Euro-Atlantic structures. Pragmatism and flexibility, as some of the most important SEEGROUP principles, have been reflected in the group’s focus on concrete projects and initiatives, such as:

- SEESTUDY - a comparative study of national defence strategies of various regional countries;

- SEECHANGE - exchange of political-military and other early warning, conflict prevention and crisis management information;

- Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW);

- Border Security and Management;

- Support to Defence Reforms;

- Civil Emergency Planing (CEP);

- Clearing House - exchange of information in the field of security;

- SEEPRO – contributing to the fight against terrorism.

The SEEGROUP meeting in Brussels was a perfect opportunity to raise the visibility of RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation and its role in enhancing the level of security cooperation among countries of the SEE region. During his stay in Bruxelles, Ambassador Todorcevski had a meeting with H.E. Ms Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy, during which the two Ambassadors engaged in a conversation about possible future cooperation beetwen RACVIAC and NATO's Public Diplomacy.

14 Sep 2011

RACVIAC Director at the Conference in Belgrade

Director of RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation, Ambassador Nikola Todorcevski, attended the „Final Conference of the NATO/PfP Trust Fund Project for Assistance to Discharged Defence Personnel in the Republic of Serbia”, which took place in Belgrade from 13 to 14 September 2011. The Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Serbia (MoD) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have been implementing the NATO/PfP Trust Fund Project for Assistance to Discharged Military Personnel within the Scope of Defence Sector Reform in Serbia (NTF project) since July 2006.

A final conference hosted by the Ministry of Defence was organised on 13-14 September 2011 to outline project results, share lessons learned and identify best practices to be used as a “model” for the development of similar programmes in the future. At the same time, the September event marked the end of the project and its formal handover to the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Serbia. The Belgrade conference gathered more than 100 representatives and officials from Serbian Ministries, Armed Forces and institutions, donor countries, SEE countries, NATO HQ, International Organization for Migration, and other international and national organizations and institutions dealing with the transition of military personnel and defence reform.

* Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name

08 Sep 2011

2nd MAG POCs Meeting

Continuing the good practice of MAG POCs meetings started in the spring this year, RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation organized the 2nd autumn MAG POCs Meeting on 8th September 2011. The purpose of the meeting, taking place at RACVIAC, was to discuss some current issues and make all the necessary preparations for the forthcoming 26th MAG Meeting, scheduled to take place from 11 to 12 October 2011. The MAG POCs Meeting gathered representatives of twelve (12) Member and Associated member countries, namely from: Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey, as well as RACVIAC staff.

During the meeting, the RACVIAC management and staff provided the participants with updates on the Programme 2011, draft Programme 2012-2015 and the current financial and personnel situation at RACVIAC, which was followed by very productive and constructive discussion. On their part, the representatives of the Signatory countries presented the current status of the ratification process in their respective Governments. It should be noted that only one ratification is missing for the new Agreement on RACVIAC to enter into force as four Signatory countries have so far completed the ratification process. The meeting also offered an excellent opportunity to discuss more intensive and far-reaching cooperation between Member countries, raising awareness regarding the regional ownership concept and strengthening ties among the RACVIAC Member countries and Associate members, in the best interest of security and stability in the region.

* Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name

20 Jul 2011

Delegation of UNDP Croatia at RACVIAC

On 20 July 2011 RACVIAC had the pleasure to receive the visit of Ms Tamara Karaica and Mr Krunoslav Katic, UNDP Croatia, Human security, Project Coordinators. The UNDP delegation was welcomed by RACVIAC Deputy Director Col Zeljko CEPANEC, accompanied by Major Sasa Konjevic, RACVIAC Planning and Liaison Officer for SEE. The main purpose of the visit was the common interest and goal pursued by both organizations, namely promoting and supporting regional cooperation in a number of security issues, including countering transnational security threats, illegal migration and tackling all aspects of cyber security threats. The UNDP delegation expressed their strong willingness to suppport RACVIAC, as co-organisers if possible, in conducting activities of mutual interest on the regional level. In line with that, the representatives of the two organisations discussed organising a joint activity in autumn this year on the topic of Cyber Security which, following the needs-assessment of the countries from the region and regional experts' conclusions, might lead to the development of a longer-term Cyber Security project. The visit was also a good opportunity for Col CEPANEC to express RACVIAC's gratitude for the support received from the UNDP so far.

20 Jun 2011

Farewell reception

On 20 June 2011, RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation organized a farewell reception for LtCol Frederik Jan Besselink, Defence Attaché of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Republic of Croatia, and LtCol Soren Knudsen, Defence Attaché of the Kingdom of Denmark to the Republic of Croatia, who are both finishing their tours of duties and leaving Croatia. Ambassador Nikola Todorčevski, Director of RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation, expressed sincere gratitude, on behalf of all RACVIAC staff and his own, for all the generous support provided to the Centre by the Dutch and the Danish Defence Attaché and their countries, emphasizing that RACVIAC was deeply indebted to them for their unstinting support and unselfish work in promoting RACVIAC in the international community. He also expressed hope that both of them would continue to be involved in RACVIAC’s activities in the future, either as lecturers or guest speakers.

14 Jun 2011

Parliamentary Oversight of the Security Sector - Deployment of Armed Forces Abroad, Lessons Learned and Practical Experiences in SEE

Conference entitled “Parliamentary Oversight of the Security Sector - Deployment of Armed Forces Abroad, Lessons Learned and Practical Experiences in SEE”, co-organized by the Joint Committee for Defence and Security of Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, NATO and RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation, was conducted in Sarajevo (B&H), in the period of 14-15 June 2011.

The Conference, representing the follow-up of the last year’s Conference on Parliamentary Oversight of the Security Sector: “Positive Experiences and Examples of the Parliamentary Committees for Security in SEE” held in Sarajevo, was developed for the purpose of enabling the participants to discuss parliamentary procedures, obstacles and oversight mechanisms in the field of deployment of armed forces abroad.

Focused on the experiences of the countries from the SEE region, the Conference covered several areas of interest: national overviews on the history of deployment of Armed Forces in Peace Support Operations, current efforts in SEE countries to contribute in different forms to PSO under the UN, NATO, the EU or the OSCE mandate, different executive and parliamentary levels of national decision-making procedures, mechanisms and practices in the field of deployment of Armed Forces abroad, best practices and the possible establishment of the military Ombudsman in parliaments of SEE countries.

The Conference gathered around 40 participants from parliamentary committees on international cooperation, defence and security and Ministries of Defence from each of the following countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia. Representatives from NATO HQ – Sarajevo, OSCE – Sarajevo, OSCE – Vienna, USAID – Sarajevo, EUFOR – ALTHEA, DCAF – Geneva, PSOTC and academic community of Bosnia and Herzegovina also took part in the Conference.

* Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name

30 May 2011

Towards a Sustainable Solution for Excess Weapons and Ammunition Policy

Hosted by the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia and co-organized by the International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance (ITF) and RACVIAC-Centre for Security Cooperation, a three-day Conference entitled “Towards a Sustainable Solution for Excess Weapons and Ammunition: Policy, Logistical and Financial Aspects of Excess Weapons and Ammunition Disposal” started today in the Croatian Armed Forces Hall in Pula.

Background: Aging, excess, and unstable stockpiles of conventional weapons and munitions are recognized as posing a dual threat of illicit proliferation and accidental explosion, both of which can lead to causing humanitarian disasters and destabilizing individual countries or regions as a whole. Indeed, it is impossible to neglect a number of incidents involving uncontrolled explosions of obsolete ammunition surpluses which have taken place in the SEE region over the last decade, causing tragic losses of human lives and destruction of property. Furthermore, stockpiles of conventional weapons and munitions pose a potent security threat even if an explosive incident does not take place: they represent a tempting bait for individuals and organized groups who either seek an illegal economic gain by selling stolen weapons and ammunition, or need them for perpetrating other forms of illegal activities.

However, the most logical solution to the problem of excess and unstable stockpiles – their disposal – inevitably brings enormous financial expenses for each state in the Region. One of the main reasons is to be found in an inadequate information exchange among the countries of the Region on their existing disposal capacities. In this light, regional approach to excess weapons and ammunitions disposal is seen as the key to finding a lasting solution to this problem. The purpose of the Conference is to bring together representatives of logistics, policy/planning and finance departments in the MoDs of the regional countries and to provide them with an opportunity to exchange relevant information and experience regarding disposal of excess weapons and ammunition with a view to developing a shared vision of a future solution to this problem. The main objective is to prepare a paper highlighting issues of regional importance in the field of excess weapons and ammunition disposal for the upcoming Defence Ministerial Meeting in Slovenia.

The Conference has gathered 26 participants, civilian and military representatives from respective regional Ministries of Defence, NATO, International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance (ITF) and Small Arms Survey. Among others Conference is attended by Mr Drasko Jovanovic, Deputy Minister for Defence Policy from the Montenegrin Ministry of Defence and Mr Ilija Pilipovic, Assistant Minister for Material Resources, from the Serbian Ministry of Defence. Major General Mate Ostovic opened the Conference on behalf of the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Croatia, while the keynote speech was delivered by Mr Zoran Sajinovic, MAG Chairman.

24 May 2011

Oslo Convention Workshop on Cluster Munitions

The Oslo Convention - Workshop on Cluster Munitions, co-organized with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Croatia, started in RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on 24 May 2011. The workshop, gathering participants and experts from 18 different countries, relevant ministries, agencies, international and national governmental and non-governmental organisations, is RACVIAC’s third activity on this very topic.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions is a very important achievement of the so-called Oslo Process, which started in February 2007 when 46 of the 49 participating states agreed on the political commitment to establish a new, legally binding instrument prohibiting cluster munitions before the end of 2008. The treaty was signed by 94 countries in Oslo in December 2008 and entered into force as binding international law on 1 August 2010, just 15 months after it had opened for signature. Today it has 57 States Parties and 108 States on board. The milestone First Meeting of State Parties was held in November 2010 in Lao PDR – the most cluster-bombed country in the world. A total of 121 countries attended this historic meeting and adopted the potent Vientiane Action plan that condemns the use of cluster munitions and outlines plans for implementation of the treaty. The purpose of this three-day workshop is to share the latest developments in the implementation of the Convention. It will give national and international experts and representatives an opportunity to share their experience and jointly address challenges concerning prohibition of use, stockpiling, production and transfer of these munitions and assistance to civilian and military victims of cluster munitions usage.

The speech by Mr Mario Nobilo, State Secretary for Political Affairs at the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, marked the opening of the workshop. It was followed by the speeches by H.E. Ms Beverly Mercer, Australian Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia, Ms Luisa Vinton, UNDP Resident Representative and Col Zdravko Jakop, Head of Arms Control/Disarmament Department, Croatian Ministry of Defence.

18 May 2011

Civil protection in EU and in SEE

The conference opened today is organised by the Technical Assistance Information Exchange Instrument of the European Commission (TAIEX) in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Croatia and RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation. The loss of human lives and the economic damage that result from an increasing number of natural, technological and environmental disasters have led many countries to recognize the importance of civil protection capacity building and consequently to include it on the list of their top priorities.

The purpose of this conference is to foster joint cooperation in the field of civil protection among SEE authorities as a part of the overall security cooperation in SEE. Furthermore, the event aims to increase awareness of the importance of civil protection among SEE countries in order to ensure a higher level of preparedness for averting the prospective natural, technological or environmental disasters. The improvement of civil protection is a specific, continuous, long-term process which relies heavily on strong political and legal commitment, public understanding, scientific knowledge, careful development planning, accountable enforcement of policies and legislation, effective disaster preparedness and response mechanisms. Therefore, this event has been envisaged as a forum for presenting and explaining the EU acquis civil-protection related issues to national representatives coming from SEE countries.

13 May 2011

Visit of Slovenian Command and Staff College representatives

On 13 May 2011 Slovenian Command and Staff College representatives visited RACVIAC. The delegation was welcomed by RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Nikola TODORCEVSKI, together with higher RACVIAC staff members. LtCol Ewald KELLER, Planning and Liaison Officer, first briefed the delegation on the RACVIAC structure, its history and Programme 2011 and subsequently provided them with detailed information on the forthcoming activities and prospects for the Centre’s future.

Ambassador TODORCEVSKI expressed RACVIAC's gratitude for the long-standing support RACVIAC had received from Slovenia, especially in terms of the personnel secondment. Following the presentation, members of the Slovenian delegation and the hosts engaged in a lively conversation on the role of RACVIAC in SEE region.

18 Apr 2011

First Regional Meeting of Heads of Procurement Departments

The First Regional Meeting of Heads of Procurement Departments, co-organized by RACVIAC-Centre for Security Cooperation, Montenegrin Ministry of Defence, NATO Defence Policy and Planning Division and Regional Cooperation Council, took place in Budva on 18th April 2011.

The purpose of this meeting was to bring together Heads of Procurement Departments within ministries of defence of the countries of South Eastern Europe in order to exchange latest information on procurement issues in their respective countries. Since military procurement is a highly delicate matter, especially in the light of the global financial and economic crisis, the aim of the meeting was to elaborate current procurement needs of participating countries, to identify obstacles in fulfilling procurement projects and to assess the modalities of execution of procurement programmes.

The participants were representatives of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* and Montenegro. The programme was comprised of countries presentations and individual elaborations of the procurement status in participating countries. Mr Frank Boland, Director of planning, NATO Defence Policy planning Division and Mr Efrem Radev, Head of Security Cooperation Unit, Regional Cooperation Council, moderated the working sessions. The meeting confirmed the strong willingness of participating countries to continue with cooperation in defence procurement projects in a more concrete way in the future.

* Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name

14 Apr 2011

The 25th MAG & Budgetary Meeting

The 25th MAG & Budgetary Meeting, the semi-annual summit of RACVIAC’s steering body - the Multinational Advisory Group, took place in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina from 12 to 14 April. The meeting, gathering the majority of member countries of the MAG, was organized by the MAG Chairmanship of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It started on Tuesday 12 April with the Budgetary Meeting, which gave an opportunity to MAG representatives to discuss all relevant issues regarding RACVIAC’s Budget for 2011 and 2012.

Mr Zoran Šajinović, the MAG Chairperson, officially opened the MAG meeting, stressing that the mandate of the Chairman to the Multinational Advisory Group of RACVIAC Centre would contribute to build a positive image of Bosnia and Herzegovina and confirm its status of a reliable and valuable partner in South Eastern Europe. “We will do our best to prove that Bosnia and Herzegovina is ready to provide a new impetus for increasing regional security and cooperation through the concept of regional ownership”, Mr Šajinović said.

The meeting Agenda consisted of a brief presentation of the Director’s Annual Report provided by the Director of RACVIAC Ambassador Nikola Todorčevski, which was followed by the presentation of RACVIAC’s annual programmes for 2011 and 2012 and beyond for each of its three pillars, presented by Lieutenant Colonel Stefan Miene, Mr Branko Kromar, M.Sc. and Mr Milan Janićijević. Colonel Željko Cepanec, Deputy Director, informed all the participants about the proposal to establish a Cyber Security Cell within RACVIAC. In that regard, RACVIAC was subsequently tasked to convene an event (workshop, conference, round table) within existing capacity in which Cyber Security threats, challenges and available resources would be further analyzed.

In addition to that, Colonel Cepanec informed the MAG about the current financial issues in the functioning of RACVIAC and the current personnel situation in the Centre.

During the meeting MAG also endorsed the RACVIAC Strategy 2012-2015, presented by Lieutenant Colonel Ewald Keller, which provides RACVIAC with a basic framework, vision and guidance for the upcoming four-year period, and prolonged the tour of duty of Ambassador Nikola Todorčevski for one additional year (until October 2012).



The whole event finished on the snow-covered mountain Jahorina, where all the participants had an opportunity to continue their conversation in a less formal and more enjoyable atmosphere. In that regard, compliments go to the Ministry of Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina for organizing the dinner and providing unstinting support to RACVIAC in conducting the 25th MAG Meeting.

Chairman's Conclusions 25th MAG Meeting

29 Mar 2011

The EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, Institutional framework, policies and instruments

Rakitje, 29 March 2011 - The seminar opened today is the fruit of joint organisational efforts of the Technical Assistance Information Exchange Instrument of the European Commission (TAIEX), the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration and RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation.

The aim of this event is to support the capacity-building process in the countries of Southeastern Europe that are either official or potential candidates for acquiring full EU membership, as a way of promoting their European integration efforts. The event will help the SEE countries to better prepare for future accession to the EU by enhancing their understanding of the capacity building process and their acceptance of EU standards and values and by providing a common framework for the implementation of the European Security Strategy and its evolving form under the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in SEE.

24 Mar 2011

Basics of SSR Concept, Introducing PSO Related Aspects Seminar

24 March 2011 – RACVIAC Last week, RACVIAC hosted a two-day seminar on Security Sector Reform and its Peace Support Operations (PSO) related aspects. The aim of the seminar was to provide the necessary knowledge of Security Sector Reform to higher military officers and parliamentary and governmental officials engaged in PSO, either on the national (preparatory) level or upon deployment of personnel in the mission area. It also provided an insight into some basic definitions of SSR and documents inaugurating the concept of SSR, with a special emphasis on its PSO related aspects.

The keynote speech, dealing with the concept of security over time and how it is perceived nowdays, was delivered by Mr Vlatko Cvrtila, PhD, Associate professor at the Faculty of Political Science in Zagreb and Defence and National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia. Other guest speakers included Mr Sandro Knezovic, Institute for International Relations, Zagreb; Mr Zeljko Grubesic, Senior expert advisor for defence and security issues, Joint Committee for Defence and Security B&H, Parliamentary Assembly of B&H and Mr. Rohan Maxwell, Chief, Political-Military Advisory Section/ Senior Political-Military Advisor, NATO HQ, Sarajevo.

22 Mar 2011

Inauguration of RACVIAC Conference room

22 March 2011 – RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation officially inaugurated the fully renovated Conference room, courtesy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The opening ceremony was attended by Mr Davor Božinović, Minister of Defence of the Republic of Croatia, H.E. Ms Stella Ronner –Grubačić, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Republic of Croatia, LtCol Frederik Besselink, Netherlands Defence Attaché to the Republic of Croatia, Ms Sanja Bujas-Juraga, Head of the Department for International Security, Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, Col Dražen Bartolac, CAPSOC and barracks commander, as well as by other distinguished guests and all RACVIAC staff.

In his welcome remarks, Director of RACVIAC Ambassador Nikola Todorčevski underlined that from the very beginning RACVIAC had been fully supported not only by RACVIAC core members, but also by associate ones. The Kingdom of the Netherlands, a RACVIAC associate member, had always been perceptive of the Centre’s needs, and the opening of the renovated conference facility was the most tangible sign of their commitment to RACVIAC’s mission in the SEE region, Ambassador said, adding that the new Conference room would cater better to the needs of a growing number of lecturers and participants in the Centre’s activities. He used the opportunity to once again express RACVIAC’s most sincere appreciation to the host country, Republic of Croatia, for all the generous support “RACVIAC almost considers to be subscribed to”.

Speaking on behalf of the donor country, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, H.E. Ms Stella Ronner-Grubačić said that RACVIAC “needs to be applauded for the way how, over the past 10 years, it has adjusted to developments in the region, it has taken on new initiatives and has proved itself to be an institution that matters and that expands.” She emphasized that the Netherlands had always been supportive to RACVIAC and that, although never in the forefront of decision-making, they had found a pleasant role in supporting, advising and providing some of the means to keep RACVIAC on the track.

Being in RACVIAC for the first time as Minister of Defence, Mr Davor Božinović was pleased to see that RACVIAC, originally established as a place for joint training of the regional countries in arms control, had over time transformed in order to keep abreast of the changing needs of the region, both at national levels and in terms of Euro-Atlantic integration. “RACVIAC today covers a broad area of cooperation- security-which means constant modification and adaptation towards new security challenges and overall international development in the area of security, in order to make greater contribution to the needs of the countries”, the Minister said. He used the opportunity to call upon all the SEECP members to make additional efforts to become full members of RACVIAC in the near future, adding that RACVIAC enjoyed full support at the highest level of the Croatian government. Thanking the Netherlands for the noble donation, he also expressed the host country’s great appreciation for their overall support provided to RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and for their long-standing commitment to security and stability in the region.

16 Mar 2011

Visit of Mr Fin Christian Ruge

On 16th March 2011 RACVIAC had the pleasure to receive the visit of Mr Fin Christian RUGE, new POC for RACVIAC in the Norwegian Ministry of Defence. Mr RUGE was welcomed by RACVIAC Deputy Director, Col Željko CEPANEC, together with the Program Managers and Planning and Liaison Officers. Mr RUGE was comprehensively acquainted with the RACVIAC Structure, its Programme 2011, forthcoming activities and the prospects for the Centre’s future. Col CEPANEC expressed RACVIAC's gratitude for the long-standing support RACVIAC had received from Norway. Expressing his satisfaction with the detailed information provided by his hosts, Mr RUGE complimented RACVIAC on previous achievements and ensured the Centre’s Management of the continued support from his country.

04 Mar 2011

Chemical Weapons Convention Seminar

The Chemical Weapons Convention Seminar, co-organized with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), took place at RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation from 28 Feb - 04 Mar 2011.

The seminar focused on provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which has four principal objectives:

- the elimination of chemical weapons and the capacity to develop them

- the verification of chemical nonproliferation

- international assistance and protection in case of CW use

- international cooperation in peaceful use of chemical substances

The seminar, organized annually since 2004, has served a different purpose each year. This year’s seminar was a continuation of a fruitful cooperation between RACVIAC and the OPCW in promoting the implementation of the CWC in SEE, and thus in enhancing regional stability, transparency and trust. It also served as a forum for reinforcing the regional capacity building in the fight against CW. The seminar speakers included the distinguished lecturers from the OPCW, Ms Sanja BUJAS-JURAGA, Head of Department for International Security, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Croatia, as well as H.E. Ms Beverly MERCER, Ambassador of Australia to the Republic of Croatia, who gave a speech on the ”Establishment of the Australia Group and their efforts in harmonizing export controls of chemical weapons precursor chemicals”.

22 Feb 2011

MAG POCs’ Meeting

In the light of the new RACVIAC Agreement and ever-greater regional ownership, RACVIAC organized the first-ever meeting of the MAG Point of Contacts (POCs). The meeting took place on 22nd February 2011 for the purpose of bringing the MAG POCs up to date with the new challenges ahead of RACVIAC, and making the necessary preparations for the forthcoming 25th MAG Meeting, scheduled for April 2011 and to be held in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The MAG POCs’ Meeting gathered 16 participants representing relevant ministries from 14 MAG countries, namely from: Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey, as well as nine RACVIAC’s representatives, all ready to actively engage in discussions.

During the Meeting, the participants were provided with the Programme 2011 and the updates on the current financial and personnel situation at RACVIAC, which was subsequently followed by a lively and productive debate. The representatives of the Signatory countries, expressing their satisfaction with the Romanian signing of the Agreement on RACVIAC, used the opportunity to present the current status of the ratification process in their respective Governments. Next on the Agenda was the draft paper called “RACVIAC Strategy 2012 - 2015”, which had been sent to the MAG POCs prior to the meeting, along with the related comments received from Albania and Slovenia. The participants examined the proposed version and drafted a proposal which will be sent to the MAG for endorsement.

In the final session of the Meeting, the participants were acquainted with the proposal of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and CYBER DEFCON to establish, within RACVIAC, a SE European Regional Cyber Defence Centre. In principle, the idea of increasing the number of educational activities (conferences, seminars, workshops and courses) in the field of Cyber Defence was welcomed by all participants. However, in order to be developed in the right direction, this proposal will require careful deliberations and consultations with the national authorities, as well as the subsequent MAG approval. Therefore, this as well as some other issues and questions still remain open for the upcoming MAG Meeting. The participants agreed that such working gatherings of the MAG POCs could ease the way for better and more comprehensive discussions during the annual assemblies. It should be mentioned that, thanks to the generous contribution of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, this meeting was the first event held in the refurbished Conference room.

* Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name

18 Feb 2011

Romania signed the Agreement

On Friday, 18 February 2011, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Croatia hosted the signing ceremony of the Agreement on RACVIAC by Romania. The celebration ceremony was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence of Croatia as the host country, as well as by distinguished representatives of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Germany, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey, and RACVIAC's senior staff. In his welcome speech, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Croatia Mr Mario Nobilo emphasized that Croatia, as the host country and a member to RACVIAC, was strongly devoted to the prosperity and success of the organization. "During the ten years of the activities of the Centre, significant results in confidence building have been achieved", Mr Nobilo said, adding that good relations with neighbours and beyond were of utmost importance for Croatia.

Mr Nobilo used the opportunity to express his sincere thanks to Germany as a strong supporter to RACVIAC from the very beginning, reminding that Germany was the first bilateral partner to Croatia in establishing RACVIAC. He was also keen to mention that "it is our common interest to have all the SEECP members as State Parties to the Agreement on RACVIAC. Therefore, we call upon all states from this Process to make additional efforts to become full members as soon as possible". State Secretary of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia, Mr Pjer Šimunović, emphasized that the Centre is a unique international organization continuously contributing to the stability and security in the region. He stressed that Croatia was happy to see Romania actively involved in RACVIAC's activities and he thanked Romania for their significant contribution towards enhancing trust and cooperation among security forces in the region.

Singing the Agreement on behalf of Romania, H.E. Ambassador Cosmin George Dinescu availed himself of the opportunity to emphasize and praise the prominent role of RACVIAC in the process of stabilization and development of the SEE region. He promised that "Romania will stay reliable partner to RACVIAC also in the future". RACVIAC's Director Ambassador Nikola Todorčevski said that RACVIAC would continue pursuing the goals of enhancing regional security cooperation on a variety of security issues, ranging from arms control and security sector reform to different aspects of Euro-Atlantic integration. He also used the opportunity to express his "genuine appreciation to all member countries and partner organizations for their outstanding and very considerable on-going support to RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation". Having signed the Agreement, Romania became the ninth country to do so. According to the information available, four Signatory countries have completed the ratification process, which means that there is only one more missing for the new Agreement on RACVIAC to legally enter into force.

* Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name

04 Feb 2011

RACVIAC’s delegation in Bucharest

RACVIAC’s Deputy Director Col Cepanec, accompanied by Lt Col Nedim Ulusan, Programme Manager and Mr Milan Janićijević, Subject Matter Expert, paid an official visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Romania and the SECI Centre in Bucharest. The first meeting, held at the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was hosted by Mrs Anca Jurcan, RO MFA Deputy Director. Speaking on behalf of her Ministry, Mrs Jurcan expressed Romania’s support to RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and their readiness to help the RACVIAC programme. In that direction, they are willing to prepare the ground for hosting one of RACVIAC’s activities in Romania. The second meeting was held at the facilities of the SECI Centre where RACVIAC’s delegation was welcomed by the SECI Director Mr Gürbüz Bahadir, who also chaired the meeting. The purpose of the meeting was the initial coordination regarding the conference entitled “The Changing Face of Organized Crime in SEE”, to be jointly co-organized by RACVIAC and the SECI - Regional Centre for Combating Transborder Crime.

01 Feb 2011

Director's visit to German Embassy

On 1 February 2011, Director of RACVIAC Ambassador Nikola Todorcevski, accompanied by Col Stefan Miene, RACVIAC’s Programme Manager, visited the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Zagreb, Croatia. RACVIAC’s delegation was welcomed by Mr Andreas Haack, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Federal Republic of Germany in Croatia. The purpose of the visit was signing of the Financial Agreement between RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and Germany for the year 2011. Germany’s allocation of up to 60,000 Euro will be used to support seminars, courses and workshops included in the “Programme of Activities 2011” within RACVIAC’s “Cooperative Security Environment (CSE), with focus on Arms Control” Pillar. The German hosts availed themselves of the opportunity to emphasize the prominent role of RACVIAC in the process of stabilization and development of the South East Europe region. RACVIAC’s representatives, on the other hand, acknowledged the cooperation with Germany as a mainstay of SEE region’s progress and security for over a decade. Owing to German continuous contributions, RACVIAC focused primarily on the training of verification experts in order to lay the groundwork for implementing arms control agreements such as the Dayton Agreement, the Vienna Document, the Open Skies Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Oslo Convention. In this way, RACVIAC and Germany significantly contributed to enhancing trust and cooperation among security forces in the region and beyond. Adapting to the ever-changing landscape of security threats in our region, RACVIAC has subsequently broadened its scope to develop into a veritable regional forum for cooperation and dialogue on a variety of security issues, ranging from arms control and security sector reform to aspects of Euro-Atlantic integration.

Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | Jun | Jul | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec

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