News 2013

12 December 2013

Conference on the Impact of Cybercrime on the Economic Environment of the South East European Region Held in RACVIAC

A Conference on the Impact of Cybercrime on the Economic Environment of the South East European Region was held in RACVIAC on December 11th and 12th 2013. The conference was a continuation of a series of events dedicated to the topic of cyber threat and protection of sensitive information. Even though many steps are undertaken on a national, regional and global level to fight this phenomenon, we are witnesses that the rate of cybercrimes and the cost of prevention are on the rise. Cyber-attacks could threaten whole economies since cyberspace seems to be a central system of our societies. For this reason it is necessary to continue to look for security solutions in order to protect business sensitive information and to reduce the cost of protection and damages. It is also important to continue with close cooperation between the SEE countries in strengthening institutional capabilities for the prevention of cybercrime.

The event was opened by RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic who warmly welcomed all participants and expressed his confidence that the event would provide fruitful discussions and a valuable exchange of information. Director Mandic also expressed his gratitude to the speakers taking part at the event: Dr. Metodi Hadji-Janev, Assistant Professor of International Law from the Military Academy “General Mihailo Apostolski” – Skopje, Professor Olivera Injac from the Montenegrin Faculty of Humanistic Studies, Mr Ivan Mijatović, Chief Police Inspector from the Croatian Ministry of Interior, and Mr Bojan Krištof, Senior Inspector, Croatian Anti-Money Laundering Office. He also welcomed Mr Predrag Pale, professor at the Department for Electronic Systems and Information Processing, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, University of Zagreb, who joined the event on-line from Brussels.

The objectives of the conference were to enable participants to exchange experience and knowledge in dealing with cybercrime as a contemporary global phenomenon; to discuss the specificity of the economy in the SEE region as a space for growing cybercrime; to raise awareness of the safety of business sensitive information and consequences of corporate espionage as well as of the cost of cybercrime in the contemporary area of internet banking; and to promote the importance of cooperation in response to cyber threats on a national and regional level with the aim of strengthening institutional capacities.

Following two days of informative presentations given by the speakers and fruitful discussions that ensued, it was concluded that many steps were being undertaken on the national, regional and global levels to fight cybercrime, while it was also noted that it was important to continue close cooperation among South East European countries through dialogue and exchange of information in order to protect sensitive information and to reduce the cost of protection.

Furthermore it was emphasized that a comprehensive approach to cybercrime must be adopted on the national and international level in order to strengthen national cyber security capabilities and to contribute to regional and global cyber security, which includes protection of a wide spectrum of targets ranging from individual internet users to critical infrastructure.

The need for education and training about information security starting at a young age was also stressed in order to avoid manipulation. This can be done through adoption of education curriculum in schools for children and training for employees at their work places. It was noted that in order to accomplish these goals, legislation must be amended to overcome challenges or barriers to cooperation which are mainly of a political, financial, organizational and legal nature. Therefore, it was also concluded that it was important to reach individuals who were in a position to make decisions in order to mitigate these obstacles and thus facilitate cooperation among countries or organizations.

06 December 2013

Regional Conference on Establishing Measures Necessary to Achieve Effectiveness of Systems for Civil Protection Held in RACVIAC

A regional conference on Establishing Measures Necessary to Achieve Effectiveness of Systems for Civil Protection was held in RACVIAC from December 5th to 6th 2013.

The purpose of the event was to foster joint coordination and cooperation among the SEE countries’ civil protection and crisis management authorities and to promote increased awareness of the importance of disaster risk reduction with the goal of reducing losses caused by natural, technological and environmental disasters. The main objectives were: to support the development and introduction of international standards in modern civil protection systems; share information, views and experience on disaster risk reduction systems set in place in the region, as well as on the ongoing activities; share knowledge, experiences and best practices on disaster risk reduction strategies through interagency, regional and international cooperation with regard to new global challenges; and propose the way forward for the cooperation in the field of civil protection and crisis management.

In his opening address RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandić extended a warm welcome to all those taking part in the conference, noting that it was a motivating and challenging subject matter. He noted that the conference was a follow-up to the event on “Civil Protection in the European Union and in South-Eastern Europe” held in RACVIAC in May 2011 and co-organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integrations of the Republic of Croatia and the TAIEX Instrument of the European Commission. He added that as we all know, natural and man-made disasters know no borders. On the other hand, closer cooperation in civil protection is on the rise as various countries and organisations rush to each other's aid during an emergency. Hence, RACVIAC has recognized the importance of effectiveness of Systems for Civil Protection as one of the security issues that should be further promoted and explored.

Over the course of the conference it was noted that Civil Protection Systems in SEE countries were similar in their establishment, approach, achievements and in the problems they faced. The conference opened several dilemmas which require greater commitment by all SEE countries in order to overcome them in the future. Such dilemmas include: finding a better definition of HNSS, implementation and practical application of HNSS in all countries, in all regions and in all cases.

It was concluded that there was a need for closer cooperation between countries on concrete topics of Civil Protection System in the future. Meaning that the responsible institutions in the field of Civil Protection System have marked a noticeable development in facing disasters and risks, but there is still work to be done. Furthermore, the legislative and institutional frameworks of Civil Protection should be corrected and improved in terms of facilitating and increasing efficiency of all competent entities in the system.

There is a need on the national and international level to create a broad database concerning Civil Protection System. Justification for this can be found in the fact that a concrete resource where all documents pertaining to this issue can be found does not exist. There is also a need for broader participation of all subjects which comprise a Civil Protection System, especially the participation of the civil sector which is not included enough in this field. Political will and commitment is crucial in supporting measures and activities in terms of creating better legal and institutional conditions for actors involved in Civil Protection System.

27 November 2013

RACVIAC Delegation Visits Serbian Ministry of Defence

A delegation from the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation consisting of Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic and Programme Manager for International and Regional Cooperation Marija Zuzek visited the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Serbia and met with Serbian Minister of Defence Nebojsa Rodic.

Photo courtesy of MoD Republic of Serbia In his introduction Director Mandic noted the importance of the period in which the Republic of Serbia holds the position of MAG Chair as a chance to promote and advance existing regional capacities of the Republic of Serbia. He went on to thank the Serbian Ministry of Defence for their support to RACVIAC at this time and during the previous period when Croatia held the position of MAG Chair.

Director Mandic especially emphasized the contribution the Republic of Serbia has made to achieving professional and open relations from the moment he assumed the position of RACVIAC Director, as well as the participation of the Republic of Serbia in the realization of regional cooperation by seconding a representative, contributing financially and participation of representatives in the Centre's activities.

Photo courtesy of MoD Republic of Serbia Director Mandic informed the Serbian representatives of the visible progress RACVIAC had made and its role as the only international organization in the field of security in South East Europe. He also noted that the RACVIAC budget was stable thanks to the active contribution of all countries. Furthermore, he pointed out the good cooperation with other regional and sub-regional initiatives reflected in nine memorandums of understanding that have been signed. With this, he emphasized that a new quality of cooperation had been achieved with significant efforts made to achieve synergy and save financial means, while overlapping of activities had been avoided.

Priorities for activities during the Republic of Serbia's chairmanship of the MAG were defined, while the need was stressed to continue good communications with the MAG Chairperson, Major General Milan Mojsilovic.

Director Mandic was invited by the Serbian Minister of Defence, Mr Nebojsa Rodic, to visit Belgrade again in March of 2014.

21 November 2013

Heads of Delegations at Proliferation Security Initiative Exercise Visit RACVIAC

A delegation of the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, headed by Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic and consisting of Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop and Public Affairs Officer Captain Branko Lozancic attended the Southeast European Regional Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) Executive Table Top Exercise held in Zagreb on Thursday November 21st, 2013.

The PSI is a response to the growing challenge posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), their delivery systems, and related materials worldwide. The PSI builds on efforts by the international community to prevent proliferation of such items, including existing treaties and regimes. It is consistent with and a step in the implementation of the UN Security Council Presidential Statement of January 1992, which states that the proliferation of all WMD constitutes a threat to international peace and security, and underlines the need for member states of the UN to prevent proliferation.

The exercise held in Zagreb was intended to fulfil several objectives: - increase regional understanding of, and commitment to, upholding the PSI State of Interdiction Principles; - Introduce and expand on the Critical Capabilities and Practices (CCP) effort, to include sharing information on available CCP tools; - Increase participating States' understanding of regional proliferation trends; - Understand the role of sanctions and specific courses of action for inspecting and identifying shipments of proliferation concern; - Establish future regionally focused Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) activities designed to increase coordination on activities to prevent WMD proliferation; - Increase understanding of the role of international CWMD control regimes.

RACVIAC was invited, among other international organization, to present itself and the activities it conducts in the field of security. During his address Director Mandic underlined the activities RACVIAC has conducted in several related fields including border management, regional commodity identification training – for dual-use and military goods as well as effective practices in the implementation of UNSCR 1540.

During the afternoon the heads of delegations from South East Europe as well as a PSI Advisor from the USA and a CBRN CoE Project Coordinator from the European Commission Joint Research Centre taking part at the PSI Exercise took the opportunity to visit the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and see the facilities the Centre possess and meet the people working there. Programme managers outlined the fields being dealt with by their respective pillars and provided the visiting delegation with details regarding individual activities. It was noted that RACVIAC could act as a facilitator in the region for further activities under the Proliferation Security Initiative.

20 November 2013

Ottawa Convention Seminar Held in RACVIAC

From November 19th to 20th an activity titled Ottawa Convention Seminar: Human Security and Cooperation was held at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation in cooperation with the Federal Republic of Germany, the Croatian Government Office for Mine Action and the Croatian Mine Action Centre.

The Antipersonnel Mine Ban Convention/Mine Ban Treaty (commonly referred to as the Ottawa Convention) is the most comprehensive international instrument for ridding the world of mines. It deals with everything from mine use, production and trade, to victim assistance, mine clearance and stockpile destruction. Thus, it is the first explicitly humanitarian security convention in the world.

Mine action involves all activities that aim to reduce the social, economic and environmental impact of landmines, unexploded ordnances (UXOs) and explosive remnants of war (ERW) in general.

The purpose of this seminar was to foster dialogue on the implementation of the Ottawa Convention and its obligations on the regional level and beyond, particularly in accordance with Article 6 of the Treaty – International Cooperation and Assistance which calls on any State Party "in a position to do so" to assist other States Parties in aiding mine victims, providing demining assistance and helping with mine destruction.

The seminar was opened by RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic who said that it was a genuine pleasure to host distinguished guest speakers and representatives from the countries gathered, at the facilities of RACVIAC and he expressed a warm welcome to all. Director Mandic also noted that the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation had been organizing Ottawa Convention seminars for the countries of South East European region since 2000. He underlined that RACVIAC's aim was to develop a vigorous discussion about the Mine Ban Treaty, the most comprehensive international instrument for ridding the world of mines.

During introductions Canadian Ambassador to Croatia Ms Louise LaRocque greeted all those gathered underlining the importance of such activities and expressing a sincere desire for South East European region to be mine free. Ms Dijana Plestina, the director of the Croatian Government Office for Mine Action, touched upon the human aspect of the convention noting that in order for life to function properly areas need not only be mine safe, but rather mine free. Drazen Jakopec, the director of the Croatian Mine Action Centre, warmly welcomed all those gathered and wished everyone a fruitful and productive activity. Finally, LtCol Jörg Rauber, Military Attaché at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Republic of Croatia, highlighted the efforts of his country in funding such activities and expressed his confidence that the event would provide concrete results.

During the first day of the seminar topics of discussion included: international cooperation and assistance, development of new technologies in mine action and the role of animals in mine action processes. An interesting topic evoking special interest by participants was the use of bees in mine detection.

During the second day participants visited Sisak-Moslavina County where they were given a small presentation in front of the Kotar Forrest, where landmines are still present, presenting the mine problem in the wider area. Participants then visited the CROMAC headquarters in Sisak where they viewed a presentation of the Croatian-Hungarian project titled Rehabilitation of Land Mine Contaminated Sites in the Drava Danube Area.

Following the seminar participants took home knowledge of the most recent trends and developments in the field of mine action. The importance of cooperation in the field was especially emphasized as it is a complex problem that countries in the region and beyond must resolve through sharing experiences and knowledge.

19 November 2013

Danish Ambassador Visits the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation

Danish Ambassador to Croatia, H.E. Poul Erik Dam Kristensen visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Tuesday November 19th, 2013 in the company of Commander Felix Ebbestad, head of the Cooperation and Programmes Branch of Danish Defence Command and Major Niels Randloev, desk officer for Europe and China.

The Danish delegation was welcomed by RACVIAC director Ambassador Branimir Mandic who provided them with information regarding current activities being conducted by RACVIAC. Director Mandic mentioned that RACVIAC had improved cooperation with members and partners pointing out that members were participating more actively through finances and personnel. He said that RACVIAC had signed 9 MOUs with other organizations with an aim to avoid duplication and achieve synergy of efforts. Director Mandic also noted that although RACVIAC had always cooperated with NATO and the EU, this cooperation had been improved with Croatia assuming the role of point of contact with NATO and Austria with the EU.

Director Mandic also pointed out that RACVIAC was improving cooperation with the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and that the RCC Secretary General, Mr Goran Svilanovic, had addressed the MAG in October suggesting that his organization would be shifting its focus to economic issues and channelling the security field to RACVIAC. Director Mandic further noted that RACVIAC was adopting a project approach to its activities in order to improve quality and match the needs of its members.

Ambassador Kristensen thanked the RACVIAC staff for the information they had provided noting that stability was of a special nature and importance to the region. Commander Ebbestad pointed out the Danish contribution to the project regarding search and rescue noting that it was a good platform to engage across borders as it was a topic of mutual interest by all countries. He noted that perhaps this experience could be broadened to include other issues such as civil preparedness and disaster management.

In conclusion director Mandic thanked the Danish delegation for visiting and presented Ambassador Kristensen with a RACVIAC medallion. Signing the RACVIAC guestbook, Ambassador Kristensen wrote “It was a pleasure, and very useful, to be briefed about RACVIAC and its useful work towards regional stability. All the best for the future”.

13 November 2013

Arms Control Symposium Began in RACVIAC Today

The Arms Control Symposium organized by the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation's Cooperative Security Environment Pillar got underway today in RACVIAC. The Symposium is a reflection of the political ambition to uphold existing conventional arms control treaties.

The purpose of the event is to build on the experience of the last year's symposium and to present the latest developments in arms control, with the aim of opening new perspectives on confidence-building measures for peace and stability in Europe.

Opening the Symposium RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandić welcomed all representatives, expressing his sincere appreciation for their presence. He noted that the event had plenty of notable objectives, such as to give an overview of the situation regarding military capabilities in future conventional arms control, the role of cooperative security and NATO, as well as the role of arms control in resolving the remaining security issues in Europe. Director Mandić said he hoped these interesting topics would provoke fruitful discussions aimed at supporting our countries’ efforts to fulfil their international obligations according to international standards. Ambassador Mandić also emphasized that RACVIAC was very proud to be able to provide the platform for constructive dialogue and close cooperation, adding that a regional approach to security issues was a crucial prerequisite for peace and stability in the region and beyond. He added he was confident that we all shared the opinion that lasting security could only be achieved through cooperation and partnership between countries, since undoubtedly we couldn’t cope with all current and emerging security challenges alone. He then handed the floor over to the event moderator, Major General Michele Torres, the Personal representative of the OSCE Chairperson in Office for Article IV, Annex B-1 of Dayton Peace Agreement.

In opening Major General Torres expressed his pleasure to be attending the Symposium noting that it was an important event for arms control in South East Europe. He briefly touched upon the focus of work being done by the OSCE in terms of arms control. He noted that in this regard, OSCE ideas could be exported outside the region while much had been done in the field (with the help of RACVIAC) and that he positively looks forward to the future.

The symposium will serve as a platform for discussions on the fundamental role of arms control treaties as a cornerstone of European and SEE security.

The objectives of the symposium are to examine: • The objectives and means of a modern, stability-orientated pan-European arms control regime; • The situation of the military capabilities in future conventional arms control; • The role of cooperative security and NATO; • The role of arms control in resolving the remaining security issues of Europe; • New arms control requirements from a military perspective; • The future of arms control and the modern force capabilities.

12 November 2013

RACVIAC Delegation Visits CARITAS Shelter for the Homeless in Rakitje

A RACVIAC delegation led by Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop, and consisting of Public Affairs Officer Captain Branko Lozančić, and IT Administrator Mr Ivan Ivnik, visited the CARITAS Shelter for the Homeless in Rakitje today. The purpose of the visit was to donate a computer to be used in the Shelter's reading room.

Deputy Director Jakop met with the head of the Shelter, Mr Ivan Mavrek, and discussed the work that they do in helping the homeless stand on their feet. Mr Mavrek informed the delegation about the history of the Shelter noting that in 1993 it had been a home for refugees, and later it had become a shelter for the homeless. He told of the hardships people who spend time at the shelter face and of the successes the shelter has had in helping people find their way in life. Mr Mavrek added that since 2003 over 500 people have lived at the shelter.

Deputy Director Jakop said that the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation was glad to be able to contribute to aiding those in need in some small way.

04 November 2013

The Workshop on The Links between Terrorism and Organized Crime got underway today in Antalya, Turkey

The workshop on “The Links between Terrorism and Organized Crime” , jointly organized by the Counter-Terrorism Committee, Executive Directorate UN (CTED), the Southeast European Law Enforcement Centre (SELEC), the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and the RACVIAC Centre for Security Cooperation, with the generous support of the Republic of Turkey and the United States of America began today in Antalya, Turkey.

Security Council resolution 1373 (2001) notes with concern the close connection between international terrorism and transnational organized crime, illicit drugs, money-laundering, illegal arms-trafficking and illegal movement of nuclear, chemical, biological and other potentially deadly materials, and in this regard emphasizes the need to enhance coordination of efforts on national, subregional, regional and international levels in order to strengthen a global response to this serious challenge and threat to international security (paragraph 4).

Terrorism and organized crime are linked in numerous ways. Terrorists frequently use ordinary crime in order to finance their activities and, in some cases, the lure of profit from ordinary crime may even take priority over the “terrorist agenda.” Ordinary criminal organizations have also been known to adopt terrorist means. Terrorists and criminal groups may purposefully link up in order to multiply their forces and many modern organizations represent “hybrids” between terrorist and ordinary criminal groups.

The purpose of the workshop is to provide a forum in which representatives of South-East European countries, international, regional and sub-regional organizations and mechanisms can discuss regional trends in addressing the links between terrorism and organized crime and share their respective good practices and challenges in that regard, with the overall aim of enhancing regional cooperation in this area.

30 October 2013

RACVIAC Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop Attended the Conference on Conventional Arms Control in Europe Held at Wilton Park, UK

RACVIAC Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop, attended the Conference on Conventional Arms Control in Europe held at Wilton Park, UK from 28 – 29 October 2013. The event was organized in association with the UK Ministry of Defence and the US Department of State. Participants at the conference discussed: Military capabilities and the potential for conflict in the Euro-Atlantic region; how we can measure and/or quantify today's European conventional military capabilities; The Nordic-Baltic regional security environment and Experiences and lessons learned from other conventional arms control and transparency agreements.

Brigadier General Jakop addressed those gathered on the topic of the Dayton Article IV Agreement from an implementer's perspective. He underlined the role of the Agreement in building confidence and security, which is evident in the more intensive cooperation in the process of implementing all aspects of the Agreement (conduct of inspections and the reductions process). General Jakop noted that the purpose of the Agreement, when forced upon the signatory parties, had been to halt the regional arms control race and achieve balance, which was successful. He also noted that a significant amount of surplus armaments that fall under the Agreement had been destroyed (9787 pieces of heavy armaments had been reduced since the implementation of the Agreement began in 1996). He also pointed out that all parties to the Agreement had decreased their amounts of armaments significantly below ceilings.

General Jakop emphasized that the Dayton Article IV Agreement is the only arms control treaty that had been forced upon the signatory parties and would be later transferred to their ownership, where the countries would assume responsibility for its further development in cooperation with international partners.

25 October 2013

Regional Seminar on the OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security for Parliamentarians Concluded in Konjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, in co-operation with the BiH Parliamentary Assembly Joint Committee on Defence and Security with the support of the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre, NATO, the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the RACVIAC Centre for Security Co-operation concluded a two-day regional seminar for parliamentarians on the OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security in Konjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Speaking to those gathered RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Branimir Mandic, said that the idea for organizing the Seminar on the OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico–Military Aspects of Security and for emphasizing the importance of the Code of Conduct for successful security sector reforms in South Eastern Europe (SEE) originates from the RACVIAC Strategy 2012-2015 which highlights enhancement of security cooperation in the SEE region as one of the most important objectives. Hence, each consecutive seminar should be designed to meet the most challenging Security Sector Reform related issues relevant to the region and possibly beyond. He added that regional seminars and workshops of such are regarded as a very appropriate and useful tool form promoting the objectives of the Code of Conduct. Ambassador Mandic also took an active role in moderating the panel on “Defence and Security Sector Oversight: The role of parliament in overseeing the defence and security sector, including the military, border and intelligence services as well as other security sectors.”

The seminar was attended by 45 members of parliaments, experts and policy makers from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Federal Republic of Germany, Montenegro, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Serbia, Slovenia and the Swiss Confederation.

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

25 October 2013

RACVIAC Delegation meets in Austria with Partners

A delegation of the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, consisting of Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic, Planning and Liaison Officer for Western Europe and International Organizations Colonel Ferdinand Klinser MSD and IRC Pillar Programme Manager Ms Marija Zuzek met with several major partners from October 21st to 22nd 2013 in Vienna, namely representatives of the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the OSCE and other International Organizations, as well as Major General Michele Torres – the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for Article IV of Annex 1B of the Dayton Peace Accords.

Within the working meeting with Ambassador Dr Jandl, the Security Policy Director of the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs of Austria, the role of Austria as a Partner country for RACVIAC in EU related issues was streamlined and diversified and a Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) related Conference in partnership with the Austrian Ministry of Defence and Sports was discussed and envisaged to be carried out in Vienna, Austria in the spring of 2014.

Following the inaugural visit of February 2013 to representatives of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between RACVIAC and UNODC on October 21st in Vienna, officially confirming possibilities for deepening and widening cooperation between the two organizations with a specific focus on the UNODC’s Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe 2012-2015, which is aimed at working in strong partnership with regional organizations and officials. The RACVIAC management’s intention is to utilize the MoU in order to aid in developing and further stabilizing RACVIAC following its Strategy 2012-2015. The essential goals and tangible cooperation activities based on the new MoU and RACVIAC’s 2014 Programme were explored through a highly productive, efficient and promising meeting with the representatives of UNODC holding key positions for future cooperation with RACVIAC: Mr Aldo Lale-Demoz, Director for Operations, Ms Ekaterina Kolykhalova, Programme Officer - Regional Section for Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean and numerous experts in other fields of interest.

A consultative meeting was also attended with Ambassador Vuk ZUGIC the Permanent Representatives of the Republic of Serbia and Ambassador Tomislav Leko of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the OSCE and other International Organizations.

Director Mandic explained the basic framework of the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, its visions, ideas and program development as well as details for 2014 activities, seeking synergy and harmonization to avoid duplication of efforts, avoid redundancies and to better utilize resources.

Another remarkable and prominent contact was established with the visit to The Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe (IDM) which addresses current issues regarding the Danube region, Central and Southeast Europe to enhance knowledge about the region and promote good neighbourly relations.

Former Austrian vice-chancellor Dr Erhard Busek has been the chairman of the Institute (IDM) since 1995. From January 2002 until June 2008 Dr Busek served as Special Co-ordinator of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe. Furthermore he is the Coordinator of the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative (SECI), and President of the European Forum Alpbach. Since 2008, Dr Busek has also agreed to advise the Economic Initiative for Kosovo in promoting foreign direct investments in Kosovo.

As a gateway and facilitator institution, IDM makes an important contribution to cooperation in the fields of research, culture, politics, economics and administration. At the same time, IDM sees itself as a clearinghouse for concerns of the Danube region and Central and Southeast Europe, by supporting the work of embassies, trade missions, cultural institutes and national tourist offices of the countries of the Danube region and Central and Southeast Europe in Austria, as well as the work of Austrian missions to these countries.

As this was the inaugural visit to IDM for RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Mandic, he wanted to use the opportunity to introduce himself in person and to present the management’s approach that will be utilized in order to develop and further stabilize RACVIAC following its Strategy 2012-2015. Being a profound authority, Dr Busek praised the current achievements and developments of RACVIAC and expressed a firm commitment to an open door policy. In particular he emphasized the possibility in line with his Next Generation Support by the enabling of recent graduates and young professionals to participate in RACVIAC’s Staff.

10 October 2013

30th MAG and Budgetary Meeting held in Rakitje from 9-10 October, 2013

The 30th MAG and Budgetary Meeting, the semi-annual summit of RACVIAC’s steering body - the Multinational Advisory Group (MAG), was held in Rakitje from 9-10 October. The meeting gathering the majority of member countries of the MAG, as well as a representative of the Regional Cooperation Council, was organized by the MAG Chairmanship of the Republic of Croatia. The meeting began on Wednesday 9 October with the Budgetary Meeting at which MAG representatives had an opportunity to discuss in detail relevant issues regarding the RACVIAC budget implementation for 2013 and projections for the future. Following the meeting, Mr Goran Svilanovic, the Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council, had an opportunity to address the representatives as a special guest.

On Thursday 10 October, the MAG Meeting took place, opened by Chairperson Ms Vesna Batistc Kos. In her opening address Ms Bastistic Kos welcomed the MAG representatives and took the opportunity to reflect upon developments that took place during her chairmanship. She noted that the RACVIAC programme was well developed while relations with NATO and the EU were becoming stronger as well as relations with other relevant initiatives such as UNODA. It was further noted that Dayton Article IV state parties saw RACVIAC as a possible forum for assisting other regions in post-conflict arms control. Ms Batistic Kos also took the opportunity to congratulate Romania and Turkey for ratifying the RACVIAC Agreement.

The meeting Agenda consisted of a presentation of the Director's Interim Report, provided by RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic, who highlighted achievements since the last MAG Meeting. Director Mandic thanked Romania and Turkey for ratification of the RACVIAC agreement and underlined that bilateral relations with member countries and others were encouraging, noting that a common understanding and approach had been achieved that he hoped would continue in the future. Furthermore he emphasized that memorandums of understanding had been signed with almost all regional and sub-regional organizations stressing that they were living agreements that would result in concrete activities being organized.

Director Mandic particularly noted that cooperation with the RCC was going well and that the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation would be the main implementer of security initiatives in the region. He also pointed out that cooperation with NATO and the EU had been strengthened. The Republic of Austria will provide a channel of cooperation with the EU and the Republic of Croatia with NATO. He also took the opportunity to present ongoing challenges facing RACVIAC, particularly regarding the issues of secondment of personnel.

RACVIAC Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop, informed the MAG representatives about the current personnel situation in the Centre, which is the biggest challenge the Centre is currently facing, as a significant number of seconded personnel completed their mandates at the Centre during the summer.

The Deputy Director’s presentation was followed by the presentations given by RACVIAC Programme Managers, Colonel Zafer Kilic, Mr Branko Kromar, M.Sc. and Ms Marija Zuzek, M.Sc. with regard to the programme implementation in 2013 and projections for 2014 and 2015.

In addition, Colonel Ferdinand Klinser, RACVIAC Planning and Liaison Officer for Western European Countries and International Organizations informed the MAG about the work of RACVIAC Programme Development Group, introducing a project-oriented approach.

In conclusion, the MAG accepted the recommendations form the Budgetary Meeting held the day before as well as draft MAG conclusions.

The event was completed with a dinner hosted by RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic, where participants had a chance to engage in fruitful discussion in a more relaxed atmosphere.

09 October 2013

Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council, Mr. Goran Svilanovic Addresses MAG Budgetary

On 9 October 2013, Mr Goran Svilanovic, the Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation as a special guest at the fall MAG – Budgetary meeting. Following the meeting Mr Svilanovic was given the opportunity to address the representatives attending.

Mr Svilanovic shared with the representatives his thoughts related to regional cooperation in South East Europe (SEE) within the area of security. He noted that with clear support from the South East Europe Cooperation Process (SEECP) and EU, the RCC Secretariat had laid the framework to re-focus its work in accordance with the needs of SEE. He added that in the increasingly gloomy socio-economic outlook for the Western Balkans, one piece of good news that stood out was the emergence of a new regional strategic framework – South East Europe 2020: Jobs and Prosperity in a European Perspective. This regional growth strategy is developing under RCC's leadership and shows the long way the region has travelled: from broad regional cooperation commitments to a clear vision for common growth, from principled statements to quantifiable common objectives.

The Secretary General further explained that the Ministers of Economy from SEE came together to adopt 11 regional targets to be achieved in the areas of investment, trade, employment, education and governance by 2020. He went on to say that increasing intra-regional trade by 240%, productivity by a third and employment by 5% – as some of these targets stipulate – were all challenging feats to reach by 2020, especially in the current economic environment; but they provided a clear idea of where we want to be at the end of the decade. He pointed out that EU accession related reforms should be coupled with sound economic, fiscal, social and other structural policies that would help countries reach an equal footing with the rest of the European family.

Mr Svilanovic went on to outline in detail the RCC Secretariat's work in the field of security cooperation focused in two directions: 1) supporting and enhancing existing cooperation and 2) initiating new cooperation mechanisms. Concerning the support of existing cooperation, the RCC Secretariat works closely with the EU and NATO to imbed EU and NATO principles into regional security cooperation in SEE and transmit EU and NATO work regionally to make country-specific work more effective. This includes supporting implementation of EU and NATO's Security Sector Reform (SSR) programme and on the regional level stimulating cooperation through various regional fora including the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.

Mr Svilanovic also elaborated how the RCC Secretariat initiates new cooperation identifying cooperation vacuums and working to ensure the necessary political will as a precondition for expert-level cooperation and creation of regional mechanisms.

The Secretary General described the various regional fora resulting from the RCC-initiated cooperation and briefly touched upon recent events in the field of security cooperation. He added that the RCC would initiate a regional process of structuring the information flow among the regional security initiatives and task forces and relevant national security institutions, thus enabling structured regional exchange of information on the principles of “client needs” and “need to share”.

Mr Svilanovic particularly noted that progress has been made in strengthening coordination among regional organizations active in justice and home affairs and security cooperation, where RACVIAC played an important role. Several areas of convergence and complementarities were identified, in which the RCC Secretariat supported the NATO International Secretariat ideas for the region to implement them with RACVIAC's support. He also emphasized that the RCC has developed a series of activities with RACVIAC on fostering dialogue between defence ministries and the media to increase regional cooperation through knowledge transfer by disseminating relevant international standards and building a more open and stable environment in the region, which he deemed as successful.

In closing, Mr Svilanovic underlined a number of points related to direct cooperation between the RCC and RACVIAC. He said that in the present context of financial crisis the streamlining process would continue and RACVIAC could and should play an important role as a Regional Centre for Security Cooperation together with the partner organizations that RACVIAC has signed memorandums of understanding with. He added that the RCC would continue to provide political support to the Centre and support its efforts to attract funding for planned activities.

On a personal note Mr Svilanovic said that he considered RACVIAC should continue its own internal reform process and become more efficient and more focused on activities that are within its area of responsibility, instead of executing all kinds of cooperation in diverse areas. He added that this consumed resources and produced just a little added value for the Centre's international identity.

In conclusion the Secretary General said that RCC would continue to streamline regional activities to make cooperation more efficient, confirming RCC leadership in guiding and monitoring cooperation in SEE.

03 October 2013

RACVIAC Delegation lead by Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic attended the Comprehensive Regional Ministerial held in Brdo near Kranj Slovenia from 1-3 October 2013

A RACVIAC delegation lead by Director Branimir Mandic attended the Comprehensive Regional Ministerial (CRM) held in Brdo near Kranj Slovenia from 1-3 October 2013, focused on Harmonization of Regional Defence and Security Cooperation. The meeting was attended by numerous ministers of defence from the region and beyond, as well as by the highest representatives of key regional and international organizations.

The CRM is an innovative project aimed at rationalizing costs and saving valuable time. In three consecutive days, the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Slovenia hosted three meetings of three regional initiatives, namely the Western Balkans Defence Policy Directors Meeting (WB DPD), followed by the U.S. - Adriatic Charter (A-5) Defence Ministerial chaired by Montenegro and the South-Eastern Europe Defence Ministerial (SEDM) chaired by Romania.

The purpose of the event was not only to economise resources, but also to provide a unique opportunity for an open discussion on how to reduce unnecessary duplication, ensure coherence, streamline structures, and improve working methods to more efficiently join efforts regarding future regional cooperation. This was underlined in the overarching title of the CRM “Harmonization of Regional Defence and Security Cooperation”.

The meeting was opened by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, Ms Alenka Bratusek, who addressed those gathered and was followed by a keynote speech by the OSCE Secretary General, His Excellency, Lamberto Zannier on Comprehensive Security Agenda.

Following three days of fruitful discussion the Defence Ministers of the South Eastern Europe Defence Ministerial adopted a series of conclusions. They welcomed the presence of representatives from the OSCE, RCC, RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency and the UNDP/SEESAC.

The ministers noted that they appreciated the values of the ongoing efforts with regard to the SEDM Strategic Framework (SSR) and recommended that Nations continue work within SEDM-CC on creating an actionable roadmap for each of the SEDM reform objectives and timely implement the joint recommendations.

The SEDM ministers declared that they would remain deeply committed to promote all initiatives aimed at improving SEDM efficiency and visibility, reduce unnecessary duplications, ensure maximum coherence, streamline structures and improve working methods in order to achieve more efficiency in future regional defence cooperation. They also expressed support for a number of projects including the Building Integrity project, the Female Leaders in Security and Defence project and SEEBRIG activities.

The RACVIAC delegation used the opportunity to hold several bilateral meetings on the margins with the Defence Ministers of Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia and Georgia, as well as Department Heads from the Bulgarian and Ukrainian Ministries of Defence to discuss the work of the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and possible areas of cooperation.

27 September 2013

Final of the Quiz on Knowledge of the NATO Alliance held in RACVIAC

On Friday September 27, 2013, the final competition of the quiz on knowledge of NATO Alliance was held at RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation premises in Rakitje. The competition entitled “From Dubrovnik, through Zagreb to NATO in Bruxelles by a Quiz of Knowledge” was organized by the North Atlantic Integrations Promotion Organization (NAPO), the Croatian Parliament's Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of NATO and RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.

The quiz was envisaged as a promotional activity ahead of the forthcoming 59th Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly to be held in Dubrovnik from October 11 to 14, 2013. Ten secondary school and university students from four Dalmatian counties that achieved the best results in an online elimination test were chosen as finalists.

RACVIAC Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop opened the event by welcoming the contestants and dignitaries, underlining that RACVIAC readily accepted the invitation to host such an activity. He then followed with a brief presentation on RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and its activities.

Lieutenant Robert Karaman from the Croatian International Military Operations Training Centre gave a presentation on the Croatian Armed Forces in NATO lead operations. NAPO Director, Mr Denis Avdagic gave a short briefing on the activities and history of the NATO Alliance, while Mr Maroje Katalinic, the Secretary of the Croatian Parliament's Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of NATO spoke about the NATO Parliamentary Assembly itself.

Following the opening statements the competition was held with three rounds of questions. The contestants' answers provided an interesting insight into the knowledge of the youth regarding the NATO Alliance as well as their view of world security issues. The panel of judges chose Andro Radovic, Tereza Buconic and Lovro Ogresta from Dubrovnik as well as Paula Karadza from Zagreb who is studying in Dubrovnik as winners. The winners will be awarded a trip to Bruxelles where they will visit the NATO headquarters.

Upon completion of the competition, contestants were treated to a lunch at the PLETER restaurant and then toured the Vitez Damir Martic barracks, where they could see first hand how RACVIAC conducts its activities and how the Croatian Armed Forces prepare members for participation in international operations.

The competition winners will be officially presented with their prizes on the first day of the Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly on October 11, 2013, at the Stradun walkway in the Dubrovnik city centre, where a public concert will also be held.

26 September 2013

The Minister of Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr Zekerijah Osmic visits RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation

On Thursday September 26, 2013, a delegation of the Ministry of Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina, lead by Defence Minister Mr Zakerijah Osmic, visited RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation. The delegation consisted of Mr Mriko Okolic, Deputy Minister for resources, Mr Zoran Sajinovic, Assistant Minister, Mr Mustafa Sinanovic, Chief of the Minister's Cabinet, Ms Uma Sinanovic, the Head of the PR Department and Mr Irfan Dzelilovic, escort to the minister. The ambassador of Bosnia Herzegovina to the Republic of Croatia, H.E. Ms Azra Kalajdzisalihovic accompanied the delegation.

The guests were welcomed by RACVIAC Director Branimir Mandic, Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop and RACVIAC senior staff members.

Welcoming the delegation Director Mandic briefly informed them of the events currently taking place at RACVIAC and recent developments. Director Mandic pointed out that RACVIAC had signed seven Memorandums of Understanding with other relevant organizations this year and opened dialogue with numerous others. Regarding relations with NATO and the European Union, he noted that MAG had made the Republic of Croatia the contact country for NATO and Austria the contact country for the EU. Furthermore, he emphasized RACVIAC's future project orientation that would enable a long-term approach to activities and a stable budget.

Minister Osmic underlined the long-term dedication of Bosnia and Herzegovina to RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, pledging that this strong support would continue in the future.

Mr Zoran Sajinovic, Assistant Minister and former MAG Chairperson, noted that Bosnia and Herzegovina remained fully committed to RACVIAC as it had been in the past. He pointed out that they were currently providing a second RACVIAC Director and until recently had provided three subject matter experts to the centre. He also underlined the commitment by Bosnia and Herzegovina to send participants to RACVIAC activities and pointed out that at home this proved to be an excellent example of inter-agency cooperation. Furthermore, Mr Sajinovic added that Bosnia and Herzegovina would provide instructors and lecturers for RACVIAC, in particular for those activities involving parliamentary oversight and search and rescue, but not limited to them. In conclusion Mr Sajinovic noted that the delegation came to RACVIAC to demonstrate their commitment to regional cooperation.

The Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Republic of Croatia H.E. Ms Azra Kalajdzisalihovic promised to visit RACVIAC in the near future and discuss the programme.

Director Mandic thanked the delegation for visiting and noted that the invitation to H.E. Ms Azra Kalajdzisalihovic to visit the centre remained on the table.

25 September 2013

RACVIAC Signs Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Cooperation on Training and Education with NATO School Oberammergau

A delegation of RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, consisting of RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic and Planning and Liaison Officer Colonel Ferdinand Klinser, visited the NATO School in Oberammergau Germany on September 25, 2013. The NATO School Oberammergau (hereinafter NSO) is NATO's key training facility at the operational level. It is a global leader in multinational military education and individual training.

RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic and Planning and Liason Officer Colonel Ferdinand Klinser met with NATO School Commandant, Captain W. Scott Butler. Director Mandic explained the basic framework of RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, its visions, ideas and programme development. Areas of possible cooperation were pointed out to be in the fields of energy security, gender issues and cyber security as well as Common Security and Defence Policy.

Captain Butler praised the current achievements and developments of RACVIAC and expressed a firm commitment to an open door policy regarding cooperation. In particular Captain Butler emphasized the possibility of cooperation through an NSO Mobile Training Team. Afterwards a round table discussion was held with relevant representatives of the NSO who noted their appreciation for RACVIAC's willingness to meet at a table of experts to discuss concrete and tangible steps to strengthen cooperation and bring the Memorandum of Understanding to fruition, thus extending partner activities.

During the meeting Col Klinser gave a presentation on RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, its main strategic objectives, directions of development, areas of interest and programme for 2013 and 2014. Director Mandic noted that one or two activities in partnership with the NSO would be his goal, whereby the IRC Pillar would be a relevant partner, however concrete topics and details for implementation need to be further explored.

Signing the MoU In conclusion a ceremony was held at which RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic and the NATO School Commandant, Captain W. Scott Butler, signed a Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Cooperation on Training and Education. RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation eagerly looks forward to the future cooperation it will have with the NATO School Oberammergau.

25 September 2013

RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic met with Mr Fota Iulian, Romanian Presidential Advisor for National Security in Bucharest, Romania

RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic attended the meeting of the South-Eastern Europe Defence Ministerial - Coordination Committee (SEDM-CC) in Bucharest, Romania, September 17-18, 2013.

During the second day of the South-Eastern Europe Defence Ministerial - Coordination Committee (SEDM-CC) in Bucharest, Romania, September 17-18, 2013, the RACVIAC delegation had an official meeting with Mr Fota Iulian, Romanian Presidential Advisor for National Security.

During the meeting Director Mandic presented the transformation of RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation and its adjustment to new security circumstances in the region. In this regard, he expressed his personal belief that the active role of Romania is of high importance to RACVIAC and the region, which is reflected through regional ownership of the organization. He also highlighted the importance of Romanian membership in the European Union and NATO as an opportunity to exchange experiences and lessons learned with other countries in South East Europe.

Mr Iulian enhanced the dedication of Romania in providing strong support for the future development of RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation in the light of strengthened cooperation in the region.

Mr Iulian expressed strong support for Romania to be the initiator of the Project on Energy Security, with RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation as a platform. In contribution to this strong support by Romania, he announced that his country would delegate national representatives to RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation in 2014.

During further discussion, Mr Iulian said that he would like to visit RACVIAC premises in Rakitje.

Director Mandic thanked Romania for understanding the significance that RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation has in the region and highlighted the role Romania has as a Member. Furthermore, he expressed optimism regarding future cooperation with Romania and countries in the region.

In the light of the constructive conversation, Director Mandic welcomed the readiness of Mr Iulianu to visit RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and gave him a formal invitation.

25 September 2013

RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic met with Ambassador at large Mihnea Constantinescu at the Prime Minister's Chancellery in Bucharest, Romania

RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic attended the meeting of the South-Eastern Europe Defence Ministerial - Coordination Committee (SEDM-CC) in Bucharest, Romania, September 17-18, 2013.

On the margins of the meeting Director Mandic took the opportunity to visit the Prime Minister's Chancellery where he met with Ambassador at large Mihnea Constantinescu, Special Representative for Energy Security. Director Mandic used the opportunity to exchange views with Mr Constantinescu as an expert in the field of energy security.

Ambassador Constantinescu underlined the good cooperation and strong support Romania provides to RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation. Accordingly, the Romanian side agreed to host, support and cooperate in the long term the Project on Energy Security issues being proposed by RACVIAC. Ambassador Constantinescu proposed that Romania acts as a host for the opening conference on Energy Security during 2014 and suggested a number of proposals for further coordination.

Director Mandic underlined the importance of Romanian membership in the European Union and NATO as an opportunity to exchange experiences and lessons learned with other countries in South East Europe. During further discussion a high level of agreement was achieved in regard to energy security as an essential part of South East European security and further development. It was also agreed that in the spirit of understanding and good cooperation further development of cooperation regarding the Energy Security Project would continue.

Director Mandic thanked Mr Constantinescu for the readiness to cooperate and provided him with RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation annual programme for future activities.

24 September 2013

RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic visited the Regional Cooperation Council in Sarajevo

RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic visited the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) on September 11, 2013, where he met with RCC Secretary General Goran Svilanovic.

During their discussion Secretary General Svilanovic presented recent developments within the South East Europe 2020 Strategy which will be the priority of RCC activities in the coming period. The main focus of the Strategy is economic development of the countries in the region, while, to a lesser extent it will also address issues regarding justice and home affairs and education.

Director Mandic noted that RACVIAC could provide a forum for closer cooperation in the field of security within South East European region focused on European integrations. The two spoke of strengthening cooperation between regional organizations and initiatives dealing with security issues. Furthermore, Director Mandic invited Secretary General Svilanovic to attend a conference of directors from all regional security intitatives to be held at RACVIAC during the forthcoming semi-annual Multi-national Advisory Group (MAG) meeting. Secretary General Svilanovic accepted the invitation.

20 September 2013

Seminar on the Effective Practices of the Implementation of UNSCR 1540 held in RACVIAC

The Seminar on Effective Practices of the Implementation of UNSCR 1540 was held at the RACVIAC facilities in the Vitez Damir Martić barracks in Rakitje, Croatia from 19-20 September, 2013. The seminar was organized in cooperation with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.

RACVIAC Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop opened the seminar welcoming the co-organizers, Ms Vesna Batistić-Kos, MAG Chairperson and Assistant Minister for Multilateral Affairs and Global Issues at the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, and Mr Nikita Smidovich, political advisor and representative of UNODA. Brigadier General Jakop noted that the implementation of Resolution 1540 has received special attention in the region of South Eastern Europe, adding that significant efforts have been made by the States in the region, in adoption of national laws and regulations, as well as preparation and submission to the 1540 Committee of voluntary National Implementation Action Plans. Wishing all fruitful work in the spirit of cooperation and friendship, he concluded that the purpose of the seminar is to present to the participating Member countries, and representatives of the 1540 Committee and international organizations, national practices in the implementation of Resolution 1540.

Ms Vesna Batistić-Kos, MAG Chairperson and Assistant Minister for Multilateral Affairs and Global Issues at the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs also took the opportunity to greet participants. She noted that the activity is very important for RACVIAC because it goes beyond the regional topic of fighting against proliferation of WMD and adresses an actual approach used in the real world and in real time, adding that it is a top security topic not only in the region but in the world. Ms Batistić-Kos said that Croatia's efforts on the implementation of resolution 1540 were threefold, taking part in the peer review, adoption of a National Strategy and Action Plan for Prevention of Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and working together with the 1540 Commitee. In conclusion she said that the goal is to supress the threat of WMD, and Croatia is fully devoted to that goal.

Mr. Nikita Smidovich, political advisor and representative of UNODA noted that with the adoption of resolution 1540 in 2004, the Security Council established an effective global instrument to prevent non-State actors from acquiring and using most dangerous weapons and their means of delivery. He emphasized that not a single State publicly raised an objection to assuming and implementing relevant obligations which are mandatory under the UN Charter. Mr. Smidovich concluded that UNODA is committed to building productive and effective cooperation and partnerships with Governments, international organizations, civil society, industry, scientific, other expert and professional communities in support of the non-proliferation objectives of resolution 1540.

The final introductory speech was given by Mr. Nicolas Kasprzyk, 1540 Committee expert, who underlined the significance of resolution 1540 as a key international instrument aimed at preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to non-State actors such as terrorists or other criminals. Mr. Kasprzyk noted that international, regional and sub-regional organizations play an active role in supporting the implementation of the resolution by States, through various programs and activities. In this regard, he welcomed the participation of the OPCW, the OSCE and UNODC in the seminar. Mr. Kasprzyk explained that, almost ten years after the adoption of resolution 1540, States have achieved a high record of implementation of resolution 1540, although a lot remains to be done. In this context, the seminar represents a good opportunity for States to share the effective practices, implementation experience and lessons learned. Recognizing the role played by RACVIAC Centre for Security Cooperation in hosting the seminar, Mr. Kasprzyk expressed the hope that it will become a regional facilitator of resolution 1540.

The objectives of the seminar are to present to the participating Member countries and representatives of the 1540 Committee and international organizations national practices in the implementation of Resolution 1540 (2004). Participants heard numerous presentations from members of the 1540 Committee; national arms control experts and those working in the field of non proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

19 September 2013

Seminar on CSBM: Oversight and Building Integrity of Defence Institutions underway in Budva Montenegro

The seminar on CSBM: Oversight and Building Integrity of Defence Institutions is currently underway in Budva Montenegro. On behalf of the host nation, the seminar was opened by Mr Savo Milasinovic from the Finance Department of the Montenegrin Ministry of Defence.

Welcoming participants on behalf of RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop noted that the purpose of this event was to question whether CSBMs in the SEE should remain almost strictly defence-oriented or they could expand to include broader aspects. He pointed out that it was perhaps valid to start shifting the focus from general arms control and notification measures to a more substantial and cost-beneficial level of defence co-operation. Over the next two days participants will have an opportunity to hear lectures from speakers including: Dr Davor Bozinovic, Member of the Defence Committee in the Croatian Parliament, Mr Istvan Gyarmati, the Director of the International Centre for Democratic Transition in Hungary and Mr Kristijan Podbevsek of the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre, to name a few.

The main objectives of the seminar are: - to outline the current status of C(S)BMs under international documents and bilateral/multilateral agreements, - to assess the implementation of C(S)BMs, - to tackle the types of C(S)BMs, - to tackle C(S)BMs on national level, - to elaborate on possible new dimensions of the C(S)BM concept amidst current economic situation. The event is taking place in the form of four panels outlining the history, C(S)BM concept, current developments and future of C(S)BMs in SEE and will be executed through plenary sessions.

13 September 2013

MoU with American University in Bosnia and Herzegovina signed

On 10 September 2013, a Memorandum of Understanding with the American University in Bosnia and Herzegovina (AUBiH) was signed by RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic and the President of the AUBiH Mr Esmir Ganic. The AUBiH is a university with classes based on the American liberal education with undergraduate, graduate and doctoral studies, which are in line with the Bologna principles. It is a highly respected educational institution and its importance is underlined by frequent visits and lectures given by prominent political, science and business leaders from the USA, EU and other countries.

Thus, the purpose of the MoU is to establish effective cooperation between RACVIAC and AUBiH in the areas of fostering international understanding, academic cooperation, faculty and expert exchanges, and publication collaboration. The AUBiH sees RACVIAC as a worthy regional partner with whom it wishes to establish working relations aimed at exchange of experts, speakers, lecturers, collaboration on joint research projects, exchange of publications and execution of joint seminars, conferences and similar events. The areas of mutual interest include international security, contemporary security threats and challenges, regional security, cyber security and Euro-Atlantic integration.

The cooperation with the AUBiH is particularly beneficial for RACVIAC in terms of confirming its status as an academic organization, as specified in the Agreement on RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.

12 September 2013

Conference on The European Union External Border Regime began today

The conference on the European Union External Border Regime began at RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation today. The Conference concept was developed in cooperation between the Alumni Association of the George C. Marshall Centre in the Republic of Croatia, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Office in Croatia and RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.

In his opening speech RACVIAC Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop, underlined that the purpose of the conference lies within the original idea that Croatia's accession to the European union should not be viewed as a closure of individual transformation processes, but rather as an opening of the consequent full-member EU transformation phase in the area of border security system transformation. He added that the conference was aimed at bringing together representatives from South-East European countries whose international position has changed with Croatia's EU status, in terms of becoming front-line coutries bordering the new EU area. In closing Brigdier General Jakop noted that he strongly believed such conferences were of high importance for all countries in the region and provided an opportunity to exchange ideas, experience and lessons learned in the extremely important field of Security Sector Reform.

The Deputy Secretary General of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Dr. Gerhard Wahlers gave a brief outline of the activities of his organization and the importance they place on European security cooperation. He noted that borderless travel within the EU placed importance on external border control and that with EU accession Croatia had gained many rights and obligations including protection of the European Union’s external borders. Dr. Wahler pointed out that developments in North Africa and the Middle East had given rise to chellnging trends in terms of migration, adding that a common goal would be for people to find a perspective in their own countries instead of opting for migration. The President of the George C. Marshall Alumni Association of the Republic of Croatia, Mr Smiljan Cubelic, said that RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation was practically tailored for the Conference on European Union External Border Regime in providing a platform for national and international participants to work toward a common goal. Mr Cubelic noted that the George C. Marshall Alumni Association of the Republic of Croatia was proud to have acted as a link between RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in organizing the conference and expressed hope that it would have lasting benefit for countries in the region.

The Conference will take the form of four panels with keynote speeches outlining the current D+75 situation in terms of the implementation of EU regulations and relevant national and international practices as well as moderated plenary presentations and discussions. The main objectives of the conference include outlining the border security system of the Republic of Croatia in view of the required implementation of the EU external border regulations, discussing issues, challenges and problems concerning the newly-established Croatian border regime system with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia as well as with the EU Member Countries, and looking into the rationale for the implementation of the provisions of the EU border system regulations in view of the Republic of Croatia’s present status as a Schengen area foreground country. Participants will be provided with an opportunity to outline national considerations on the new Croatian - EU border security system regime and exchange national experiences in implementing the EU border regime on the national level.

10 September 2013

Multi beneficiary workshop on intellectual emigration has started today

The workshop on Intellectual Emigration and its Effects and Implications on the Socioeconomic and Demographic Development has started today in Sarajevo, BA. The workshop is coorganized by RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Migration, Asylum, Refugees Regional Initiative (MARRI) and TAIEX Instrument of the European Commision. It is a follow-up activity to the Roundtable on Demographic Trends and Social and Economic Challenges in SEE, held in RACVIAC in October 2012.

The workshop was opened by Ms Ruzmira Tihic-Kadric, Assistant Minister, Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ms Natalia Dianiskova, Head of Operation, Section for Social Development, Civil Society and Cross Border Cooperation, EU Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, Ambassador Branimir Mandic, RACVIAC Director and Mr Toni Jakimovski, MARRI Regional Centre.

The purpose of the event is to discuss factors, scope and dynamics of permanent intellectual emigration of highly educated young people (brain drain) from the countries of the SEE region and its implications for the socioeconomic and demographic development of the countries.

Participants and speakers are experts dealing with the workshop subject matter and coming from RACVIAC MAG / MARRI member countries, international organizations and NGOs. The workshop will last for two days and it will comprise presentations and discussions on the issues such as the EU migration policy, consequences of intellectual emigration for the development of the country of origin, capacity-building for human resources management in the institutions, national migration management strategies and policies.

09 September 2013

Meeting of the Schengen Integration Task Force has started today in RACVIAC

The meeting of the DCAF Schengen Integration Task Force, taking place within the framework of the Border Security Programme organised in cooperation between RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and DCAF Ljubljana, has started today at RACVIAC facilities in Rakitje.

Under the auspices of the DCAF Border Security Programme, the Schengen Integration Task Force has been mandated by the competent ministries to provide specific assistance to border police services and experts of the ministries of the interior in preparing for and undertaking EU membership and Schengen integration-related responsibilities. It was also tasked to give recommendations and to highlight best practises in the implementation of relevant regulations and other documents by providing examples in order to assist beneficiary countries in correct application of the Schengen acquis.

This three-day meeting is dedicated to further legislative and technical aspects of Schengen integration, raising awareness of the overarching process under Accession Chapter 24 and preparing for the self-evaluation in the area of Schengen integration with the help of a new software tool. The participants, representatives of competent national services of the ministries of the interior/border police, will be familiarised with the results of the first phase of the Schengen self-evaluation (finalised up to 15 August 2013), analysing to what extent in general each beneficiary country meets the Schengen criteria regarding the integrated border management. They will receive further instructions how to proceed with the evaluation of the second phase of the evaluation module focused on the evaluation of border crossing points.

The second part of the meeting will focus on the insight into the latest developments in the EU domain, while the beneficiary countries will be familiarised with the current EU legislation and relevant changes as well as with the relevant info-systems for border police works (SIS, VIS, EURODAC). A special emphasis will be put on Frontex’s EUROSUR system, which is designed to support the Member States in their efforts to reduce the number of irregular migrants entering the European Union by improving their situational awareness at their external borders and increasing the reaction capability of their information and border control authorities.

09 September 2013

Regional Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Course has started today

The Regional Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Course has started today at Tara Mountain, Republic of Serbia. The Course is coorganized by RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Serbia with the support from the Tactical Air Command Denmark as part of RACVIAC Regional Search and Rescue project. Thus, the event is a continuation of a series of activities organized on this topic. The initial event was held in May 2011 in Belgrade, Serbia, followed by a fact-finding conference held in RACVIAC in November 2012 and Basic SAR Course in April 2013, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina during which the countries of South-Eastern European region signed a SAR Letter of Intent aimed at promoting and strengthening further regional cooperation on search and rescue.

The four-day Regional SAR Mission Coordinator Course aims to train representatives of relevant national institutions dealing with SAR issues in specific areas of search and rescue missions. Participants include experts representing relevant national institutions dealing with SAR issues: Defence/Armed Forces, national RCC authorities, national Directorates for Search and Protection, Civil Aviation Authorities, Ministries of the Interior, Civil Emergency Management Authorities, Medical Trauma Centres and NGOs.

At this comprehensive course, participants will benefit from the extensive knowledge of distinguished experts in the field of SAR and learn about the role and responsibilities of the SAR Mission Coordinator (SMC), best practices that are needed in order to manage the rescue coordination centre staff, as well as make key decisions and generate plans for the management of response and rescue, about the IAMSAR processes guiding the response to and coordination of every SAR mission.

03 September 2013

Inaugural visit of Australian Ambassador to RACVIAC

On 03 September 2013, Australian Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia, H.E. Ms Susan Cox, was in her inaugural visit to RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation. The occasion for the visit was the desire expressed by H.E. Ms Cox to make personal acquaintance with RACVIAC's mission, aims and structure. Her Excellency was welcomed by RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic, Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop and RACVIAC senior staff. After the presentation on the history, mission, annual programme of activities and accomplishments of RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, Ms Cox and the hosts engaged in a very interesting discussion on RACVIAC’s programme, plans for the future and possibilities for further cooperation.

Ambassador Cox showed significant interest in RACVIAC’s achievements, current activities and plans for the forthcoming period, in particular in the area of arms control. Thus, she expressed her willingness to provide support to the activities on arms control in terms of presenting a view on this issue outside the region. In this regard it is worth mentioning that while this was her inaugural visit to the Centre in her capacity as Australian ambassador to Croatia, Ms Cox has already participated in RACVIAC activity on Chemical Weapons Convention. She highlighted that while Australia was a long way from South East Europe, it nevertheless has an enduring interest in regional security and the challenges posed to the world.

27 August 2013

Serbian Assistant Defence Minister visited RACVIAC

On 27 August 2013, Mr Miroslav Jovanovic, Assistant Minister for Defence Policy of the Republic of Serbia, accompanied by Ministry officials LtCol Zlatko Zikic and Ms Sloboda Maravic and Ms Bosa Prodanovic, Minister Counsellor at the Serbian Embassy to Croatia, visited RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation. This was Mr Jovanovic’s first visit to the Centre.

The purpose of the visit of the Serbian delegation was to get acquainted with the current situation in RACVIAC before taking over the chairmanship of MAG in October this year.

The guests were welcomed by RACVIAC Director Branimir Mandic, Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop and RACVIAC senior staff members. After the presentation on RACVIAC, Ambassador Mandic and other staff members informed the guests about the current situation, ongoing activities as well as on the plans for the future. Ambassador Mandic pointed out that the only challenge RACVIAC was facing at the moment was lack of personnel. In that regard he presented some new ideas and proposals aimed at tackling this issue.

Mr Jovanovic highlighted Serbia’s readiness to continue supporting the Centre. He said that in the forthcoming Serbian chairmanship of MAG their main goal was to define the framework of future RACVIAC activities, analyze the needs of the region and development towards European and Euro Atlantic integration in order to enhance relationship and cooperation between the regional countries.

Although Serbia has proved to be a reliable partner to the Centre over the years, both sides expressed their hope that the cooperation between the Republic of Serbia and RACVIAC would be even more active in the time to come.

14 August 2013

Conference on Regional Peacekeeping Experiences held in RACVIAC

A one-day Conference on “Regional Peacekeeping Experiences from ISAF to the Middle East and the Way Forward for ‘Smart’ Peacekeeping”, co-organized by the Atlantic Council of Croatia and NATO Public Diplomacy Division was hosted by RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on 13 August 2013. Opening speeches were given by RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic and President of the Atlantic Council of Croatia Mr Radovan Vukadinovic. Retired US four-star General John Allen, former ISAF Commander and Special Advisor for the Secretary of Defence for Middle East, said in his opening speech that the event was a first forum ever dedicated to the lessons learned in Afghanistan. He also pointed out that the international community needed to be strongly engaged in Afghanistan also after 2014 in order to support Afghan National Government on fighting corruption as one of the biggest threats to the security and prosperity of the country.

On this occasion Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy at NATO Ms Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic delivered a speech entitled “Have we achieved success? Human Angle Stories from Afghanistan”. Ms Grabar Kitarovic pointed out that the International Forces in Afghanistan had done a great job in Afghanistan, especially in terms of integrating and strengthening the human rights of women. The conference also served as a forum for discussing regional cooperation and different national experiences from ISAF missions.

24 July 2013

French Defence Attachés have visited RACVIAC

Today, 24th July 2013, the incoming French Defence Attaché to Croatia, Lieutenant Colonel Laurent Vondersher, accompanied by Colonel Eric Prigent, the outgoing Defence Attaché, has visited RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation in order to get better acquainted with the Centre.

The Director of RACVIAC, Ambassador Branimir Mandic, together with RACVIAC staff members, welcomed the distinguished guests.

After the presentation on the history, mission, scope of activities and accomplishments of RACVIAC, the French Attachés and their hosts engaged in a discussion on RACVIAC’s programme, plans for the future and possibilities for a more targeted cooperation between the Centre and France, as its Associate Member. Some talks in this direction have already been conducted.

Ambassador Mandic used this opportunity to thank Colonel Prigent for all the support he personally provided to RACVIAC being actively involved in all of its activities in the last three years.

19 July 2013

Meeting with Croatian Assistant Minister of Defence

On 18 July 2013, RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Branimir Mandic and Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop, had a meeting with Mr Zoran Drca, Assistant Minister of Defence of the Republic of Croatia and Mr Petar Mihatov, Head of the International Defence Cooperation and Security Sector, at RACVIAC premises.

The purpose of the meeting was to exchange the most recent information about RACVIAC activities, some ongoing challenges and the way forward.

Ambassador Mandic took this opportunity to express once more his genuine appreciation to the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia for the outstanding and considerable ongoing support to RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation. He informed the guests about some changes in the Centre’s programme, future projects and intention for a broader and intensified cooperation with international and regional organizations and initiatives.

Taking into account RACVIAC's mission and role in the region, the Assistant Minister of Defence, Mr Drca, availed himself of this opportunity to reassure RACVIAC of the Ministry’s intention for further partnership and support.

Since the Host Nation Agreement between RACVIAC and the Republic of Croatia was signed in April this year, the meeting was also an opportunity to discuss in more detailed draft of the new Technical Agreement between the Centre and the Croatian Ministry of Defence. Both delegations agreed on the need for continued efforts to foster dialogue and cooperation on security matters in the region thus accelerating the Euro-Atlantic integration processes in the countries of Southeast Europe.

18 July 2013

Regional Commodity Identification Training finished

The workshop on Regional Commodity Identification Training for Military and Dual-Use Goods co-organized by RACVIAC, the Secretariat of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), EU Outreach Export Controls for Dual Use Goods and U.S. Department of Energy has finished today.

This three-day workshop provided an opportunity for the participants to exchange lessons learned form the previous workshops dealing with similar topics and to gain hands-on experience on identifying dual-use goods. Among other things, they discussed methodology for assessing proliferation risk from the point of view of customs and licensing officials as well as cooperation between licensing and customs. In one of the presentations special emphasis was given to the concealment techniques used for trafficking of SALW. Several case studies were presented focusing on specific practical experiences on risk assessment from the customs perspective.

At the end of the workshop, a comprehensive discussion was held on reforms needed to effectively implement export controls with respect to information sharing, training and operations in the SEE region.

In his closing remarks, RACVIAC Director pointed out the key role of export licensing officials and customs agencies in controlling strategic trade and preventing proliferation of dual-use goods as well as illicit weapons. He reiterated the need for similar workshops to take place on regular annual basis in order to enhance regional cooperation and counter transnational illicit trade more efficiently.

16 July 2013

Workshop on Military and Dual Use Goods

A three-day workshop on Regional Commodity Identification Training for Military and Dual-Use Goods has started today in RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation. The workshop is co-organized by the Secretariat of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), EU Outreach Export Controls for Dual Use Goods (BAFA) and U.S. Department of Energy (DEA) and RACVIAC- Centre for Security Cooperation.

The workshop is a follow up to the Regional Workshop on Customs Procedures and Licensing Issuance: Integrating the National Processing of Dual Use Goods and Conventional Weapons through Information Sharing held in RACVIAC in October 2011.

Encouraged by the success of the mentioned workshop, this year’s training will be focusing on the commodity identification and promotion of inter-agency and regional co-operation among licensing offices and customs services with a view to fighting the proliferation of illicit weapons and dual-use goods. Bringing together licensing officers and customs agencies, this workshop is also aimed at examining topics related to licensing and customs controls, such as enhancing the capacity for commodity identification in the supply chain. Additionally, the training will contribute to promoting the implementation of the UNSCR 1540 and OSCE Document on Small Arms and Light Weapons as well as reinforcing the OSCE Border Security and Management Concept that promotes threat mitigation with the least possible restriction posed on trade and transport.

Gathering more than 20 licensing officials and front-line customs officers from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia, as well as the OSCE, BAFA and DEA representatives, the event will be structured into three segments. First being the introductory topical presentations, followed by hands-on group exercises and in the end a facilitated discussion, providing an opportunity for the participants to learn about effective international and national practices, share their own national experience as well as hear and discuss examples of dealing with concrete cases.

Highly professional lecturers, ready to share their views, expertise, lessons learned and extensive experience, come from the OSCE Secretariat, EU Outreach Export Controls for Dual use Goods and U.S. department for Energy, as well as from some national customs administrations.

Opening the workshop, RACVIAC Director Ambassador Mandic said that, taking into account the needs of the SEE countries, RACVIAC should, in cooperation with the OSCE, 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 neighbouring countries.

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

09 July 2013

Romanian Ambassador visited RACVIAC

On 09 July 2013, the Ambassador of Romania to the Republic of Croatia, H.E. Mr Cosmin George Dinescu, accompanied by Mr Florian Antohi, Minister Counselor and Mr Dorut Nicolae Lucan, First Secretary, visited RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation. The occasion for the visit was the desire expressed by H.E. Mr Dinescu to make personal acquaintance with RACVIAC’s mission, current status and vision for the future.

The Director of RACVIAC, Ambassador Branimir Mandic, together with the Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop, and RACVIAC staff members welcomed the distinguished guests. After the presentation on the history, mission, annual programme of activities and accomplishments of RACVIAC, the Romanian delegation and their hosts engaged in a very interesting discussion on RACVIAC’s programme, current issues and future plans.

Expressing the readiness of Romania to remain a reliable partner and supporter to the Centre, Ambassador Dinescu presented RACVIAC Management with the Document on the Romanian Ratification of the Agreement on RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation. He showed significant interest in RACVIAC’s current activities and plans for the forthcoming period and expressed his willingness to create a more targeted and cooperative relationship between RACVIAC and Romania, as RACVIAC core Member. Since Romania has not been actively involved in RACVIAC in the past few years, H.E. Mr Dinescu expressed his intention to explore the possibilities for Romania to get re-involved in the Centre, especially in terms of the secondment of personnel.

02 July 2013

Slovak Atlantic Commission and RACVIAC discussed future cooperation

Mr Ján Cingel, Director for Partnership Development from the Transfer of Know How Department of the Slovak Atlantic Commission visited RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation on Monday, July 1st 2013, to discuss enlargement of cooperation and partnership between the two organizations.

The meeting was attended by RACVIAC Director Ambassador Mandic, RACVIAC Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop and RACVIAC Planning and Liaison Officer for Western Europe and International Organisations Colonel Ferdinand Klinser MSD.

The promising and encouraging meeting was rounded up with the interest of both organizations to cooperate more closely in order to avoid duplication of efforts and resources in their mutual scopes of interest such as improving democratic institutions, EU enlargement in Balkans, strengthening security of South-East Europe, as well as to better use the synergy of their capacities for the growth of prosperity and improvement of security in the SEE region and a successful EU integration.

Background: The Slovak Atlantic Commission (SAC) is an independent, non-partisan, non-governmental organization that deals with national and international security issues. It aims to support constructive and active involvement of the Slovak Republic in international affairs with the emphasis on cooperation in the Euro-Atlantic community, support of transatlantic cooperation and effective implementation of foreign and security policy of the Slovak Republic through building a network of individuals and institutions (state, non-governmental and private), unified in strong security community. SAC represents a network of leaders who bring ideas to power and give power to ideas.

The Slovak Atlantic Commission is the only and exclusive member of the Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA) on behalf of the Slovak Republic. ATA unifies Atlantic Councils in more than 40 countries in the Euro Atlantic area and beyond. This membership creates a unique precondition for interconnection of national and international security community, as well as support of international cooperation in the security field. The Atlantic Treaty Association was founded in 1954 with the aim to connect and bind independent non-governmental organizations that support transatlantic cooperation and values it is based on. ATA unifies many distinguished persons from international politics, such as former defence and foreign affairs ministers, diplomats and ambassadors.

26 June 2013

RACVIAC Deputy Director is visiting the Spangdahlem Air Base

RACVIAC Deputy Director is visiting the Spangdahlem Air Base on June 27 to get an insight into the daily maintenance and operations of the combat air base. The visit is part of the Vienna Document ‘11 Agreement, which is a politically binding measure designed to enhance confidence and security among the participating nations.

Participating countries include nations with air forces that operate in the territories, surrounding sea areas and air spaces of Europe and central Asia. The open demonstrations of military capabilities and resources are designed to foster trust, which in turn enhances regional peace and stability. The participants will tour different areas of the base to observe the 52nd Fighter Wing's daily operations. Afterwards, based on the wing's performance, there will be a discussion on whether or not the U.S. government had met the obligations of the Vienna Document ‘11. This is the first time that Spangdahlem will directly support the Agreement.

26 June 2013

RACVIAC Director attends the 13th SEEC - Forum for Western Balkans Defence Cooperation Conference

RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic is participating in the 13th SEEC - Forum for Western Balkans Defence Cooperation Conference, taking place in the period of 25 – 27 June 2013 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. This year’s Conference is focused on the topic of strengthening defence reform in the Western Balkans through regional cooperation and professional military education.

The issues discussed included the status, management, financing and future needs of regional training centres, experiences on regular exchange of participants, experts and trainers, as well as top five priorities for defence reform in the Western Balkan countries at the strategic level. As part of the panel on “Regional Cooperation in the Western Balkans”, Major Ove Urup-Madsen from the Tactical Air Command Denmark gave a presentation on the Regional Search and Rescue Cooperation and Its Connection to RACVIAC.

21 June 2013

RACVIAC and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung have signed the Letter of Exchange

Today, 21 June 2013, Mr Michael A. Lange from the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Office Croatia and Ambassador Branimir Mandic, Director of RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation signed the Letter of Exchange between the two organizations. The Letter of Exchange is aimed at establishing a framework governing mutual organizational and financial procedures and responsibilities for the preparation and execution of the Conference “European Union External Border Regime 75 Days After’’ to take place in September 2013.

While not the first event dealing with the issues of the EU border security, the Conference is definitely the first Croatian project activity aimed at looking into the new EU member country’s post-accession border security situation. The purpose of this joint Conference lies in the original idea that the Croatian joining the EU border security system ought not to be looked at as the closure of the individual transformation processes but rather as the start of the consequent full-member EU transformation phase in the area of border security system transformation. The Conference concept has been developed in cooperation among the Alumni Association of George C. Marshall Republic of Croatia, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Office in Croatia and RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.

19 June 2013

Political Advisor of UNODA visits RACVIAC

Today, 19 June 2013, Mr Nikita Smidovich, Political Asvisor, United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), accompanied by Ms Sanja Bujas Juraga and Ms Ivana Zerec from the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affaires, visited RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.

The purpose of the visit was the wish expressed by Mr Smidovich to discuss possible ways of further, more intensified cooperation between RACVIAC and UNODA.

The guests were welcomed by RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic, Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop and RACVIAC senior staff members. Mr Smidovich presented UNODA’s efforts and current issues concerning the implementation of the UNSCR 1540, as well as the main areas they are currently focused on.

With a view to extending UNODA’s cooperation to some regional organizations, Mr Smidovich outlined the idea to organize events on effective practices in the implementation of the UNSC Resolution 1540, using RACVIAC as a platform of the member states and a possible regional promoter of the UNSCR 1540.

Subsequently, the guests and the hosts engaged in a more detailed discussion on potential activities and plans for the future. Both sides agreed that the pilot event could be a workshop co-organized in September this year dealing with effective practices in the implementation of the Resolution 1540.

05 June 2013

Workshop on the Prevention of Corruption has started

A two–day workshop “Prevention of Corruption: Implementation of Integrity Plans“ co-organized by the EU Commision TAIEX instrument, Montenegrin Ministry of Justice, Directorate for Anti-Corruption Initiative and RACVIAC has started today in Podgorica, Montenegro.

The event is aimed at getting together practitioners from specialized anticorruption authorities and other relevant state institutions to discuss and share best practices on the common issue of concern: implementation of integrity plans.

Since one of the most important measures in the process of integration of candidate and potential candidate countries into the EU is the prevention of corruption, this event will also improve cooperation, coordination and information sharing, as well as increase understanding of the major causes of this phenomenon, by sharing experiences and best practices among the countries of the region. The workshop also aims to provide a platform for discussion on the current status and challenges in the development and implementation of national integrity plans as well as regulations on lobbying.

The event has gathered 56 participants, officials at a decision making level and experts dealing with the activity subject matter and representing national institutions, ministries and anti-corruption authorities from the region as well as representatives of the EU countries and the EU delegation in Podgorica.

The workshop was opened by Ms Vesna Ratkovic, Director of the Directorate for Anti-Corruption Initiative, Mr Alberto Cammarata, Head of Political Section, EU Delegation, and Ambassador Branimir Mandic, RACVIAC Director.

In his opening speech, Ambassador Mandic said that the EU had intensified its dialogue on the rule of law and the fight against corruption in respect of candidate and potential candidate countries. He added that the aim of the dialogue on the rule of law was to strengthen benchmarking aimed at enhanced transparency at earlier stages of the accession process as well as building capacities and establishing effective tools for fighting and preventing corruption in respective countries.

03 June 2013

Croatian Defence Academy has visited RACVIAC

Representatives of the Croatian Defence Academy, led by the Dean of the Academy, Colonel Zeljko Akrap, have visited RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation today in order to get better acquainted with RACVIAC mission, aims and activities.

The guests were welcomed by RACVIAC Director and Deputy Director, as well as other senior staff members. RACVIAC Deputy Director, Brigadier General Jakop, provided the guests with a brief outline of RACVIAC's history, mission, annual programme of activities and completed process of transformation, while RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Mandic, outlined the results achieved in the recent months and the Centre’s intention to broaden the scope of its activities and network of partners. He also introduced some basic plans for the forthcoming period.

Since both organizations are academically oriented, the meeting was also aimed at discussing and exchanging views on the future broadened and specific cooperation between the Defence Academy and RACVIAC. After a very comprehensive Q&A session and a subsequent open discussion, both organizations recognized some complementary activities and areas for a closer and deeper collaboration, which could contribute to the dialogue and security cooperation in South East Europe.

29 May 2013

Dayton Article IV Course has finished

The thirteenth Course on Dayton Article IV, co-organized by RACVIAC and the OSCE, aimed at training designated representatives of the four State Parties to the Agreement in the role of inspectors and escorts, has finished today in Raktije.

Gathering more than 30 participants coming from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Germany, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*,, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia and the OSCE, the course provided not only a multinational forum for training personnel, but also served as a platform for discussions on some other relevant issues related to the Agreement, such as the transfer of ownership. The practical part included a training inspection of the declared site in the Croatian Armed Forces Artillery-Rocket Regiment in Bjelovar, enabling participants to practice the roles of inspectors and escorts.

The course was closed with the speech of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for Article IV, Annex 1-B of Dayton Peace Agreement, Major General Michele Torres, who indicated the way ahead and maturity of the States Parties to gradually take over the ownership of the Agreement.

Once more, the Dayton Article IV Course proved to be a valuable instrument for fostering mutual trust, confidence and transparency among the regional countries.

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

28 May 2013

Conference on Strategic Communication has finished today

A two-day Conference on Strategic Communication has finished today in Skopje, MK. This was the third consecutive event dedicated to enhancing dialogue and cooperation between the security sector institutions and public media. The conference was co-organized by RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, the Regional Cooperation Council Secretariat, the Ministry of Defence of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, NATO Public Diplomacy Division and the Croatian Radio and Television.

The purpose of the event was to deepen and underpin the cooperation and communication between representatives of the public relations agencies in security departments and public media services from the SEE region and international organizations and partners with the aim of encouraging more open relations and environment in the region.

The conference gathered more than 30 participants - spokespersons and representatives of the ministries of defence of the regional countries, representatives of public media services, as well as organizations such as the RCC, OSCE, MNIOE (Multinational Information Operations Experiment) and independent media experts, thus serving as a forum for exchange of views, information and ideas focusing on different aspects of strategic communication.

Ms Cathie Burton, Spokesperson from the Press and Public Information Section, OSCE Secretariat, delivered a presentation entitled “The Half Hour Guide to Strategic Communication”. She explained what was needed for creating good communication and what methods were the most appropriate. She also pointed out that the best communicators were those with integrity, but who always keep changing and looking for ways of doing it. She concluded that strategic communication was not only a skill but also a science.

In the continuation, Ms Dinka Živalj, Mr.Sc, Spokesperson, Regional Cooperation Council (RCC)delivered a presentation entitled "Developing a Communication Strategy" and Lt Col Dirk Schweickhardt from the International Policy and Doctrine, MNIOE, Germany, delivered a presentation entitled "The Narrative Construct", a MNIOE approach to narrative development within coalition operations.

Strategic communication as part of the national security strategy and national approach to communicating strategically was outlined by the host nation representatives, Mr Sasho Kuzmanovski from the MK MoD Analysis Section and Col Tome Trajkov from the MK Army General Staff.

The conference continued by presenting public media views and experiences related to the relationship and communication with the security sector institutions. Some innovative approaches and new sources, tools and channels of communication were also outlined.

The presentations on the use of social media and the benefit of using them, which were delivered by Mr Mirko Stular form the Slovenian Radio Television and Mr Tomislav Spoljar from the Croatian Radio Television, prompted a comprehensive and interesting discussion. The last presentation was dedicated to effective communication in crisis situations and was delivered by Mr Eric May, an Emmy Award winning media consultant.

The conference was closed with a unanimous conclusion that this and similar events were truly beneficial, as they provided a platform for discussing difficulties related to strategic communication and setting proper strategic objectives, but also for deepening the dialogue and cooperation between security institutions and public media.

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

27 May 2013

Conference on Strategic Communication has started today in Skopje, MK

A two-day Conference on Strategic Communication between security institutions and media in South East Europe has started today in Skopje, MK. It was co-organized by RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, the Regional Cooperation Council Secretariat, the Ministry of Defence of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, NATO Public Diplomacy Division and the Croatian Radio and Television (HRT).

This conference is a continuation of a series of events dedicated to the topic of public media and security in the SEE. The first event was held in RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation in November 2011, followed by an event in the town of Pula in May 2012.

The purpose of this event is to foster and underpin the collaboration and communication between representatives of the public relations agencies in security departments and public media services from the SEE region and international organizations and partners, by using dialogue and exchange of information, views and ideas, with the aim of encouraging more open relations and environment in the region.

Opening the event, RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Branimir Mandic, highlighted that the first step towards realizing the potential of strategic communication to contribute to national security strategy must be to ensure that it is properly understood as a component of national security strategy and made integral to the national strategic process. In his opening remarks, the Minister of Defence of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, H.E. Mr Talat Xhaferi, said that the co-organization of this event with RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation demonstrated that the Ministry was dedicated to the constant development, transparency and open communication aimed at contributing to the security environment. A comprehensive and interesting keynote speech was also delivered by Ms Cathie Burton, Spokesperson from the Press and Public Information Section, OSCE Secretariat.

The participants include representatives from the public relations offices of the Ministries of Defence of the SEE countries and representatives of the SEE public media services, as well as regional and international organizations dealing with strategic communication.

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

27 May 2013

Dayton Article IV Course has started today in RACVIAC

A three-day Course on Dayton Article IV has started today in RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation. This Course has been co-organized by RACVIAC and the Office of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for Article IV of Annex 1B of the Dayton Peace Accords as early as 2001.

In his opening speech, RACVIAC Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop, emphasized that the Course on Dayton Agreement Article IV represented one of the most important annual programme activities organized by RACVIAC. He highlighted that the constructive dialogue and close cooperation were undoubtedly crucial for achieving peace and stability in the region and beyond.

The main objectives of the Course are to provide an outline of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with a particular focus on the Agreement on Subregional Arms Control and training designated representatives in the role of inspectors and escorts.

The course will last for three days and will consist of a theoretical and practical part. The theoretical part will include lectures about the history of the Dayton Agreement, conduct of inspections, as well as discussions about some current issues related to the Agreement, such as the transfer of ownership. The practical part will include a training inspection of the Artillery-Rocket Regiment in Bjelovar, enabling participants to practice the roles of inspectors or escorts.

In her opening remarks, Ambassador Branka Latinović, Head of the Arms Control Directorate, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia stressed that the Dayton Agreement was the only functional agreement on Arms Control in Europe and that Article IV was the most successful part of the Dayton Agreement, particularly due to the provision of training of military personnel in conducting inspections.

21 May 2013

Conference on Women’s Role in Border Management finished yesterday

The conference on “Gender and Border Management/Peace and Security: Promoting Women’s Role” was closed yesterday. The third event dedicated to gender issues highlighted the benefits of integrating gender issues into border management, possible ways and tolls of advancing the role of women in border policing in South East Europe and enhancing gender mainstreaming and equality.

Through the discussions held it was obvious that the UN SCR 1325 and 1820 were recognised as important tools in policy making and regional mainstreaming. Ensuring equal participation of men and women in governance is part of international obligations and more attention has to be paid to public awareness raising, gender training and capacity building as well as to the establishment of gender–sensitive policies, protocols and procedures.

Although more women are needed in the security sector in order to address women’s and men’s needs and priorities adequately, there is obvious lack of women in the command and management positions in all SEE countries. The data clearly indicate that more needs to be done on the implementation of national action plans as well as networking and information exchange.

Promoting equal opportunities for women and men remains a big challenge for independent state institutions in their efforts to work together towards the elimination of discrimination, especially at the time of the economic and financial crisis and its effects on gender issues.

20 May 2013

Conference on Women’s Role in Border Management has started

With the welcome speeches given by Ambassador Branimir Mandic, RACVIAC Director, Ms Vesna Batistic Kos, Ph.D., Assistant Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Croatia, and Ms Ana Trisic-Babic, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Conference on “Gender and Border Management/Peace and Security: Promoting Women’s Role” has started today in RACVIAC.

Being aware that the integration of gender issues is a key to the effectiveness and accountability of the security sector, RACVIAC has already organized two events dedicated to the this subject in the last 15 months.

The purpose of the conference is to bring together representatives from South East Europe (SEE) and provide them with relevant general information on the new trends in border management deriving from the needs of the SEE countries, as well as to exchange relevant information on the subject matter, thus ensuring higher level of human rights protection and the rule of law as the responsibility of border management institutions.

Opening the conference, Ambassador Mandic pointed out that border control activities could have potentially positive and negative consequences for the relevant actors, local population in the area of operation, general security environment, enjoyment of human rights and the rule of law. He also added that the integration of gender issues into border management reform processes could enhance operational effectiveness by contributing to effective and gender-responsive human trafficking training, enhanced recruitment of women in border management agencies, improving the prevention and detection of human trafficking and smuggling, strengthening the protection and promotion of human rights, resulting in more representative border management institutions and enhancing local ownership, oversight and collaboration.

The conference has gathered more than 30 participants representing Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Slovenia, Turkey, NATO, SEESAC and other institutions engaged in human rights protection in the SEE region. The conference attendants include, among others: Ms Visnja Ljubicic, Ombudsman for Gender Equality of the Republic of Croatia, Col Harald Hiorth, Deputy Commander, NATO HQ Sarajevo, Ms Ankcia Tomic, Deputy Director, the Gender Equality Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ms Vanja Matic, Coordinator/Gender PM, NATO HQ Sarajevo, Ms Lidija Pentavec, Ministry of Interior, the Republic of Croatia, Mr Beno Arnejcic, PhD, Primorska University, the Republic of Slovenia, Ms Danijela Djurovic, Project Officer/Advisor, SEESAC.

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

14 May 2013

Oslo Convention workshop has started

Co-organized with the Government Office for Mine Action of the Republic of Croatia, the Norwegian People’s Aid, the Ministry of Defence of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* and RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, a two-day workshop on the Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (also know as Oslo Convention) has started today in Skopje.

The purpose of this workshop is to share the latest developments related to the implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The workshop will provide an overview of the implementation of the Convention and results of the Third Meeting of States Parties (3MSP) held in Oslo, Norway, in September 2012.

The event also aims to provide a forum for discussion on the implementation of the Convention in South Eastern Europe with a focus on retention and destruction as well as national strategies, implementation plans, progress reports, possible international and regional cooperation and needs for support from outside the region. Additionally, there will be an opportunity to observe the disassembling of mortar M93 and BKF dispensing canister containing AO 2.5RT sub-munitions and disposal of cluster munitions stockpiles.

The workshop gathered some 30 participants, representing relevant ministries, agencies and organizations from 11 countries.

Opening the workshop, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop, RACVIAC Deputy Director, underlined that RACVIAC had contributed to the implementation of the Convention since 2008 by organising activities on this topic, thus supporting the countries of South Eastern Europe (SEE) in their efforts to put an end to the production, trade and stockpiling of cluster munitions.

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

08 May 2013

RACVIAC supports NATO quiz competition

The Croatian city of Dubrovnik will host one of the largest political meetings in 2013 - the autumn session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, taking place from 11 to 14 October this year. Some 800 parliamentarians from 28 NATO member countries are expected to attend the 59th NATO Parliamentary Assembly Session, the biggest political meeting ever to be held on Croatian soil. Among others, the conference will be attended by the entire Croatian state leadership, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and possibly the former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It will focus on the topics that have been dominating the world’s politics, such as Afghanistan, Syria, the Arab Spring and the smart defence concept.

In order to promote this event as much as possible, especially among high school and university students, the Croatian Parliamentary Delegation to NATO and North Atlantic Promotion Organization (NAPO) are organizing a NATO quiz competition in four South-Croatian Counties (Zadar County, Šibenik - Knin County, Split - Dalmatia County and Dubrovnik - Neretva County). The final competition will be held in RACVIAC, while the quiz winners will be awarded a trip to Brussels and a visit to the NATO HQ. They will also be introduced to the participants in the autumn session of the Parliamentary Assembly in Dubrovnik.

Supporting the Croatian Parliamentary Delegation to NATO in the organization of the above mentioned event, RACVIAC Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop took part in the promotion campaign organized from 06 to 07 May 2013 across the region of Dalmatia.

08 May 2013

Workshop on defence procurement

Co-organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation and TAIEX - Technical Assistance and Information Exchange Instrument of the European Commission, and hosted by the Ministry of Defence of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, a workshop on “The Aspects and Challenges of Defence Procurement” has started yesterday in Skopje.

The purpose of the workshop is to discuss and share information on aspects and challenges in the organization of defence procurement, with focus on corruption as one of the issues that needs special attention. It is also aimed at supporting and fostering the capacity-building process, exchange of experiences and best practices in the field of defence procurement.

The workshop was opened by Mr Sasho Stefanovski, State Secretary in the MK Ministry of Defence, and by Mr Lukas Melka, Head of Operations 1 Section, EU Delegation in Skopje, who underlined that more than 40 defence markets had been fragmented and that there were 27 different types of consumers and legal frameworks in the EU at the moment. Mr Melka also stressed that the goal should be the establishment of a single set of procurement rules in the European Union.

On behalf of the Director of RACVIAC, Ambassador Branimir Mandic, welcome address was given by Mr Milan Janicijevic, acting Programme Manager of the IRC Pillar, who said that gradual establishment of defence equipment market was essential for strengthening the defence technological and industrial base and developing military capabilities required to implement a national system and to be in alignment with the European Security and Defence Policy.

Bringing together more than 40 participants representing relevant state institutions and governmental and non-governmental organizations and agencies, the workshop is aimed at strengthening defence procurement organization, discussing the definitions, scope and principles of the European Public Procurement Policy as well as the Defence Procurement Directive 2009/81/E. More specifically, the event is an opportunity to discuss the financial and procurement rules of the European Defence Agency (EDA), security of supply for defence and security procurement, as well as to share best practices in fighting corruption in defence procurement and anti-corruption policies and strategies among EU candidate and potential candidate countries.

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

30 Apr 2013

Fire-fighting exercise took place in Rakitje barracks

Following good practice established in previous years, a fire-fighting exercise organized by the International Military Operations Training Centre (IMOTC) took place today in the Rakitje barracks. The exercise scenario started with a fire alarm siren and all RACVIAC staff was obliged to follow standard operating procedure in case of fire. Fire-fighters, coming from the local volunteer fire-fighting brigades based in Sveta Nedelja and Rakitje, demonstrated procedures in several cases: extinguishing of fire in a building, evacuation of injured personnel, extinguishing a burning vehicle.

All IMOTC and RACVIAC personnel had the opportunity to try out fire extinguishers and practice extinguishing flames outdoors. Finally, fire-fighting equipment and vehicles were exhibited. Thanks to fire-fighting brigades form Rakitje and Sveta Nedjelja all staff inside the barracks rest assured they are in safe hands in case fire breaks out. On that note, small tokens of appreciation were presented to the brigades by the barracks and IMOTC commander Lt Col Ivica Plejic and by RACVIAC Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop.

25 Apr 2013

Seminar on P(M)SC / National Security Sector finished

A two-day seminar on P(M)SC / National Security, organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation, has finished today. Bringing together participants from South Eastern Europe (SEE): members of parliaments, representatives of ombudsman institutions, ministries, chambers of commerce, private security companies, NGOs, academics as well as experts from DCAF Geneva and various national institutions and think-thanks, the seminar addressed several issues related to the P(M)SC and their activities, performance, transparency, accountability, etc.

Divided into three panels, the seminar provided participants with relevant general information on the history and growth of P(M)SC. It also outlined the changing nature of the P(M)SC and the impact on civil-military relations, gave an overview of the pros and cons of using P(M)SC and of some lessons learned from privatizing and outsourcing security. The participants were introduced to the options available for the effective regulation of P(M)SC and international regulations, such as the Monteux Document and the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers. The seminar was also an opportunity to exchange the information on the current trends related to the national experiences of regional countries on P(M)SC from the academic as well as private security companies’ point of view.

On the second day a special emphasis was given to the options for effective regulation of P(M)SC at the international level, as well as national experience with transposing international regulations to national legislation. In that regard, DCAF project officers Mr Ben Buckland and Mr André du Plessis gave very comprehensive presentations on the latest developments with regard to the Montreux Document and International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers.

They reminded the participants that the Montreux Document was the first international, legally non-binding document, applied to the activities of private military and security companies (PMSCs) whenever these are present in the context of armed conflict. Today the Montreux Document has 44 implementing States. It is worth mentioning that only 4 RACVIAC Member states, namely AL, BA, GR, and MK, have joined the Document so far.

As a step forward in taking the responsibility to respect human rights and to comply with international humanitarian law towards all those affected by their business, so far 603 private security companies have signed the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers. Establishment of an oversight mechanism of the P(M)SC is the main problem the stakeholders are facing nowadays. Agreement has been reached on the Charter for the Oversight Mechanism of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (ICoC). A large group of representatives from the signatory companies, civil society and governments were involved in the successful negotiations, which were held in Montreux in February 2013. The purpose of this independent governance and oversight mechanism, which will be based in Geneva, is to ensure certification of the PMSC compliance with the International CoC-based standards reporting monitoring and assessing performance of private security providers as well as the adoption of a third-party complaint process. The oversight mechanism will probably be formally launched and established in the summer of this year.

In the end, all participants agreed that the topic was extremely interesting and challenging at the same time. Having practitioners, academics and representatives of national institutions gathered in one place provided an excellent opportunity to share information, knowledge and good practices, especially as related to the oversight and legislative issues. The seminar was closed with a conclusion that all expectations were fully met and that RACVIAC has to continue dealing with this issue in the forthcoming period as well.

24 Apr 2013

Basic Regional Search and Rescue Course has started

With the welcome addresses given by Mr Zoran Sajinovic, Assistant Minister, Ministry of Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr Drago Radic, Civil Aviation Authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Ambassador Branimir Mandic, RACVIAC Director, Basic Regional Search and Rescue Course, hosted by the Ministry of Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina, has started today in Sarajevo.

The Course is a follow-up to the events organized by RACVIAC in 2011 and 2012, dedicated to the topic of search and rescue in South-Eastern Europe (SEE). Recognizing the importance of efficient SAR structures, national and regional alike, as one of the security issues that should be further discussed and explored, this year’s event aims to open a way ahead in the search and rescue area.

In his welcome speech, Ambassador Mandic highlighted that search and rescue issues had grown in importance in light of recent major natural disasters and accidents and the number of human losses resulting therefrom. He pointed out that nowadays, close cooperation and coordination among countries had become mandatory in order to ensure successful search and rescue operations. He also emphasized that “once national resources have been identified and structured, the cross-border SAR agreements in accordance with international recommendations can be established. In order to optimize the conditions and efforts needed, it is recommended to attempt a regional development in order to share and overcome various issues that our countries are potentially faced with. Different training and fact-finding events such as this one are very important tools in the international SAR community, making it possible to support and accelerate this process.”

The opening part of the Course was concluded with the Signing Ceremony of the Letter of Intent, aimed at promoting and strengthening further regional cooperation on search and rescue. The letter, signed by Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, will further support the establishment of national requirements and legal basis as a background for initiating regional and bilateral cross-border search and rescue cooperation and establishment of national and regional level of interdisciplinary SAR working groups responsible for processing and implementing search and rescue.

This year’s course focuses on: SAR concept, terms of reference documents, international SAR organization obligations, SAR working group mandate and tasks, national SAR laws and national SAR providing authority agreements. The course, supported by the Kingdom of Denmark, has gathered around 30 participants from RACVIAC member countries, civilian and military officials at decision-making levels and experts representing relevant national institutions dealing with SAR issues: Defence/Armed Forces, national RCC authorities, national Directorates for Search and Protection, Civil Aviation Authorities, Ministries of the Interior, Civil Emergency Management Authorities, etc.

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

24 Apr 2013

Seminar on Private (Military) Security Companies (P(M)SC) / National Security Sector has started in RACVIAC

A two-day seminar on P(M)SC / National Security Sector has started today in RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation. This event is the first one in a series of similar events aimed at becoming RACVIAC mid-term project focused on the changes in civil-military relations and the effects of privatisation of the security sector.

The purpose of the Seminar is three-fold. Firstly, it aims to bring together representatives from South Eastern Europe (SEE) and provide them with relevant general information on the global trends, rapid growth and changing nature of the private (military) security sector in the last two decades. Secondly, the seminar is aimed at outlining pros and cons of the use of P(M)SC and lessons learned in the course of security privatisation and outsourcing. Thirdly, the event aims to present the options for effective regulation of P(M)SC on international level and types of national legislation.

The seminar has gathered more than 30 participants, representatives of parliaments, ombudsman institutions, ministries, chambers of commerce, representatives of P(M)SC and NGOs from the SEE countries, academics as well as experts from DCAF Geneva and various national institutions and think-thanks. In the opening part of the seminar, DCAF Project Officers Mr André du Plessis and Mr Ben Buckland, gave a presentation on Definitions and Scope of P(M)SC, outlining also the main challenges related to the private (military) security sector, such as inherent governmental functions, personnel, multiple jurisdiction, oversight, etc. In accordance with the seminar agenda, the first day is divided into two major panels: Panel I on the History, Global Trends and Rapid Growth of P(M)S Sector and Impact on Civil Military Relations, and Panel II on Regional, National and Local Experiences of P(M)SC.

In the first Panel, presentations were given by Mr Robert Mikac, Ph.D., Head of Sector for Civil Protection – Commander of the Civil Protection of the Republic of Croatia, National Protection and Rescue Directorate; Mr Krisztian Varga, ELTE Faculty of Law Institute of Political Science, HU; Mr Vlatko Cvrtila, Ph.D., Professor, Faculty of Political Science, University of Zagreb and President of the Council of Croatian Association of Security Managers (UHMS).

Panel II started with the presentations “Regional Initiatives on P(M)SC Governance; the Sarajevo Code of Conduct“, given by Mr Emsad Dizdarević, CSS, Sarajevo, BA and “P(M)SC and Gender” given by Ms Ankica Tomić, Head of Department for International Relations, Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Background: Private (military) security companies and other private security providers play an important role in protecting state and non-state clients engaged in various activities. In providing these services, the activities of P(M)SC can have potentially positive and negative consequences for their clients, the local population in the area of operation, the general security environment, the enjoyment of human rights and the rule of law. To ensure higher level of human rights protection and the rule of law as the responsibility of P(M)SC, the government of the Swiss Confederation and the International Committee of the Red Cross, in cooperation with the representatives of 17 states (Afghanistan, Angola, Australia, Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Iraq, Poland, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, and the United States) launched an initiative resulting in the Montreux Document. A further step aimed at improving the level of human rights protection was the adoption of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers. Thereby, the Signatory Companies, PSCs, affirm their responsibility to respect human rights and fulfil humanitarian responsibilities towards all those affected by their business activities.

17 Apr 2013

RACVIAC Research Project on Defence Conversion presented

On the margins of the 29th MAG Meeting RACVIAC SSR Pillar Research Project entitled “Defence Conversion Modalities in South-East Europe (SEE) – Specific Regional Model” was presented yesterday.

The project included experts nominated by the Republic of Albania, Republic of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Moldova, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* and the Republic of Serbia, who were designated to two Project Areas: Transition of Military Personnel and Military Base Conversion. It is worth mentioning that this project also reflects the great cooperation and support provided by the Kingdom of Norway and the Republic of Slovenia.

Background: RACVIAC first started tackling the subject matter of defence conversion following the Concept Paper on Defence Conversion in South Eastern Europe issued after the meeting of Defence Ministries of South-East European Cooperation Process, held in Bucharest in 2005. In accordance with this Concept Paper, RACVIAC organized more than 20 workshops addressing transition of military personnel and military base conversion issues. This endeavour was continued with the project on defence conversion modalities in South Eastern Europe, launched in 2011.

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

17 Apr 2013

The 29th MAG & Budgetary Meeting conducted

The 29th MAG & Budgetary Meeting, the semi-annual summit of RACVIAC’s steering body - the Multinational Advisory Group, took place in Rakitje, from 15 to 16 April. The meeting, gathering the majority of member countries of the MAG, as well as the representative of Regional Cooperation Council, was organized by the MAG Chairmanship of the Republic of Croatia. It started on Monday 15 April with the Budgetary Meeting, which gave an opportunity to MAG representatives to discuss all relevant issues regarding RACVIAC’s Budget for 2013 and projections for the future.

Ms Vesna Batistic Kos, the Chair Lady, opening the meeting outlined the main achievements gained in the past few months of her mandate: the Host Nation Agreement between RACVIAC and the Croatian Government was signed; Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affaires seconded a diplomat to the Centre in order to facilitate cooperation between RACVIAC and the host nation. She also pointed out that with the project oriented approach RACVIAC has a huge potential not only to conduct the planned programme activities, but also to broaden the scope of its cooperation within the network of international and regional organizations. “As a regionally based, staffed and owned organization RACVIAC is an excellent platform for increasing regional security and cooperation“, Ms Batistic Kos said.

The meeting Agenda consisted of a brief presentation of the Director’s Annual Report provided by the Director of RACVIAC Ambassador Branimir Mandic, who highlighted the most important achievements gained in the reporting period, especially in terms of intensified communication and cooperation with the member countries and international and regional organizations and initiatives. He informed the auditory about the Centre's intention to expand its scope of activities and a network of partners and co-operators, with the aim to secure sustainable funds and long-term partners. He also took this opportunity to present some ongoing challenges, particularly regarding the issues of secondment of personnel.

Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop, RACVIAC Deputy Director, informed the MAG representatives about the current personnel situation in the Centre, which is the biggest challenge the Centre is facing currently, since that during 2013 a significant number of the seconded personnel is leaving. It is especially worrying to find out that for some of them there are no replacement plans.

Deputy Director’s presentation was followed by the presentations given by RACVIAC Programme Managers, Colonel Zafer Kilic, Mr Branko Kromar, M.Sc. and Mr Milan Janicijevic with regard to respective programme achievements in 2012, activities in 2013 and projections for 2014. In addition to that, Major Sasa Konjevic informed the MAG about the work of RACVIAC Programme Development Group, introducing project oriented approach.

Subsequently, MAG accepted the recommendations form the Budgetary Meeting held day before as well as draft of the MAG conclusions. The whole event finished with the conclusion that in 2012 RACVIAC has continued to be widely recognized brand in the field of security cooperation in the region of South Eastern Europe (SEE), having at the same time very ambitious plans for the future.

15 Apr 2013

MAG Meeting has started

The 29th semi-annual meeting of RACVIAC’s steering body - the Multinational Advisory Group (MAG) has started today with the Budgetary Meeting.

MAG representatives were introduced with the current budgetary issues as well as projections for the future. The semi-annual meeting will continue tomorrow with the presentations and discussions on the Director’s Annual Report for 2012, as well as RACVIAC programme of activities and current personnel situation.

12 Apr 2013

MAG & Budgetary Meeting starts on Monday

The 29th semi-annual meeting of RACVIAC’s steering body - the Multinational Advisory Group (MAG) is taking place from 15 - 16 April 2013 in RACVIAC. The Meeting is organized under the Croatian MAG Chairmanship and it will gather the majority of RACVIAC member countries. The purpose of this Meeting is to introduce the Director’s Annual Report, which covers the period throughout the year 2012, as a primary tool of information on RACVIAC work, aims, achievements, status and all other relevant issues. The MAG members will also be provided with detailed information on: realization of the RACVIAC 2012 programme, ongoing 2013 programme, programme projections for the upcoming years, current personnel situation and budgetary matters.

11 Apr 2013

Host Nation Agreement signed

With regard to Article 19 of the Agreement on RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, the Host Nation Agreement (HNA) was signed today by Mr Zeljko Klisovic, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, and Ambassador Branimir Mandic, Director of RACVIAC. The signing ceremony was also attended by Ms Vesna Batistic Kos, MAG Chairperson and Assistant Minister for Multilateral Affairs and Global Issues, Croatian MFEA, Mr Zoran Drca, Assistant Minister of Defence, and Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop, RACVIAC Deputy Director.

This Agreement defines legal personality, capacity, privileges and immunities of RACVIAC as an international organization seated in Croatia as well as privileges and immunities of RACVIAC personnel.

Upon signing the HNA, Mr Klisovic said that RACVIAC proved to be a reliable partner and an important factor in promoting regional security dialogue and common values. He added that the HNA was also a step forward, proving that RACVIAC was no longer an initiative, but rather an international, regionally owned organization.

Ambassador Mandic used this opportunity to express once more his appreciation for the great support Croatia has been providing to the Centre since its establishment. He pointed out that the HNA would be an additional incentive to the member countries to second personnel, thus fulfilling the obligations accepted under the Agreement on RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation. He stressed that the HNA would also give an impetus to all RACVIAC staff continuing to follow the Centre’s mission to enhance and promote security dialogue in South East Europe.

10 Apr 2013

Workshop on Border Security finished

The second “Workshop on Early Warning Messages and Regional Risk Analysis”, under the DCAF Border Security Programme, co-organized by DCAF Ljubljana and RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, finished on 10 April 2013.

This event, aimed at technical and substantial training in the use of “Sentry”, a world wide web application for the management of the early warning messages that enables on-line data and information input, brought together police experts and police practitioners from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro, Slovenia and Serbia. The workshop also focused on the criteria under which national information is to be given the status of early warning information, important for other participating countries and therefore uploaded to “Sentry”.

The entire workshop was operationally oriented and focused on realistic scenario data input to the border “Sentry” application, possible changes to the application and on additional technical issues (screen-text language application, information-text language, geographical data input, etc.). There was an extensive discussion on the goals, methods, outputs and use of descriptive and inferential statistics as a tool for providing real-time risk analyses.

Since all the participating countries have their national early warning systems and are obliged to send data to FRONTEX on a monthly basis, this was also an opportunity to discuss how to harmonise the data needed for national use with FRONTEX in order to avoid duplication. Some legal aspects of the “ownership” of information available through the application were also discussed. Since the application is still in the testing phase, it will certainly undergo some changes and enhancements in the upcoming period.

All participants agreed that this application would be very useful for the authorized personnel, since it would enable them to have all the necessary information on illegal migration, drug and arms trafficking, counterfeiting, forged identity and travel documents in the region readily available in a timely manner.

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

09 Apr 2013

Workshop on Border Security started at RACVIAC

Second “Workshop on Early Warning Messages and Regional Risk Analysis”, under the DCAF Border Security Programme, started today in RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.

The workshop is the follow-up of the meeting held in Ohrid, MK in September 2012, with the aim to facilitate intelligence–led policing in the Western Balkans pertaining to the areas falling under the responsibility of the border police. Based on the outcomes of the Ohrid Workshop, DCAF experts have designed a logical structure of the relational data base management system, all the necessary code tables and data management processes. The working name of the world-wide-web application for the management of the early warning messages, which enables on-line data and information input, is “Sentry”.

Workshop participants, border police practitioners in the filed of early warning and risk analysis, coming from AL, BA, HR, ME, MK, RS, SI, and TR will be trained in the use of “Sentry” not only technically but also substantially. They will also focus on the criteria under which the national information is to be given the status of the early warning information, important for other participating countries and therefore uploaded to “Sentry”.

Opening the seminar, RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic said that the Centre was aware of the role and importance of international cooperation in creating a positive image of developing effective and efficient police systems as well as border security.

04 Apr 2013

RACVIAC Director and Deputy Director attended the RASR Workshop

RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic and Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop participated in the 6th Workshop of the South East Europe Regional Approach to Stockpile Reduction (RASR) of Conventional Weapons and Munitions, held from 4 - 5 April 2013 in Bled, Slovenia.

In accordance with the Workshop agenda, Ambassador Mandic chaired two sessions: “Western Balkan experiences in the area of import-export and transit of weapons/ammunition and dual use goods”, and “Presentations of RASR member states on their national frameworks regulating the area of import-export and transit of weapons/ammunition and dual-use goods”, while Brigadier General Jakop gave a presentation on RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation.

Before handing over the floor to the speakers, Ambassador Mandic pointed out that Small Arms and Light Weapons, conventional weapons and ammunition and dual-use goods had been on the agenda of many events of different organizations for decades. However, he emphasized “it is clear that there is no single model for an export control system due to the great diversity in the legal and administrative systems in different countries”. He added that there were some key elements, which any export control system should have in order to be effective. These include clear legal basis establishing jurisdiction over relevant parties and activities, a transparent inter-agency coordination and decision-making, mechanism for licensing, enforcement authorities, etc. He concluded by saying that in the SEE there were several hundred thousand tons of surplus weapons and ammunition to be destroyed and while some of these could be destroyed in place, others had to be taken to a proper facility.

31 MAR 2013

RACVIAC Director paid a visit to the Ministry of Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina

On 28 March 2013, RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic paid an inaugural visit to the Ministry of Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ambassador Mandic was welcomed by Defence Minister Zekerijah Osmic and Deputy Defence Minister Mirko Okolic. During the meeting, Ambassador Mandic informed the hosts about RACVIAC programme of activities for 2013 and its future plans. The representatives agreed on the importance of cooperation between the countries of the region in the framework of RACVIAC and similar centres and initiatives.

The Defence Minister and his Deputy expressed their satisfaction with the meeting, reiterating that the Ministry of Defence would continue to support the work of RACVIAC. Finally, they have agreed that the cooperation between the Ministry and the Centre needs to be further intensified.

27 MAR 2013

RACVIAC Deputy Director gave a presentation at NATO HQ Brussels

On 26 March 2013, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop, RACVIAC Deputy Director, gave a presentation on “Cooperative Security and the Role of RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation” at the NATO Euro Atlantic Partnership Military Committee/Permanent Session at the NATO HQ in Brussels.

The presentation was made upon the request from NATO Military Committee in the Partnership for Peace format in order to provide a better understanding of RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation in the context of cooperative security environment. The meeting was attended by representatives of 28 NATO member and 22 PfP countries, as well as by representatives of NATO HQ divisions. The presentation was focused on RACVIAC’s role in strengthening security dialogue in the SEE region and possibilities for more intensified cooperation between NATO and RACVIAC in the future.

27 MAR 2013

Workshop on EU Common Foreign and Security Policy has started today

A two-day multi-beneficiary workshop on “Guidelines on Implementation and Evaluation of Restrictive Measures (Sanctions) in the Framework of the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy”, co-organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Technical Assistance and Information Exchange Instrument (TAIEX), DG Enlargement, European Commission, has started today in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The purpose of the workshop is to support and foster capacity building process in Southeast European (SEE) countries that are EU candidate or potential candidate countries. The event aims to present Common Foreign Security Policy /Common Security Defence Policy objectives set out in the Treaty on European Union and legal EU instruments; to present the types and categories of sanctions or restrictive measures which the EU applies and their monitoring and evaluation; to review implementation and achievements of restrictive measures (sanctions) in the framework of Common Foreign and Security Policy; to provide the opportunity for the exchange of experience and lessons learned in the process of implementation of international restrictive measures in the SEE countries, thus highlighting and promoting further co-operation among the SEE countries.

The workshop has gathered more than 60 participants, officials at the decision-making level and experts representing relevant ministries dealing with the topic.

The workshop was opened by Ana Trisic-Babic, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Ambassador Branimir Mandic, RACVIAC Director.

During these two days, participants will be given an overview of the legal EU framework; EU sanctions regime; UN sanctions regimes and relation between EU and UN legal orders; principles and legal issues in establishing and implementing restrictive measures; practical tasks and challenges in enforcing restrictive measures; experiences and lessons learned from the process of implementation of international restrictive measures and monitoring of restrictive measures. These topics will be covered in the presentations given by representatives coming from Austria, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden.

25 MAR 2013

Albanian Ambassador visited RACVIAC

On 25th March 2013, H.E. Pëllumb Qazimi, the Ambassador of the Republic of Albania to the Republic of Croatia, paid a courtesy visit to RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation. The guest was welcomed by the Director of RACVIAC, Ambassador Branimir Mandic.

The two ambassadors discussed RACVIAC programme of activities, plans for the forthcoming period and possibilities for a more intensified future cooperation between RACVIAC and the Albanian national institutions dealing with security matters. Ambassador Qazimi used this opportunity to donate a book entitled Albania - the Military and Foreign Influence (1912-1991), which he authored himself.

21 MAR 2013

CWC seminar has finished

A four-day Chemical Weapons Convention Seminar, co-organized with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), has finished today in RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.

The first day of the seminar primarily dealt with the status of implementation of Article X, capacity building, regional approach, role and capability of the OPCW in the delivery of assistance.

Continuing the well-established cooperation, the The second day was reserved for national presentations on the implementation of the CWC focusing on Article X. Mr Nuno Goncalves, Inspector, Chemical Production Technologist, OPCW, gave an overview of the main types of chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals, analysis of modern threats related to the possible use of warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals as chemical weapons. Zoran Orehovec, PhD, gave a very interesting, comprehensive, independent view of the military, technical and defence security standards on industrial facilities protection in case of terrorism and military attack. On the last day, the participants took part in a tabletop exercise on typical Schedule 2 and OPCW inspections. Under the CWC, Schedule 2, contains chemicals which are considered to pose a significant risk to the object and purpose of the Convention but which also have legitimate commercial uses in quantities in excess of one tone per year.

The seminar was an opportunity to discuss and clarify CWC related matters that were not included in the Agenda, and to raise awareness of the CWC itself, thus contributing to successful CWC implementation in the SEE region. This event also proved to be a good example of a strong cooperation between RACVIAC and the OPCW.

19 MAR 2013

Chemical Weapons Convention Seminar has started

The Chemical Weapons Convention Seminar, co-organized with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), has started today in RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation. The seminar is a continuation of a ten-year-long cooperation between RACVIAC and the OPCW in promoting the implementation of the CWC in South Eastern Europe, enhancing regional stability, transparency and confidence.

The purpose of this seminar is to discuss substantial issues related to the CWC and to provide a broad overview of the Convention implementation procedures as well as general outline of specific conditions in the region. The seminar has gathered 26 participants, civilian and military officials, from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, and Serbia as well as lecturers from the OPCW.

Continuing the well-established cooperation, the Australian Ambassador to Croatia, H.E. Ms Susan Cox, made a contribution to the opening part of the seminar by giving a comprehensive presentation entitled ''The Recent Events - Activities of Australia Group and the Effort in Harmonizing Export Controls on Chemical Weapons''.

In his opening speech, Mr Andrew Jan Van Veen, Special Advisor on International Cooperation and Assistance, Office of the Deputy Director General, OPCW, has said that although this Convention is one of the most important arms control conventions ever, it is faced with several challenges. Among the operational and technical challenges, universality is the most important one. The Convention has 188 state parties, two signatories that haven’t ratified it yet and non-state parties: Angola, Egypt, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan and Syria. Reminding the participants of the consequences of the chemical weapons use, he recalled that Saturday, 16 March, marked the 25th anniversary of the chemical attack carried out in 1988 by Saddam Hussein's regime in the Iraqi city of Halabja.

The seminar, in addition to the overview of the current status, tasks, activities and challenges regarding the CWC and OPCW, will give particular attention to Article X of the CWC related to assistance and protection against chemical weapons and toxic industrial chemicals. Special attention will be paid to the national protection programmes in the countries of the sub-region, problems and developments in this area, as well as to inspection and verification activities and procedures.

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

19 MAR 2013

Working meeting held with SEESAC and MARRI representatives

Yesterday, on the 18 of March 2013, after the Ambassadorial Meeting, RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Branimir Mandic, and Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop, met with the representatives of the South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC) and the Migration, Asylum, Refugees Regional Initiative (MARRI).

The purpose of the meeting, agreed upon during bilateral talks initiated by RACVIAC, was to discuss the annual programme of activities, as well as the possibilities of intensified cooperation. The delegations also considered a possibility to organize a regular annual meeting, with the participation of all regional organization and initiatives, as a platform for regular data exchange and harmonization of planned activities in the region.

The interlocutors declared their willingness to open new areas of cooperation and pursued the objective of developing a regional approach to strengthening security and stability in the region.

On this occasion, the Memorandum of Understanding between RACVIAC and MARRI was signed with a view to establishing and enhancing the cooperation between the two organisations that undertook to support each other in the fields of migration, demographics and other issues of mutual interest.

18 MAR 2013

Ambassadorial meeting took place

Organized by RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and honoured with the attendance of the President of the Republic of Croatia, the Ambassadorial Meeting took place today. As RACVIAC successfully finished its process of transformation into the international, independent, academic and regionally owned organisation, the purpose of the Meeting was to introduce RACVIAC Members and partners with the current status, challenges and future plans of the Centre.

On this occasion the President of the Republic of Croatia, Mr Ivo Josipovic, delivered a speech on the "Regional Security and Cooperation". Mr President has pointed out that in the last decade Croatia has become a reliable actor in providing stability in the international scene, while RACVIAC, as the only international organisation based in Croatia, plays a significant role in fostering dialogue and cooperation on security matters in South East Europe.

A general overview of RACVIAC’s history, structure and aims was given by RACVIAC Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop. Focusing on recent developments and future vision of RACVIAC, RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Branimir Mandic, highlighted the achievements made in intensifying cooperation with other regional organisations and initiatives with the aim to secure sustainable funds and long-term partners. He also stressed that the biggest challenge RACVIAC is facing at the moment is the lack of seconded personnel nominated by RACVIAC Member states.

Gathering more than 50 representatives of RACVIAC Member countries and partners, as well as heads of regional organisations, the Meeting proved to be a high-level event, reflecting a great interest of RACVIAC Members and partners in RACVIAC as a platform for dialogue and cooperation.

15 MAR 2013

Ambassadorial meeting

Honoured with the attendance of the President of the Republic of Croatia, RACVIAC is organizing Ambassadorial Meeting on18th March 2013. On this occasion, the President, Dr. Ivo Josipovic, will deliver a speech on the "Current developments in the regional security and cooperation".

The purpose of the Meeting is to introduce RACVIAC Members and partners with the current status, challenges and future plans of the Centre.

The Meeting will gather more than 50 representatives of RACVIAC Member countries and partners, as well as heads of regional organisations.

With the ratification of the new Agreement in December 2011, RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation successfully finished the process of transformation into the international, independent, academic and regionally-owned organisation with the mission to foster dialogue and cooperation on security matters in South East Europe.

15 MAR 2013

Round table on gender conducted

A two-day Round Table on “SSR and Gender: Implementation of the UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820”, co-organized by the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, was closed yesterday.

The Round Table gathered more than 40 participants, the representatives from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Ministries of Defence, Ministries of Interior and Ministries of Security from the following countries: AL, BA, HR, ME, MK, RS, and SI, as well as the representatives from the public sector, experts from various national institutions and think-thanks. Highly competent speakers included: Ms Vesna Batistic Kos, MAG Chairperson, Assistant Minister for Multilateral Affairs and Global Issues, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, HR; Ms Visnja Ljubicic, Ombudsperson for Gender Equality of the Republic of Croatia; H.E. Ms Nancy Rossignol, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to the Republic of Croatia; Ms Melita Mulic, Member of the Gender Equality and Human Rights and Minorities Equality Committees, Croatian Parliament; as well as the representatives from DCAF Geneva; SEESAC; The Ss. Cyril and Methodius University, Skopje, MK; Primorska University, Koper, SI; the Gender Equality Agency, BA; Belgrade Centre for Security Policy; Centre for Women’s Studies, Zagreb, HR; Gender Task Force, HR.

The Round Table addressed relevant information on gender as one of the core aspects of security sector reform from the international and national point of view and highlighted the gender perspective in different national institutions. Special attention was given to the representation of women at different levels of the decision-making process, especially in the security sector institutions. The last session was dedicated to the presentations of National Action Plans for the implementation of the UNSCR 1325 and related resolutions in the SEE countries. Some practical experiences in regional cooperation aimed at mainstreaming a gender perspective into security sector reform were also presented.

The Round Table was concluded with several proposals such as a need to organize training with regard to the implementation of the UNSCR 1325 and 1820.

The event met all expectations - it was interactive and challenging to some extent, producing a fine blend of institutional and civil society approach and visions concerning gender equality.

As a specific outcome of this Round Table, RACVIAC SSR Pillar, Gender Equality Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina put forward the initiative to organise a joint event addressing mechanisms and standardisation aspects of National Action Plans on Gender Equality. In addition, Mr Mirko Okolic, Deputy Minister of Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina also launched an idea endorsing an event that could be organised in the field of Gender Equality.

15 MAR 2013

French Ambassador visited RACVIAC

On 14 March 2013, the Ambassador of the French Republic, H.E. Ms Michèle Boccoz, accompanied by Colonel Eric Prigent, Military Attaché, visited RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation. The occasion for the visit was the desire expressed by H.E. Ms Boccoz to make personal acquaintance with RACVIAC’s mission, aims and organisation.

The Director of RACVIAC, Ambassador Branimir Mandic, together with the Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop, and RACVIAC staff members welcomed the distinguished guests.

After the presentation on the history, mission, annual programme of activities and accomplishments of RACVIAC, the French delegation and their hosts engaged in a very interesting discussion on RACVIAC’s programme, plans for the future and possibilities for further cooperation.

Ms Ambassador showed significant interest in RACVIAC’s achievements, current activities and plans for the forthcoming period, and expressed her willingness to create a more targeted and cooperative relationship between RACVIAC and France, as a RACVIAC Associate member. Since France used to be actively involved in RACVIAC, H.E. Ms Boccoz expressed her intention to explore the possibilities for France to get re-involved in the Centre more substantially than in the past few years.

15 MAR 2013

Italian Joint Services Staff College visited RACVIAC

Yesterday, on the 14 of March 2013, RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation hosted attendants of the Italian Joint Services Staff College led by Rear Admiral Valerio Boldrini. The purpose of this visit was to get the guest better acquainted with the status, function and Programme of RACVIAC, in the framework of their current study trip to the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia.

The Italian Joint Services Staff College representatives were welcomed by the Director of RACVIAC, Ambassador Branimir Mandic, RACVIAC Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop and senior RACVIAC staff members. During the visit, Brigadier General Jakop provided the guests with a brief outline of RACVIAC's history, mission, annual programme of activities, completed process of transformation, new Agreement on RACVIAC and plans for the forthcoming period.

Later on, all participants demonstrated a great deal of understanding of the subject matter through their to-the-point questions and comments during a lively Q&A session and a subsequent open discussion.

13 MAR 2013

Roundtable on SSR and Gender has started

A two-day Round Table on “SSR and Gender: Implementation of the UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820”, co-organized by the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation has started today at the premises of the Ministry. The opening speeches were given by Ms Vesna Batistic Kos, MAG Chairperson, Assistant Minister for Multilateral Affairs and Global Issues, Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs; Ambassador Branimir Mandic, RACVIAC Director; Ms Visnja Ljubicic, Ombudsperson for Gender Equality of the Republic of Croatia and H.E. Ms Nancy Rossignol, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to the Republic of Croatia.

The round table gathered more than 40 participants representing parliaments, national human rights protection ombudsman institutions, Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Ministries of Defence, Ministries of Interior, as well as representatives of the public sector and NGOs, DCAF, SEESAC and experts from various national institutions and think-thanks.

Opening the round table, Ms Vesna Batistic Kos said that the status and the role of women is an indicator of democratic maturity and stability, as well as the measure of success of every society. She also pointed out that continuous improvement aimed at keeping a national record of empowerment of women represents a way to gain legitimacy in addressing gender-based discrimination and violence in the world.

Expressing his personal appreciation to all the participants for recognising the importance of Security Sector Reform aspects addressed by RACVIAC, Ambassador Mandic said that in addition to other core aspects and elements of SSR which could be considered as strengthening regional countries in relation to others, the implementation of gender-driven principles could definitely make individual societies stronger and more secure internally.

A very interesting speech was delivered by H.E. Ms Nancy Rossignol, who pointed out that although the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 was a groundbreaking document when it was adopted in 2000, now progress has to be made in the official implementation as well as in monitoring of the implementation of that Resolution.

After the opening part at the premises of the Ministry, the round table was continued at RACVIAC, Rakitje, with comprehensive presentations on institutional experience delivered by Mr Mirko Okolic, Deputy Minister, MoD of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ms Visnja Ljubicic, Ombudsperson for Gender Equality of the Republic of Croatia, and Ms Melita Mulic, member of the Croatian Parliamentary Committee for Gender Equality.

12 MAR 2013

Roundtable on SSR and Gender starts tomorrow

A two-day roundtable on “SSR and Gender: Implementation of the UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820”, co-organized by Ministry of Foreign and European Affaires and RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation starts tomorrow.

The round table will be opened by Ms Vesna Pusic, Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affaires, at the premises of the Ministry. After the opening speeches given by Ambassador Branimir Mandic, RACVIAC Director; Ms Vesna Batistic Kos, MAG Chairperson, Assistant Minister for Multilateral Affairs and Global Issues, MF& EA, HR; Ms Visnja Ljubicic, Ombudsperson for Gender Equality of the Republic of Croatia and H.E. Ms Nancy Rossignol, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to the Republic of Croatia; the event will continue at RACVIAC, Rakitje.

The purpose of the event that will be executed in RACVIAC and the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs in the period of 13-14 March 2013 is two-fold. Firstly, it aims to bring together the representatives from South Eastern Europe (SEE) and provide them with relevant general information on the norms guiding Security Sector Reform and gender with a main focus on the UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820, 2004 OSCE Action Plan, European norms and regional instruments for promoting gender equality. Secondly, it aims to encourage the participants from parliaments, ombudsman institutions, ministries, governments and NGOs from the SEE countries to present their experiences in implementing Action Plans with measures to strengthen the role of women in public sector.

The roundtable gathers more than 40 participants, representing parliaments, national human rights protection ombudsman institutions, Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Ministries of Defence, Ministries of Interior, as well as representatives of the public sector and NGOs, DCAF and experts from various national institutions and think-thanks.

11 MAR 2013

RACVIAC PLO gave a presentation at NATO HQ Brussels

On 8 March 2013, Major Sasa Konjevic, RACVIAC Planning and Liaison Officer for SEE, gave a presentation on “Cooperative Security and the Role of RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation” at the NATO HQ in Brussels on the occasion of the meeting of the Military Committee Working Group (Cooperation) + Partnership for Peace, which serves as a consultation forum for military issues between Allies and Partners, as well as a preparatory forum for EAPMC/PS meetings.

The meeting was attended by representatives of 28 NATO member and 22 PfP countries, as well as by representatives of NATO HQ divisions. The presentation was focused on RACVIAC’s role in the SEE region and possibilities for deepening and widening cooperation between NATO and RACVIAC.

08 MAR 2013

Vienna Document 2011 course conducted

Five-day Vienna Document 2011 Formation/Unit Commanders’ Course, coorganized with the Hungarian Ministry of Defence at the premises of the Hungarian Defence Forces Non-Commissioned Officers Academy in Szentendre, Hungary, has finished today. RACVIAC has been organizing Vienna Document courses for the countries of South East European region since 2001.

The purpose of this course was to give formation/unit commanders an overview of the VD ’11 and to provide a comprehensive theoretical analysis and guidance on the practical implementation of the relevant activities. It focused on the duties and responsibilities of the formation/unit commanders engaged in the implementation of the aforementioned document, thus demonstrating the real spirit of confidence and security building measures. During the practical part of the course, participants have been provided with the opportunity to exercise evaluation visit to a military unit, thus demonstrating the operations that should constitute a platform for future cooperation on the national, regional and international levels.

The course gathered more than 40 participants and lecturers from Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Germany, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain and USA, as well as representatives from the Austrian Institute for Political Science and OSCE.

In the margins of the course, RACVIAC Director Branimir Mandic had a working lunch with Dr. László Deák, Deputy Director General, Department for Security Policy and Non-Proliferation, Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Mr Tas Kelemen, Head of Defence Policy Department, Ministry of Defence. He also had a meeting at the Ministry of Defence with Mr Péter Siklósi, Deputy State Secretary for Defence Policy and Planning. As a newly appointed Director of RACVIAC, Ambassador Mandic assured the Hungarian officials of his personal readiness to strengthen the Centre’s role and capacities in addressing new security challenges and responding to the changing security needs of the region while broadening the scope of activities and links with other international and regional organizations. The hosts expressed their intention to continue supporting RACVIAC in the same manner as they did so far. Ambassador Mandic took this opportunity to invite MoD officials to visit RACVIAC and take part in RACVIAC activities as lecturers.

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

05 MAR 2013

Croatian War College Ban Josip Jelacic visited RACVIAC

Yesterday, on the 4 of March 2012, RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation hosted students from the Croatian War College Ban Josip Jelacic, accompanied by Colonel Antun Cicak, War College Commander, and Colonel Miro Colic, Military Strategy and Operations Course Coordinator. The guests visited RACVIAC in the framework of the regular College Curriculum. They were welcomed by the Deputy Director of RACVIAC, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop and RACVIAC Operations Manager, Captain Nevena Skender Markic. Brigadier General Jakop provided the guests with a brief outline of RACVIAC's history, mission, annual programme of activities, completed process of transformation, new Agreement on RACVIAC and plans for the forthcoming period. In the second part of the visit, RACVIAC Deputy Director delivered a presentation on Arms Control as Means of International Cooperation.

Later on, all participants demonstrated a great deal of understanding of the subject matter through their to-the-point questions and comments during a lively Q&A session and a subsequent open discussion.

28 FEB 2013

RACVIAC Director paid a visit to the Montenegrin Ministry of Defence

With the purpose of enhancing and strengthening cooperation and exchanging information with the Member countries, RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic paid a visit to the Ministry of Defence of Montenegro on 28 February 2013.

Ambassador Mandic was welcomed by the Assistant Minister for Defence Policy, Mr Ivan Masulovic and Minister’s Advisor for Military Issues LtCol Rajko Pesic. During their conversation, Ambassador Mandic informed the hosts about the programme of activities for 2013 as well as about the Centre’s intention to expand its scope of activities and a network of partners and co-operators. He took this opportunity to present some ongoing challenges, particularly regarding the issues of secondment of personnel. He also expressed his appreciation for the continuous support Montenegro has been providing to RACVIAC.

Mr Masulovic pointed out that cooperation, as an interactive relationship, should become constant in regional relations in all areas, particularly in the area of defence and security. He also announced continued support to RACVIAC, in line with their national capacities.

27 FEB 2013

MoU with SELEC signed

On 27 February 2013, Mr Gurbuz Bahadir, Director General, Southeast European Law Enforcement Centre (SELEC), visited RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation. The visit was organized on the occasion of signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between RACVIAC and SELEC. The purpose of the MoU is to continue and enhance the cooperation between the two Centres in order to combat trans-border crime and prevent threats to public order and security for the benefit of the SEE region.

Identification of common areas of concern related to the scope of activities of both Centres, planning and implementing common projects and seeking each other’s expertise will certainly strengthen abilities of the Centres to carry out their respective missions and responsibilities, while optimizing the use of resources and minimizing duplication. Subsequently, both sides expressed their hope that the MoU would meet RACVIAC and SELEC Member states’ needs and requests, while further fostering cooperation and dialogue in the SEE.

26 FEB 2013

Inaugural visit to UNODC Vienna and MoD Austria

On 25th and 26th February 2013, RACVIAC delegation, consisting of RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic and Planning and Liaison Officer for Western Europe and International Organizations Colonel Ferdinand Klinser MSD, visited UNODC, the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, and Major General Michele Torres - Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for Article IV of Annex 1B of the Dayton Peace Accords, in Vienna.

As this was the inaugural visit to UNODC for the RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Mandic, he wanted to use this opportunity to introduce himself in person and to present the management’s approach that will be utilized in order to develop and further stabilize RACVIAC following its Strategy 2012-2015. An additional goal of the visit was to discuss the possibilities for deepening and widening the cooperation between the two organizations with a specific focus on an MoU between the two organizations and the UNODC’s Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe 2012-2015 which is aimed at working in strong partnership with regional organizations and officials.

These goals were fulfilled through a highly productive, efficient and promising meeting with the representatives of UNODC holding key positions for the future cooperation with RACVIAC: Mr Aldo Lale-Demoz, Director for Operations, Mr Tullio Santini, Chief Regional Section for Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean, Mr Diman Dimov, Project Coordinator, Ms Ekaterina Kolykhalova, Programme Officer Regional Section for Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean, and Mr Vladan Golubovic, Consultant Regional Section for Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean.

During the visit to the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs of the Republic of Austria, Ambassador Mandic met with Ambassador Dr Jandl and Brigadier General Reinhard Trischak, Head of Military Policy Division in the Austrian Ministry of Defense and Sports. Their discussions covered a wide range of topics related to the current status of RACVIAC, programme of activities, vision for the future and development. The future-orientated approach aimed at making Austria RACVIAC's contact country, arbiter and broker in the EU-related security issues and in the access to the EU bodies was assessed as a “wonderful idea” and will be gladly supported by Austria.

The meeting with Major General Michele Torres, Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for Article IV of Annex 1B of the Dayton Peace Accords, turned out to be an indispensable opportunity to exchange views on the latest developments and future steps to be taken in view of professional fulfilment of the Dayton Agreement.

22 FEB 2013

Defence Accountability in the Framework of CSDP seminar conducted

A two-day seminar entitled "Defence Accountability in the Framework of Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)" finished yesterday in RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation.

The purpose of the seminar was to present the role of national defence systems within the EU CSDP with a special emphasis on the context of budget cuts and general economic and financial hardship.

At the outset, the activity focused on explaining the meaning and use of terms responsibility and accountability, since the majority of the SEE countries have only one word (odgovornost) for both of these concepts. It continued with a presentation on European Defence Agency Code of Conduct aimed at increasing transparency and with the elaboration of horizontal and vertical accountability and their effects on the overall defence system output.

Additionally, the seminar provided an overview of the most recent accountability mechanisms implemented in various security sector settings, with an assessment of their weaknesses and strengths and elaborated on the benefits of institutionalisation of accountability within the defence system as well as on what would be some possible outcomes of justifiable public expenditures.

A very comprehensive discussion was developed with regard to the presentation on professional identity and integrity as well as on defence budgets cuts and subsequent repercussions on defence outputs and civil - military relations.

Opening some new questions with regard to the responsibility and accountability in defence systems, the seminar provided an excellent opportunity to exchange ideas and informational not only between defence system actors, but also between academics and independent, non-state actors.

20 FEB 2013

Agreement between Germany and RACVIAC signed

On 20 February 2013, H.E. Mr Hans Peter Annen, German Ambassador to Croatia, and the Director of RACVIAC, Ambassador Branimir Mandic, signed the Financial Agreement between RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and the Federal Republic of Germany for the year 2013.

With this Agreement, the Federal Republic of Germany allocated 60.000,00 Euro which will be used for the project “RACVIAC project work 2013” to cover the costs of seminars, courses and workshops, especially within the RACVIAC programme pillar “Cooperative Security Environment (CSE), with focus on Arms Control”.

RACVIAC representatives, Ambassador Branimir Mandic and Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop, acknowledged the cooperation with Germany as a mainstay of the SEE region’s progress and security for over a decade. Owing to continual German 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, Vienna Document, Open Skies Treaty, 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.

It is worth mentioning that in addition to the financial contribution, the Federal Republic of Germany supported RACVIAC with staff officers seconded to the Centre for more than 12 years, as well as with a number of highly competitive experts in a wide range of security issues.

20 FEB 2013

Defence Accountability in the Framework of CSDP

A two-day seminar entitled "Defence Accountability in the Framework of Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)" has started today in RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation.

The purpose of the seminar is to present the role of national defence systems within the EU CSDP with a special emphasis on the context of budget cuts and general economic and financial hardship. The necessity or relevance of adjustments or restructuring of national defence systems, where applicable within the framework of the CSDP, should be highlighted through redefining the system of responsibility and accountability.

The activity focuses on explaining the meaning and use of the terms responsibility and accountability, raising awareness of the concepts of accountability and responsibility, elaborating horizontal and vertical accountability and the effects of their implementation in the overall defence system output. Additionally, the seminar will provide an overview of the most recent accountability mechanisms implemented in various security sector settings, with an assessment of their weaknesses and strengths and elaborate on the benefits of institutionalisation of accountability within the defence system as well as on what would be some possible outcomes of justifiable public expenditures.

The seminar has gathered more than 30 participants, high-ranking officials from the Defence and Foreign Affairs Ministries, representatives of Parliamentary Defence Committees, as well as representatives of European Defence Agency, Security Governance Group from Canada, Zagreb Economy Institute, Belgrade Centre for Security Policy, Institute for International Relations, Zagreb, Primorska University, Slovenia and the Centre for Peace Studies, Zagreb.

Speaking about the need for and relevance of similar activities, the seminar was opened by RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic and Mr Boris Blazekovic, Head of the Delegation of the Croatian Parliament to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. Both of the speakers emphasized that the exchange of experiences and ideas among the security sector reform actors and experts were very important for the future benefits of institutionalisation of accountability within the defence system, especially in light of the on-going budget cuts, and within the general context of financial constraints faced by EU members and potential members.

14 FEB 2013

MoU between SEESAC and RACVIAC signed

On 14 February 2013 Ambassador Branimir Mandic, Director of RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and Dr. Ivan Zverzhanovski, SEESAC Coordinator signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two centres, continuing the cooperation which started back in 2003. The last MoU between the two organizations was signed in 2008.

The purpose of this MoU is the intention of RACVIAC and SEESAC to co-ordinate their efforts in order to avoid duplication of their activities and to establish effective co-operation in the field of small arms and light weapons, focusing on capacity building, public awareness and promotion of dialogue, regional harmonization of legislation, including arms export legislation in accordance with the EU standards.

Regular consultation and exchange of information on developments in the scope of activities and projects in both centres will certainly optimize the use of resources and provide a forum for regional dialogue and co-operation.

Subsequently, both sides expressed their hope that this mutual effort, meeting the needs and requests of regional countries, would further foster cooperation and dialogue in the SEE.

12 FEB 2013

MAG POC Meeting conducted

With the aim to present a new approach to programme planning and new challenges lying ahead of RACVIAC, in the light of RACVIAC Agreement and ever-greater regional ownership, the MAG Point of Contacts (POCs) Meeting took place on 13 February 2013 in RACVIAC.

The MAG POCs Meeting gathered participants representing relevant ministries from MAG countries, namely Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, France, Hungary, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey, as well as OSCE and SEESAC/UNDP representatives, who readily engaged in discussions.

Opening the Meeting, RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic said that although the new RACVIAC management, assuming its positions last year, faced several challenges in terms of finance, election of MAG chairperson, execution of the Programme, it managed to solve these issues after all. He also pointed out that RACVIAC intends to focus more on further development of Programme in order to better meet the Members’ needs and requests in the future.

During the Meeting, the participants were provided with updates on the 2013 Programme and information on initial results of the Programme Development Group (PDG), with a special focus on projects as a methodology of RACVIAC Programme planning and execution. In addition, participants got an overview of the current financial situation. Special attention was given to the manpower issues, seconded personnel in particular, which seems to be the most important issue at the moment. More than 50 percent of seconded positions that are occupied now will be rotated in the next 12 months, mainly in the faculty part of RACVIAC structure.

After a comprehensive discussion on the ongoing challenges, the Meeting was concluded on a positive note, providing additional impetus to RACVIAC in implementing its strategic goals.

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

06 FEB 2013

Seminar on Border Security conducted

A two-day “Seminar on the Facilitation of Common and Coordinated Measures in the Western Balkan Region”, co-organized by DCAF Ljubljana and RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, has finished today.

This event, aimed at facilitating and upgrading further practical cooperation among South East European countries, brought together police experts and police practitioners from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro, Slovenia and Serbia as well as Italian, Polish, DCAF and FRONTEX EU experts in the area of border security and cross-border police cooperation.

On the first day Mr Anton Travner, Director of DCAF Ljubljana and Head of Border Security Programme, presented developments in the DCAF Border Security Programme. He outlined the 2013 Annual Plan and the report from the DCAF Meeting of the Chiefs of Cabinets and Chiefs of Border Police Services held in December 2012 in Belgrade, Serbia.

His presentation was followed by the evaluation of the results of the Common and Coordinated Measures in 2012, lessons learned, gap analysis and areas that can be improved. In addition to this, a comprehensive discussion was held on future education and training needs and developments, and building mutual trust among the practitioners in the regional security sphere.

The second day of the seminar was operationally oriented and focused on the planning and modus operandi for the preparation and execution of the Common and Coordinated Measures in the Western Balkan region planned in 2013. Under these measures, two Common Operations are going to be executed: one in the period of 14 -20 April 2013, focusing on the Green Border between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, and one from 4 to 22 September 2013 in Slovenia, on the occasion of the EuroBasket Championship.

It is worth mentioning that all countries participating in this event, except for the Republic of Croatia, are signatory states to the Police Cooperation Convention, which provides the legal basis for their mutual cooperation and cross-border operations.

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

06 FEB 2013

Military attaché of Bosnia and Herzegovina visited RACVIAC

Colonel Nikola Zekic, Military Attaché of Bosnia and Herzegovina to Croatia, visited RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation today. This was Col Zekic’s first official visit to the Centre, during which he wanted to make personal acquaintance with RACVIAC’s mission, aims and organization.

The Director of RACVIAC, Ambassador Branimir Mandic, together with the Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop, and the officers from Bosnia and Herzegovina seconded to RACVIAC welcomed the distinguished guest.

Colonel Zekic and his hosts engaged in a very comprehensive discussion on RACVIAC as a new international, regionally owned organization and its role in the overall security environment in South East Europe. While Bosnia and Herzegovina has proved to be a reliable partner to the Centre in terms of finance and secondment of personnel, both sides expressed their strong willingness for the cooperation between Bosnia and Herzegovina and RACVIAC to be even more enhanced in the time to come.

05 FEB 2013

Seminar on Border Security started at RACVIAC

A two-day “Seminar on the Facilitation of Common and Coordinated Measures in the Western Balkan Region” started today in RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.

The seminar is co-organized with the DCAF office in Ljubljana, under the DCAF Border Security Programme, with the aim of facilitating and upgrading further practical cooperation among South East European countries.

In 2012, the DCAF Border Security Programme was transferred from Geneva to the permanent DCAF office in Ljubljana, Slovenia. In addition to some structural and organisational changes, the Programme has been transformed to make it more efficient and result-oriented. It consists of three main components – “EU/Schengen Integration”, “Education and Training”, and “Common and Coordinated Measures in Crime Prevention, Fight against Organised Crime falling within the responsibility of Border Police Forces, and the Fight against Illegal Migration”.

In accordance with the Exchange of Letters between RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and DCAF Ljubljana, signed on 18th December 2012 in Rakitje, Croatia, this mutual project, financed by DCAF, includes four events which will cover main challenges faced by the states in the region in their efforts to deal with the phenomenon of border security, improve capacity building and enhance common and coordinated measures.

The seminar brought together more than twenty regional police experts, police practitioners as well as Slovenian, Italian, Polish, DCAF and FRONTEX EU experts in the area of border security and cross-border police cooperation. They will discuss further measures to improve operational results, future needs and developments in the related education and training, and building mutual trust among the practitioners in the regional security sphere.

Opening the seminar, RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic said that the Centre was aware of the role and importance of international cooperation in creating a positive image of developing effective and efficient police systems as well as border security.

01 FEB 2013

New interns at RACVIAC

In order to provide international working environment for the young people interested in deepening their knowledge on several security issues, RACVIAC signed two internship contracts on 01 February 2013.

Ms Vedrana Djukaric, who obtained her Master’s Degree in political science at the Faculty of Political Science in Zagreb, will be assigned to the Cooperative Security Environment with Focus on Arms Control Pillar, while Ms Mihaela Krsinic, a student of Journalism at the Faculty of Political Science in Zagreb, will be assigned to the PR Cell.

Taking into account RACVIAC's mission and role in the region, we believe that their active participation in RACVIAC’s programme of activities will prove stimulating and useful for persons of their profile, while at the same time, it will be a valuable contribution to the Centre.

29 JAN 2013

RACVIAC Director paid inaugural visit to RCC

On 31 January 2013, RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic, paid an inaugural visit to the Regional Cooperation Council in Sarajevo. Ambassador Mandic was welcomed by the newly appointed Secretary General Mr Goran Svilanovic, who assumed his position on 01 January 2013, following the appointment by the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) Foreign Ministers in Belgrade on 14 June 2012. Mr Svilanovic succeeded Hido Biscevic, the first RCC Secretary General, who held the post in the period of 2008-2012.

During the meeting Ambassador Mandic informed the Secretary General about RACVIAC programme of activities, current issues and challenges as well as some future plans. Ambassador Mandic took this opportunity to assure the RCC Secretary General of his personal readiness to strengthen RACVIAC’s role and capacities while broadening the scope of activities and links with other international and regional organizations, especially with the RCC.

Subsequently, both diplomats expressed their strong readiness to enhance and deepen cooperation between the two organizations, thereby contributing to enhanced dialogue and cooperation on security matters among the countries of Southeast Europe.

21 JAN 2013

RACVIAC Director’s inaugural visit to Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs

RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Branimir Mandic, accompanied by Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop, Deputy Director, paid an inaugural visit to the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia, Ms Vesna Pusic, on 21 January 2013. Ambassador Mandic took this opportunity to inform the Minister about the Centre's transformation into a regionally owned organization, ongoing activities, as well as plans and projects for the future. As the newly appointed Director of RACVIAC, Ambassador Mandic assured the Minister of his personal readiness to strengthen the Centre’s role while broadening the programme of activities and fostering links with other organizations and institutions contributing to the stability and security in the SEE region. He also expressed his appreciation for the continuous support and uninterrupted assistance that the Republic of Croatia, as the host nation, has been providing to RACVIAC. Ms Pusic availed herself of this opportunity to assure RACVIAC of the Ministry’s intention for an ongoing partnership, thereby contributing to enhanced dialogue and cooperation on security matters among the countries of Southeast Europe and supporting their NATO and EU integration processes. The meeting also provided the opportunity to exchange opinions about RACVIAC activities that are taking place in the period of the Croatian chairmanship of MAG.

18 Jan 2013

President of the Republic of Croatia received RACVIAC Director

On 18 January 2013, RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic, accompanied by Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop, Deputy Director, paid an inaugural visit to the President of the Republic of Croatia, Dr Ivo Josipovic. During the meeting Ambassador Mandic informed the President about the current status of RACVIAC as a very specific, regionally owned organization, the ongoing programme of activities and some future plans and challenges. He also conveyed his genuine appreciation for the outstanding and unremitting support of the host nation, the Republic of Croatia, to RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation in the twelve years of its existence. President Josipovic pointed out that RACVIAC has a significant role in fostering dialogue and cooperation on security matters in Southeast Europe. He also reiterated Croatia's continued political and financial support to RACVIAC, not only with the aim to maintain the important role of RACVIAC in the SEE region, but also to raise it to a higher level.

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