News 2014

16 December 2014

Workshop begins on “Regional Cooperation for a Better Response to the Trafficking of Human Beings in SEE”

A workshop on “Regional Cooperation for a Better Response to the Trafficking in Human Beings in SEE” started on December 16th in Ohrid, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*. This event is organized with close cooperation by RACVIAC Centre for Security Cooperation and MARRI the Migration, Asylum, Refugees Regional Initiative and with support of the Ministry of Interior of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*.

Trafficking in persons increasingly constitutes a problem in the countries of South East Europe. Almost every country in the world is affected by trafficking where thousands of persons, mostly women and children, fall into the hands of traffickers. Some reports concerning South East Europe (SEE) show new trends, a decrease in the number of foreign victims and an increase in domestic trafficking. The institutional frameworks to prevent and fight this type of crime exist and national action plans to fight trafficking in persons and irregular migration were adopted in all countries of the SEE region. State authorities provide legal protection, temporary stay permits, medical and psychosocial services and housing & shelter to support victims of trafficking in persons but there is still room for a better response in the prevention and suppression of the trafficking in human beings in the SEE region.

This event aims to increase the cooperation and confidence between the relevant country authorities in the region and emphasize the importance of utilizing effective instruments for a more efficient regional response to these criminal acts through joint activities.

The purpose of the workshop is to analyse the current situation in the area of combating trafficking in human beings, promote regional cooperation in supporting the capacity building of SEE countries, promoting a regional approach as substantial for a better response to trafficking in human beings, and to consider possible common activities.

The main objectives are:

  • To exchange information through the national delegation’s presentations about the current situation, sharing experience and promoting ideas/proposals for further activities in the area of combating trafficking in human beings,
  • To discuss and present new trends and modus operandi in the area of sexual and labour exploitation, successes and failures of national mechanisms, implemented measures and actions,
  • To identify issues for promoting regional project(s) and common actions in the area of THB, where the focus is the prevention,
  • To bring up ideas in enhancement of regional cooperation and formalizing international cooperation as a continuation of already implemented projects (TRM) and updating the outcomes of these projects,
  • To stress the importance of a common strategy related to suppression of human trafficking, providing synergy of the stakeholders in accordance with EU standards.

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

15 December 2014

U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission visits RACVIAC

On Monday December 15th, 2014, U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Ms Margaret Nardi visited the RACVIAC – Centre for security Cooperation in the company of LTC Ryan Fayrweather, the Chief of the Office for Defence Cooperation.

The guests were greeted by RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Branimir Mandić, Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop and RACVIAC staff.

Following a short briefing on the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, Director Mandić informed the guests of events taking place at RACVIAC. He also informed them that in conjunction with RACVIAC's 15th anniversary a new RACVIAC Strategy 2020 would be launched next year. A key aspect of the Strategy 2020 would see each pillar focus on five or six main fields with a project oriented approach to activities.

Director Mandić also invited the USA to change its status of observer member country to that of associate member considering it's support for two activities next year regarding proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Ms Nardi thanked the RACVIAC staff for their welcome and a short discussion was held regarding various aspects of RACVIAC's activities.

Signing the RACVIAC guest book Ms Nardi wrote: "Thank you very much for sharing the vision and future of RACVIAC with me. This is an impressive organization with a bright future and, on behalf of the U.S. Embassy in Zagreb, and the USG, I look forward to working with you".

12 December 2014

RACVIAC Delegation attends UNODC Programme Steering Committee meeting in Vienna, Austria

On invitation by the UNODC, RACVIAC Deputy Director Brig Gen Zdravko Jakop and Planning & Liaison Officer for Western Europe & International Organizations, Col Franz Gaugl attended the 6th meeting of the Programme Steering Committee at the Vienna International Centre on Decmber 9th, 2014.

The organizers appreciated the presence of RACVIAC and dignified inter alia the close cooperation with and the importance of RACVIAC for the SEE region several times. UNODC has started developing a Strategy 2016 – 2019, in which RACVIAC is still expected to remain one of the partners.

During this well-organized and informative meeting the representatives of RACVIAC had the opportunity to introduce the RACVIAC Programme for 2015 with an aim to achieve best possible participation of UNODC. Recalling the MOU between UNODC and RACVIAC, it was agreed that cooperation can be intensified.

The main areas of interest in the RACVIAC Programme for 2015 by UNODC are currently “UNHCR 1540” and “Fighting Corruption and Building Integrity”. Willingness for cooperation in these areas of interest is strengthened by the principle of avoiding duplication. RACVIAC is looking forward to continuing the work with the UNODC as one of our important partners.

11 December 2014

Conference on New Security Challenges in South East Europe Begins at RACVIAC

A conference organized by the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, in cooperation with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Office in Croatia, and the Alumni Association of the George C. Marshall Center, Croatia began on Thursday December 11th, 2014 at RACVIAC.

The conference, titled New Security Challenges in South East Europe, is a continuation of a joint Conference on the “European Union External Border Regime” held last year as RACVIAC’s first activity to be developed in cooperation with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Office in Croatia, and the Alumni Association of the George C. Marshall Center, Croatia.

The purpose of this joint event is to continue addressing the transformation processes in South Eastern Europe (SEE) in the view of EU and NATO membership responsibilities and readiness in the area of security. The Conference is aimed at bringing together representatives from the SEE countries whose international position is shifting following Croatian entry into the EU in terms of becoming front-line countries bordering with the EU area.

In his opening address, RACVIAC Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop, welcomed several of the distinguished guests present including H.E. Ambassador Emanuala D'Alessandro, the Ambassador of the Italian Republic to the Republic of Croatia; H.E. Ambassador Hans Peter Annen, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Republic of Croatia; Mr Michael A. Lange, PhD, head of the KAS Office in Croatia; Mr Smiljan Čubelić, President of the Alumni Association of the George C. Marshall Centre, Croatia; BrigGen (ret.) Klaus Wittmann, PhD, Senior Fellow at the Aspen Institute, DE and former Director of the NATO Defence College Rome as well as Dr. Tomo Radičević, the Head of the Defence Policy and Planning Department at the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia.

The event opened with several keynote speeches in which varying security challenges facing South East Europe were underlined as well as efforts to implement confidence and security building measure.

Over the next two days participants will hear lectures and presentations during five panel discussion titled: New Security Challenges in Europe; Energy Security in South-Eastern Europe; The Migration Challenge for the European Union; Financial Crisis and Military Capabilities; and Towards Schengen.

27 November 2014

RACVIAC Delegation visits MK Ministry of Defence

On Tuesday, November 25th 2014, a RACVIAC delegation headed by Director Ambassador Branimir Mandić met in Skopje with the MK Minister of Defence, Mr Zoran Jolevski, PhD and the representatives of the MK Ministry of Defence. Minister Jolevski expressed his appreciation and support for RACVIAC work stating that only through cooperation the Region will be able to move forward. He emphasized that it is important to unblock the processes that impede some countries of the Region to move forward so that the whole region can achieve greater development without unnecessary obstacles or obstructions.

RACVIAC Director Ambassador Mandić informed his counterparts about the RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation's Programme of activities and explained what the new components of development within RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation are. In addition, he expressed his thanks for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's* active contribution and its dedication to the projects related to building of integrity and the fight against corruption and those within the framework of the RACVIAC project related to cyber security. He cited the excellent cooperation that RACVIAC has so far had with the Military Academy in Skopje.

Apart from military activities, RACVIAC is currently oriented to the civil sector as well. This means that RACVIAC has gained greater dynamism in its work that has garnered strong support of its member countries. This meeting was a good opportunity to discuss the topical issues and other technical details related to the current and future cooperation as well.

Minister Jolevski once again announced that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* will continue to fully support RACVIAC work and overall development.

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

25 November 2014

Regional Conference „Trends and Challenges in Implementing Anti-Corruption Strategies” held in Skopje, MK

Identifying the states’ priorities and needs in terms of efficient implementation of anti-corruption Strategies and Action Plans, with potential emphasis on the monitoring mechanisms, was the focus of a Regional conference that successfully drew to a close in Skopje on 25th November. The conference was organized in cooperation between RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation, the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) and the Ministry of Justice of The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*.

The conference gathered anti-corruption practitioners from the Ministries of Justice and Anti-corruption Agencies dealing with the drafting, implementation and monitoring of Anti-corruption Strategies and Action Plans in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Republic of Croatia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro, Moldova, Republic of Serbia, Romania and Turkey, as well as the representatives of the govermental and non-govememntal institutions and organisations engaged in anti-corruption activities.

„Our expectations for further successes in the fight against corruption are based solely on our commitment to invest efforts in maintaining and comparing the anti-corruption policy and overcoming this devastating phenomenon“, said Adnan Jashari, Minister of Justice of MK. Minister Jashari thanked RACVIAC and RAI for the actions taken to promote regional cooperation to support the implementation of anti-corruption events and activities in the member countries, as well as for organizing this event in MK.

Ambassador Branimir Mandić, Director of RACVIAC, said: „Being confident that through cooperation and synergy in action we can do more for our countries and beyond, RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation has raised this partnership to a prominent level, the result of which is the today's Regional Conference. We believe in multi-stakeholder cooperation, in cooperation between the countries, civil society and businesses. It's one of the preconditions in the promotion of successful policies and mechanisms in all aspects, including the fight against corruption.“

IMr. Gjorgji Slamkov, President of the State Commission for prevention of Corruption in MK emphasized that the fight against corruption should be constant and permanent, directed towards eliminating the causes that generate it, quick in disclosing its emergent forms, with more effective treatment of its sanctioning institutions in order to close the valve through which the vital values of the social system are being threatened. Mr. Davor Dubravica, Chairman of the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative stressed the importance of the implementation of the strategic documents: „On the one hand there is the process of strategic planning and on the other hand the process of implementation. Both of these components must be strongly related and adapted to each other. Even the best strategy without an efficient implementation is not a story we need.“

During the conference, the following recommendations and conclusions were made:

  • Existence of political will is an important precondition for the implementation of a National Anti-Corruption Strategy. By political will participants understand the recurring cycle of monitoring - evaluation – action, i.e. a sustained effort for progress on an informed anti-corruption agenda;
  • by sharing their national practices, participants concluded that there is room for improvement of the existing monitoring and evaluation mechanisms and the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) has committed itself to develop a tool which will help countries to do so;
  • besides its importance as an external monitoring mechanism the civil society should be given a role within the monitoring commissions. Regional initiatives, such as the South East Leadership for Development and Integrity, should be considered when it comes to involvement as a partner in this process;
  • progress and evaluation reports should be publicly available;
  • countries should consider moving towards non-paper based reporting, which should also ensure higher transparency and publicity of the process;
  • political accountability should serve as a control mechanism for deficient implementation of the anti-corruption strategy.

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

25 November 2014

The Proliferation Pathways course

The Proliferation Pathways course took place in RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation between 17th and 21st November. The course was organized by the Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and supported by RACVIAC.

The purpose of the course was to assemble regional officials and professionals from different agencies related to counterproliferation which perform functions such as customs, internal affairs and those related to the military forces. More than 40 participants were engaged in discussions and group exercises. The latter gave the participants an opportunity to demonstrate the ways in which their agencies deal with proliferation and cooperate on a regional level.

The main objectives of this event were to: provide new insights into the concept of proliferation; give participants a full understanding of the extent and complexity of global arms proliferation; explore ways in which proliferation is achieved by states and non-state actors and evaluate the key differences between the two; provide examples of how to discover proliferation operations; indicate red flags that lead to individuals who deal with proliferation; examine case studies that lead to better understanding of the mechanics of modern proliferation; stress the importance of regional cooperation in counterproliferation activities.

In his opening address RACVIAC Director Branimir Mandić emphasized the importance of regional cooperation in counterproliferation activities and the common effort to develop a full understanding of the complexity of proliferation. He also noted advancements on the regional level by mentioning national laws and regulations that recently came into force. Finally, the Director reaffirmed RACVIAC as a future platform for proliferation issues: „Since the topic of the course remains more current than ever, I hope that this could be the first in a series of similar events. RACVIAC stands ready to be a platform for its member states and a possible regional promoter of the questions related to the WMD, as it does now with one of its flagship events, UNSCR 1540.“

19 November 2014

New Turkish Ambassador to Croatia visits RACVIAC

H.E. Mr Ahmet Tuta, the Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to the Republic of Croatia, made an inaugural visit to the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Wednesday November 19th, 2014.

Welcoming Ambassador Tuta, RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandić, pointed out the good cooperation RACVIAC has with the Republic of Turkey in terms their support for the Centre through personnel, contributions and involvement in activities. Furthermore he expressed thanks to the Turkish government for ratifying the agreement on RACVIAC noting that it is a good sign and basis encouraging cooperation in the region.

Following a briefing on the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, programme managers and planning and liaison officers informed the ambassador of coming activities at the Centre, projects within their respective pillars and issues they address.

Director Mandić pointed out that next year RACVIAC will be celebrating its 15th anniversary and in conjunction with ceremonies the new RACVIAC Strategy 2020 will be presented. The Strategy is in line with other political processes in the region and is mainly project oriented, in order to provide a better approach to activities and provide follow up on issues addressed. He underlined that the Strategy will avoid duplications with similar initiatives by other organizations while at the same time fulfilling the needs of member countries.

Furthermore Director Mandić pointed out support RACVIAC has from other international organizations noting that ten MOUs have been signed which help to avoid duplication and reach a new synergy. In terms of visibility, Director Mandić pointed out that RACVIAC organizes and ambassadorial meeting each year and that guests have included Croatian President Ivo Josipović and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Vesna Pusić.

Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop informed the Turkish Ambassador of challenges the Centre is facing in terms of personnel. Noting that the possibility to receive volunteers and interns has proven to be a valuable asset.

The meeting ended with an exchange of gifts and H.E. Mr Ahmet Tuta signed the RACVIAC guest book, followed by coffee in the office of Director Mandić.

18 November 2014

Meeting held at RACVIAC regarding development of WMD network

On November 18th 2014, on the margins of the Proliferation Pathways course that is being held at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation (17-21 November), a meeting was held regarding the WMD Network under development at RACVIAC.

RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandić and Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop met with LtCol Lonnie Carlson (EUCOM) , LtCol Ryan Fayrweather (Chief of the Office for Defence Cooperation at the US Embassy in Zagreb) ,Ms Ivana Barbara Blazevic (Croatian MOD) and RACVIAC staff.

During the meeting participants discussed the future of the WMD Network that is currently under development at RACVIAC. Preparations for the establishment of the network are in the final phase while future developments were presented. The intention is to promote the WMD Network through three RACVIAC activities in 2015.

LtCol Faryweather stated that the US Embassy would like to promote such regional projects and events that deal with important topics such as proliferation of WMD, underlining they they intend to provide full support to the project.

In conclusion it was evident that there was a consensus regarding the benefit of the project for the entire region.

17 November 2014

Military Diplomatic Corps Accredited to Croatia visits RACVIAC

The Military Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Republic of Croatia, headed by their Dean Brigadier General Roman Fischer (AT), visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Monday November 17th, 2014.

RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandić and Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop welcomed the guests.

Brigadier General Fischer thanked the RAVIAC management and staff for welcoming their visit. He noted that they initiated the visit in order to gain an insight into activities at the Centre where they could perhaps take part.

Following a short briefing on the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, Director Mandić informed the visitors of events taking place at the Centre. He noted that next year RACVIAC will be celebrating its 15th anniversary and the opportunity will be used to launch the new RACVIAC Strategy 2020. He added that the Strategy will change the basis for planning activities in RACVIAC, shifting to a project oriented approach that looks between 3 and 6 years forward. Director Mandić also said that projects will be developed in cooperation with members and partners forming a network of cooperation. Each pillar within the Centre will be focusing on approximately 5 projects.

In other developments, Director Mandić noted that RACVIAC has a programme that has been recognized in the region and beyond, something reflected in its stable budget. He added that RACVIAC continues to foster communication as participants from the region and beyond take part in activities.

A discussion followed where representatives from each of RACVIAC's pillars presented their part of the programme, while Planning and Liaison Officers explained their work and the work of the Programme Development Group.

The meeting ended with a presentation of a RACVIAC plaque by Director Mandić to Brigadier General Fischer, followed by coffee and informal discussions.

11 November 2014

Kosovo* Ambassador to Croatia visits RACVIAC

H.E. Shkendije Geci Sherifi the Kosovo* Ambassador to Croatia and Mr. Asdren Gashi, a counsellor at the embassy, visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Monday November 10th 2014.

RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandić and Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop, welcomed the Kosovo* delegation beginning with an introduction of the RACVIAC staff present and a short briefing on the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.

Following the briefing Director Mandić informed the delegation of current events taking place in the work of RACVIAC. He noted that next year RACVIAC will be celebrating its 15th anniversary at which the new Strategy 2020 will be launched. The strategy foresees a shift from a 3 year planning period to longer term planning that is project oriented. It will define the main areas of focus for RACVIAC activities with 5 or 6 projects that have already begun under each pillar.

Director Mandić noted that participation by partners demonstrates that RACVIAC is on the right path, something that is reflected in the stable budget. He also noted that at a recent meeting of the OSCE it was said that they consider RACVIAC to be their extended hand in the region. Ambassador Mandić also underlined strengthening cooperation with both the EU and NATO.

The Director pointed out that RACVIAC has been recognized in the region as a platform for security dialogue, something that was reflected in the fact that over 230 people took part in two recent events that were organized in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, while over 22 media houses covered the events.

The floor was then given to Programme Managers and planning and Liaison Officers who elaborated on the work they do within the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.

Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop, informed the guests of the personnel situation within RACVIAC pointing out that the Centre also supports a number of volunteers and interns who have come to gain experience.

H.E Shkendije Geci Sherifi, thanked the hosts for welcoming her noting that she is a PhD candidate in the field of Security Sector Reform and is quite familiar with the field. She thanked all countries that supported the participation of Kosovo* in the work of RACVIAC and the MAG noting that for their part they are ready to participate fully in all activities under all pillars.

Following the meeting Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop escorted the delegation for a tour of the RACVIAC facilities.

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence. (In accordance with Arrangements regarding regional representation and cooperation.)

10 November 2014

In the wake of the floods: Strategic preparation, co-ordination needed at national and regional levels, SEE conference concludes (Article courtesy of OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina)

SARAJEVO, 7 November 2014 – Sharing information and solutions to reduce flood risk, and enhancing cross-border cooperation in mitigating risk and flood protection was the focus of a two-day regional conference that concluded in Sarajevo yesterday. The conference was organized by the Security Ministry of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the OSCE Mission to BiH, the UNDP Office in BiH and the RACVIAC-Centre for Security Co-operation.

The conference gathered civil protection professionals, water management experts and decision-makers from Albania, BiH, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Serbia as well as authorities from some flood-affected communities in BiH, and professional OSCE staff working throughout the region.

“The Conference served as an impetus for new initiatives and joint projects, and as a forum to discuss and exchange views on disaster risk reduction,” said Samir Agic, BiH Assistant Security Minister. Agic thanked local and international partners for their assistance provided during the floods and in the recovery process.

Ambassador Jonathan Moore, Head of the OSCE Mission to BiH, said: “The OSCE recognizes the important role that the environment plays in security. Our organization has therefore made planning for co-ordinated management of natural and man-made catastrophes a commitment for all its participating States. This means States must develop national policies that will reduce potential risks from disasters and allow them to respond in a way that will minimize damage.”

Director of RACVIAC Ambassador Branimir Mandic said close co-operation and co-ordination in the region was necessary for both, prevention of and a successful response to natural disasters and climate change. “This is a prerequisite for the timely protection of people and their livelihoods.”

Amela Cosovic-Medic, UNDP Justice and Security Sector Co-ordinator, said: "The recent floods have created momentum to build and improve on all aspects of the disaster management system in BiH including prevention, response and recovery and measures to increase resilience. It is estimated that every dollar spent on preparing for disasters saves approximately seven dollars in economic losses. Building of stable, resilient communities is a task for all - co-ordinated efforts amongst relevant national institutions, the international community and partners across the region are of vital importance."

Click here for original article.

Media coverage of the event: 1 2.

05 November 2014

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Mr Greg Delawie visits RACVIAC on margins of Arms Control Symposium.

Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop (left), Mr Greg Delawie (middle), Mr Aaron Schwoebel right) U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Mr. Greg Delawie and Mr Aaron Schwoebel, Political Unit Chief at the U.S. Embassy to Croatia visited RACVIAC on the margins of the Arms Control Symposium on Wednesday November 5th, 2014.

RACVIAC Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop, welcomed Mr Delawie and Mr Swhoebel thanking them for showing an interest in the work of RACVIAC.

Following a short introduction to the staff present at the meeting, a presentation on the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation was given by Public Affairs Office Capt. Branko Lozancic. Following the presentation programme managers provided the U.S delegation with information regarding the programmes of their respective pillars for 2015.

Programme Manager for Security Sector Reform, Mr Branko Kromar, provided information on projects regarding parliamentary oversight, human rights protection, defence resource management and border security. Lt Col Muharrem Gulcan informed the American delegation of activities planned for 2015 that include the Open Skies Ariel Observation course, the Chemical Weapons Convention seminar, a mine action symposium, the Dayton Article IV course and the project for a WMD network to be established in RACVIAC.

Planing and Liaison Officer for South East Europe, Ms Ivis Nocka elaborated on her work in coordination and assistance to Programme Manager, coordinating with international organizations and work within the Program Development Group.

Mr Delawie thanked the RACVIAC staff for the briefing after which he attended the Arms Control Symposium as a keynote speaker.

05 November 2014

Arms Control Symposium held at RACVIAC

An Arms Controls Symposium began at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Wednesday November the 5th, 2014. The Symposium is being organized with the cooperation of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The purpose of this event is to build on the experience of last year's symposium and to present the latest developments in arms control, with the aim to open up new perspectives on confidence-building measures for peace and stability in Europe. The symposium will serve as a platform for discussions on the fundamental role of arms control treaties as a cornerstone of European and SEE security. An important element of its overall aim is the updating of any relevant information regarding arms control issues.

The objectives of the symposium are to examine: the objectives and instruments of a modern, stability orientated pan-European arms control regime; 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 in Europe; new Arms Control Requirements from a military perspective and future arms control and modern force capabilities.

In his opening address, RACVIAC Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop emphasized that RACVIAC is very proud to be able to provide the platform for constructive dialogue and close cooperation. „As we have repeatedly stated, a regional approach to security issues is a crucial prerequisite for peace and stability in the region and beyond. I am confident that we all share the opinion that lasting security can only be achieved through cooperation and partnership between countries, since we cannot cope with all current and emerging security challenges alone. In that regard, I believe that this Symposium will bring us at least one step closer to this common goal. It will also serve as an excellent tool for increasing cooperation, openness and transparency amongst our countries“, said General Jakop.

Speaking as a special guest at the opening Japanese Ambassador to Croatia, H.E. Keiji Ide, who also attended the symposium, noted the similar issues in the Asia-Pacific region underlining similar efforts and his willingness to share views. Ambassador Ide generously offered possible Japanese assistance suggesting that he could bring people from Japan as speakers.

04 November 2014

Albanian Ambassador to Croatia Pays Introductory Visit to RACVIAC

Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop (left), Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic (middle), H.E. Ilir Melo Albanian Ambassador to Croatia (right) On Monday November 3rd, 2014, H.E. Ilir Melo, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Albania to the Republic of Croatia visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.

Welcoming Ambassador Melo, RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Branimir Mandic, said that it was good to welcome a person that has been a friend of RACVIAC for so long.

Following an introduction of RACVIAC staff, Director Mandic informed the Albanian ambassador of the current state of affairs in RACVIAC noting that next year the Centre will be celebrating its 15th anniversary at which the new Strategy 2020 will be presented, describing it as a concise and workable document. Noting that RACVIAC is implementing a project oriented approach to activities, Director Mandic said that each pillar within the Centre will have around 5 projects each while at the same time leaving room for other topics. He also informed our guest of the initiative to form a regional WMD network within RACVIAC.

Touching upon the issue of personnel Director Mandic noted that it is an area that is lacking, adding that volunteers are a temporary solution but that he also hopes countries in the region will find a solution for seconding more personnel to the Centre.

Ambassador Melo then addressed the meeting noting that he was happy to be considered a friend of RACVIAC. He said that Albania attaches great importance to the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, has supported it from the very beginning and will continue to do so. He noted that it is not usually easy to survive as a regional entity and that he is glad to see RACVIAC as a stable organization. Commenting the Strategy 2020 Ambassador Melo said that it was good to see a vision for the future. Addressing the problem of personnel he suggested that Albania may be ready to propose a volunteer to work at the Centre.

Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop then took the floor noting that RACVIAC has had over eleven thousand participants at their activities and that they now come from several state agencies within the member countries including the parliamentary dimension, a something that is very important when discussing security building measures and defence.

The floor was then given to programme managers who elaborated upon the activities of their respective pillars and plans for the future.

In conclusion Ambassador Melo underlined the importance of all-inclusiveness in the region and said that, following the MAG decision to include Kosovo* in the work of RACVIAC, he is looking forward to seeing their participation.

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence. (In accordance with Arrangements regarding regional representation and cooperation.)

30 October 2014

Conference on Ensuring Personal Data Protection While Securing Cyber Space gets underway in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

A conference titled Ensuring Personal Data Protection While Securing Cyber Space began in Sarajevo Bosnia Herzegovina on Wednesday October 29th 2014. The conference is being organized by the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation; the Military Academy "General Mihailo Apostolski"-Skopje; the Ministry of Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina; the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the American University in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The technological development of social networks, smart cards, cloud computing and location based services has brought forth new challenges in view of personal data protection. Disclosing personal data is increasingly becoming a part of modern life and people feel that they give away too much data and that they are not in control of their data. Differences in the way that each country implements the law of personal data protection have led to uneven protection depending on where an individual lives or buys goods and uses different services.

Having in mind the need for cooperation between the SEE countries, the aims of this event include exchange of information, transfer of knowledge, views and ideas as well as dissemination of international standards regarding data protection. Furthermore, this event aims to identify the key actors and their priorities regarding who, when and where in SEE countries is responsible for actions needed to organize and conduct effective personal data protection while building a secure cyberspace through prevention and deterring, detection and monitoring, constraint and isolating, maintaining, recovering and adaptation, in order to protect the governments and partner nations critical infrastructure and civilian population.

Over the course of the conference participants will work to facilitate understanding of why ensuring personal data protection constitutes a crucial element in South East European governments efforts to secure cyberspace; to stimulate debate in order to provide smart and creative approaches in ensuring better personal data protection and share best practices that will improve the regional South East European efforts in this context; to identify academics, pundits and professionals ready to cooperate and contribute to future efforts to provide effective cyber security and cyber defence throughout the South East European region; to conduct a practical exercise in the form of a case study that will present the participants with an opportunity to demonstrate solutions in the form of responses in the national legislatures and practical circumstances related to this topic.

28 October 2014

Meeting of DCAF Course Alumni under the Auspices of the DCAF Border Security Programme gets underway at RACVIAC

A meeting of DCAF course alumni under the Auspices of the DCAF Border Security Programme began at the RACVIAC Centre for Security Cooperation on Tuesday October 28th, 2014. The meeting is bringing together the alumni from the Western Balkan countries, Croatia and Slovenia, who have concluded either the 1st or the 2nd generation of the DCAF International Training Course for Regional Commanders (ITCRC) between 2005–2011. It represents a timely effort to assess the added value of border police education and training for regional border policing as well as future prospects to utilise the gained knowledge and competences, in line with the strategic guidelines of the relevant regional programmes in the area of border security.

In his opening address RACVIAC Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop said that it was a great privilege to welcome the participants pointing out that the DCAF border Security Programme, financed by the DCAF Office Ljubljana has been contributing to the South East European region through the provision of education and training events in the area of border security and management since 2005. He also noted that this contribution has became even more significant due to a recognition of priorities regarding the strengthening of capacity-building and EU integration processes in South Eastern Europe. He said that RACVIAC and DCAF Ljubljana both recognized the importance of the regional approach and cooperation in this highly specific area, where the countries of South Eastern Europe should together identify current and future challenges concerning this important element of national, regional and global security.

General Jakop expressed his great appreciation for DCAF being in RACVIAC adding that he believed the mutual cooperation will develop into a long lasting partnership.

Ms Jelka Klemenc the DCAF Ljubljana Coordinator of the Border Security Programme, thanked RACVIAC for hosting the event underlining the constructive partnership between the two organizations. Ms Klemenc pointed out the synergy between the police and armed forces in terms of internal and border security, noting that the DCAF Border Security Programme focuses in this synergy. In conclusion she warmly welcomed all the participants stressing that she was happy to bring alumni together to gain feedback in order to improve their activities.

Over the next two days participants will conduct discussion assessing the ITCRC Course and discuss novelties in regional and European border policing and border police training.

23 October 2014

Security Sector Reform and Gender Conference begins at RACVIAC

A security sector reform and gender conference titled: „Equal Opportunities: Implementation of UNSCR 1325 and related UNSCRs – Differences between Proclamation and Reality“ began at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on October 22nd. The conference is being organized in cooperation with the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees - Agency for Gender Equality of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The purpose of this conference is to develop a framework for monitoring and evaluation of the progress made to implement UNSCRs 1325, 1820, 1888, 1889, 1960 and 2112 in the countries participating in RACVIAC. The framework for monitoring and evaluation will be based on the impact, output and outcome indicators which will be prepared and discussed by the participants during the Conference.

The main objectives of this Conference are: to identify gaps in the design, implementation and monitoring of National Action Plans and the contribution to the expected results of UNSCR 1325 and related UNSCRs in the countries of the region; to build consensus over the current status of the implementation of UNSCR policies and how they can be supported through a Regional framework; to enhance a comprehensive, consultative and action-oriented review which will include a dialogue with the relevant stakeholders, civil society organizations, women’s initiatives and vulnerable and disadvantaged groups; to establish and validate a Regional framework for monitoring and evaluation of the progress made in the implementation of UNSCRs 1325, 1820, 1888, 1889, 1960 and 2122 by the governments in the region.

In his opening address RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic noted that this was the fourth RACVIAC programme activity dealing with this highly specific topic underlining the Centre's determination to continue supporting the implementation process of what has been identified as a landmark UN resolution on women, peace and security. He added that the primary intention is to make a step forward from the three previous engagements and to initiate the establishment of a tentative framework for monitoring and evaluation of regional progress made to implement subject resolutions, establishing a common benchmark that will be based on measurable indicators, which should be discussed and identified during the conference.

21 October 2014

RACVIAC Signs Memorandum of Understanding with Institute for Corporative Security Studies from the Republic of Slovenia.

RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandić and ICS Council President, Mr Denis Čaleta PhD, Assist. Prof. sign a memorandum of understanding A delegation from the Institute for Corporative Security Studies in Ljubljana Slovenia visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Tuesday October 21st. The delegation consisted of Mr Denis Čaleta, PhD, Assist. Prof – President of the Council; Mr Miran Vršec PhD, Assist. Prof. Vice President of the Council and Mr Mr Aljoša Kandžič MSc, Director of the ICS. Upon the arrival the delegation had an office call with RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandić, followed by a broader meeting including RACVIAC staff.

Welcoming the guests RACVIAC Director Mandić emphasized the good cooperation between the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and the ICS, expressing his desire to build on it even further.

ICS Council President, Mr Denis Čaleta stressed the long term cooperation between the two organizations noting that RACVIAC participants were very active at their activities and vice-versa. He added that a memorandum of understanding will provide a good platform for further cooperation.

Following initial introduction the ICS delegation was given a briefing on the RACVIAC – Centre for Security cooperation which was followed by a discussion on current events taking place at the Centre. It was noted that RACVIAC, as an academic organization, has the possibility of receiving volunteers and interns interested in advancing their knowledge on security related issues.

Mr Čaleta pointed out several fields of possible cooperation between the two organizations including: critical infrastructure protection, cyber threats and countering terrorism. He suggested the possibility to mutually organize conferences on processes of radicalization that could have an influence in the region, noting that the ICS could support RACVIAC with experts in these fields and other.

A memorandum of understanding between the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and the Institute for Corporative Security Studies was then signed by RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandić and ICS Council President, Mr Denis Čaleta PhD, Assist. Prof.

A brief discussion was then held with programme managers on projects underway in their respective pillars followed by a tour of the RACVIAC facilities and a lunch hosted by RACVIAC Director Mandić.

21 October 2014

RACVIAC Delegation Attends Comprehensive Regional Ministerial Meeting in Budva, Montenegro

A RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation delegation participated from 14 to 17 October 2014 in a Comprehensive regional ministerial meeting of the political directors of the Western Balkan States (WBDPD), a meeting of defence ministers of the US-Adriatic Charter (A-5) and a meeting of defence ministers of South-Eastern Europe (SEDM), held in Budva, Montenegro, which gathered around 130 participants from 18 countries.

This comprehensive regional ministerial meeting provided a unique opportunity for open discussion on reduction of unnecessary duplication, facilitating coherence, streamlining of structures and improvement of working methods. In this way, joint efforts are being pooled more efficiently in order to strengthen regional cooperation.

A strong interest was shown for improvement of concrete forms of cooperation following a presentation by RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandić, in which RACVIAC was identified as a partner of the A-5 Initative in view of the realization of the Centre’s projects primarily related to the fight against corruption within the framework of building integrity, cooperation between the parliamentary committees for security and defence, search and rescue as part of the Civil Emergency Response within the A-5 Initiative and the project directed towards defence system reform.

Deputy Assistant of the NATO Secretary General for Defence Policy and Planning Mr. Jonathan Parish strongly supported the RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation in these areas as well as in regards to future development of projects in the area of cyber security and cooperation of the Parliamentary Committees for Security and Defence of South-Eastern Europe. He demonstrated his willingness that the correct implementation of the forthcoming steps to create closer cooperation be discussed with a RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation delegation during an official visit to NATO in Brussels.

On the margins of the Comprehensive regional ministerial meeting, official meetings also took place between the RACVIAC delegation and the Defence Minister of The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Mr Zoran Jolevski; the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Albania, Ms Mimi Kodheli; the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Slovenia, Mr Janko Veber; the Minister of Defence of Montenegro, Professor Milica Pejanović-Đurišić and the Deputy Assistant of the NATO Secretary General for Defence Policy and Planning Mr Jonathan Parish.

Professor Milica Pejanović-Đurišić, the Minister of Defence of Montenegro Professor Milica Pejanović-Đurišić, the Minister of Defence of Montenegro emphasized the importance of the presence of the RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation in the comprehensive regional ministerial meeting SEEC, SEDM and A-5, emphasizing the importance of participation of an international organization which, with its program of activities, sublimates the joint efforts of the countries to improve cooperation in the region. In this regard, she informed the participants about the determination of Montenegro to join in the RACVIAC project related to building integrity and to host a conference in the part that relates to the field of fighting corruption in 2015.

In accordance with the above mentioned, RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandić informed the participants about the interest of RACVIAC to actively participate in all regional formats in order to more adequately look into the needs of those countries and their implementation of further courses of action and development of its program. In this respect, he expressed his gratitude for Montenegro’s active contribution to the RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation.

Ms. Mimi Kodheli, Minister Of Defence of Albania During the meeting, the Minister of Defence of Albania, Ms. Mimi Kodheli, emphasized the importance of the role of the RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation when it comes to the improvement of cooperation in the region.

In addition to the above stated, Director Mandic noted that the Republic of Albania could gain greater visibility in the framework of regional cooperation and in this regard he underlined that Albania announced at the 32nd MAG meeting that it will be the host of an activity in the field of search and rescue during 2015. Furthermore, Director Mandic asked the Republic of Albania to consider the possibility for another regional post NATO Wales Summit activity. Noting that Albania holds the A5 chairmanship until the end of the year, Director Mandic also asked the Albanian delegation to consider RACVIAC cooperation in the field of these activities. Ms Kodheli said that Albania would take into consideration the proposals put forth by Director Mandic.

During the meeting, RACVIAC Director Ambassador Mandić briefed his counterpart about new developments in the RACVIAC Programme of activities and thanked the Republic of Albania for its active contribution to the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.

During the meeting with the Defence Minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Mr. Zoran Jolevski, RACVIAC Director Ambassador Mandić informed him about the RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation's Programme of activities and explained what the new components of development within the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation are. In addition, he expressed his thanks for the active contribution the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* has been making and its dedication to the projects relating to building of integrity and the fight against corruption as well as in the framework of the RACVIAC project relating to cyber security.

In this sense, Mr Jolevski provided open and strong support to RACVIAC activities relating to the building of integrity and the fight against corruption as well as cyber security. He also expressed support for the upcoming signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Military Academy of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* and the RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation that is based on expert support in the area of projects on cyber security and announced that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* will continue to support the Centre’s work and overall development.

In view of the aforementioned, he invited the delegation of the RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation for an official visit to the Ministry of Defence of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* during the execution of the activity "Building Integrity and Fight against Corruption," which is planned to be held in Skopje, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, from 23 to 26 November 2014.

Minister of Defence of the Republic of Slovenia Mr Janko Veber During the meeting with the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Slovenia Mr Janko Veber RACVIAC Director Ambassador Mandić informed him about the current conditions and future directions of development of RACVIAC. In this regard, he stressed the importance of the Republic of Slovenia’s active presence as an associated member of the RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation.

In the context of the above mentioned, the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Slovenia, Mr. Janko Veber expressed the Republic of Slovenia’s firm resolve to actively participate in the process of promoting regional cooperation and pledged continued financial support, further organization of activities on its territory and the presence of its representative in the Centre as a sign of its firm support for the Centre’s Programme of activities. Furthermore, he invited a RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation delegation for an official visit to the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Slovenia in December 2014.

At the end of the Comprehensive regional ministerial meeting of political directors of the Western Balkan States (WBDPD), the meeting of defence ministers of the US-Adriatic Charter (A-5) and the meeting of defence ministers of South-Eastern Europe (SEDM) the commitment to continued promotion of policy of regional cooperation was stressed. The ministers agreed to continue developing and enhancing good neighbourly relations, mutual trust, contributing thus to stability and prosperity in South-Eastern Europe. They agreed to explore new, and further enhance the existing, modalities of cooperation in the field of defence, in accordance with Euro-Atlantic initiatives and processes, as it is the only way to ensure sustainability of peace, stability and prosperity.

In the part that concerns defence cooperation and how to make it more concrete and provide a common response to global security challenges, the opportunities for joint participation in international missions and operations were initiated as well as joint responses to natural disasters and accidents. Furthermore, in order to improve the capabilities of the armed forces, the importance of using existing regional training centers in different areas of defence and security was also pointed out.

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

14 October 2014

Vienna Document 2011– Efforts to Revitalise Confidence and Security Building - Verification and Compliance Course Begins in RACVIAC

The Vienna Document 2011– Efforts to Revitalise Confidence and Security Building - Verification and Compliance Course began at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation today and will run through to Thursday October 16th.

The aim of the course, being held in cooperation with the Bundeswehr Verification Centre of the Federal Republic of Germany, is to introduce participants to the new content of the Vienna Document 2011 in general, with a special focus on Article IX (Compliance and Verification), Inspection and Evaluation, giving a comprehensive, theoretical and practical analysis of the implementation of these activities. It will be organized in the spirit of the Vienna Document 2011, focusing on constraints and obligations arising from the aforementioned parts of document.

In his opening address RACVIAC Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop noted that the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation has been organizing Vienna Document courses for the countries of the South East European region since 2001. This year RACVIAC is able to respond again to the challenges of being the first in the region to plan and carry out the Vienna Document 2011 (VD’11) Compliance and Verification Course, reflecting the changes of the New Vienna Document 2011 adopted in December 2011. He added that the respected lecturers invited from national arms control agencies, international organisations or verification centres, as well as the academic world of Croatia, Hungary, Germany, Slovenia, the United States have a wide range of experiences in this field. Their sound knowledge and experience are a guarantee of quality and success of the Course. Furthermore he expressed special thanks to Slovenia for being the host of the practical part of the course.

The course began with an introductory presentation by Commander Michael Runde (DEU Navy) who briefed participants with an Overview of Vienna Document 11: (historical background, previous agreements, the need to make regular updates, etc.).

Over the course of the next three days participants will be briefed on various aspects of the Vienna Document 2011 and prepare and conduct a practical exercise at the 15. Aviation Regiment in Slovenia.

13 October 2014

32nd Financial and Multinational Advisory Group meetings held in RACVIAC

The Autumn financial meeting and the meeting of RACVIAC's Multinational Advisory Group (MAG) were held in RACVIAC from October 9-10, 2014.

On the first day representatives of MAG member countries and associate members met to discuss realization of the RACVIAC budget for 2014, and discuss projections for the future. The head of RACVIAC's Administration and Finance Cell, Capt. Vlatka Jakupec, provided members with an overview of budget realization for 2014, a draft budget proposal for 2015 and budget projections for 2016-2017.

On the second day, the MAG meeting was held under the chairmanship of Major General Milan Mojsilovic, the Military Representative of the Republic of Serbia to NATO and the EU.

During the meeting members were presented with Director Branimir Mandic's Interim Report for 2014, covering the most significant moments in RACVIAC work until September 2014, such as successful conduct of the planned Programme to date. The Director underlined increased cooperation with other international organizations and regional initiatives, visible through nine signed Memoranda of Understandings, which are being followed by jointly organized activities. He also reminded all that during the last MAG Meeting, MAG accepted the proposed roadmap of finalization of the Strategy Paper 2015-2020 and tasked RACVIAC Management to follow the described process, in order to have a final document for adoption at the 33rd MAG Meeting. Director Mandic furthermore noted that next year RACVIAC will have its 15th Anniversary, which will not only be marked by a solemn celebration, but also with a special conference.

In continuation MAG members approved the Annual Programme for 2015 and took note of the Projection of the RACVIAC Programme for 2016 - 2017. Ms Ivana Barbara Blažević, Head of the Arms Control Section at the Croatian Ministry of Defence, gave a presentation of the Counter-WMD Network as a follow up to the Chairman’s Conclusions form the 31st MAG Meeting, where MAG considered the proposal made by the Republic of Croatia and RACVIAC to establish a Regional WMD Non-Proliferation Network within RACVIAC and endorsed the initiative to build a WMD Non-proliferation network. MAG encouraged RACVIAC and Croatia to continue with this initiative.

In other proceedings MAG accepted the recommendations of the Budgetary Meeting, which took place the day before the MAG Meeting, taking note of the realization of the RACVIAC 2014 Budget and approving the 2015 Operating Part of the RACVIAC Budget.

MAG also confirmed Ms Vesna Batistić-Kos PhD, Assistant Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia, as the new MAG Chairperson. At the same time, MAG expressed its gratitude for the excellent job done by Major General Milan Mojsilović during his MAG Chairmanship.

In final business, MAG invited Kosovo* to participate on a permanent basis, at all levels and on equal terms in all activities and meetings of RACVIAC/MAG**.

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence. (In accordance with Arrangements regarding regional representation and cooperation.)

** The Republic of Serbia stated that the participation of Kosovo should be in accordance with the Agreement on principles governing the normalization of relations and Arrangements regarding regional representation and cooperation and in compliance with Gymnich formula and UNSCR 1244. The participation will not apply to security forces.

03 October 2014

Regional Search and Rescue Seminar: ˝Coastal Search and Rescue and Mass Casualty Situations” held in Split, Croatia

A regional search and rescue seminar titled Coastal Search and Rescue and Mass Casualty Situations was held in Split Croatia from September 29 to October 02 2014. The seminar was organized by the RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation in cooperation with the Tactical Air Command of the Kingdom of Denmark and the Croatian Coast Guard.

In his opening address RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic noted that this regional seminar is part of the RACVIAC Regional Search and Rescue project and it is a continuation of a series of activities organized on this topic. The initial event was held in May 2011 in Belgrade, followed by a fact-finding conference held in RACVIAC in November 2012, Basic Search and Rescue Course in April 2013 in Sarajevo and a Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Course at the Tara Mountain in Serbia.

He went on to say that “unfortunate cases that have occurred so far teach us that the prevention of loss of human lives and reduction of consequences could be possible through the implementation of prevention practices before disasters occur and afterwards, with well-planned, fast, efficient and professional intervention. This suggests that education, prevention and treatment are very important, as well as the technology needed to cope with disasters, which is a matter of preparedness and application. However, we also need cross- border contingency plans and provisions to ensure a rapid and efficient response. Bureaucracy must be crossed out in situations that pose a threat. We are all “ambassadors” who have the responsibility of Search and Rescue development. That is why we need to start from our own level and spread the knowledge to the next. Even more, we need to challenge our own national/state systems where we see room for improvement, because politicians do not necessarily know everything about search and rescue. I think that the situation on the terrain requires action in a more effective and responsible way. We are all witnesses to what is happening with the latest floods that continually affect the region. This should spur us to cooperate closer in order to be more active and more prepared against these threats”.

The purpose of the seminar was to inform, educate and inspire through discussions the designated SAR responsible persons from different national institutions, selected to direct and coordinate SAR operations, especially with regards to coastal SAR and mass casualty situations. The objectives were: to specify the role and responsibilities of the involved SAR mission staff in order to enable them to deal with coastal emergency situations with mass casualties; to present examples of best practices needed to manage coastal emergencies and mass casualty situations; and to inspire the generating of contingency plans for the management of efficient and cost effective response and rescue.

Over the course of the event lectures covered such topics as: Volunteer Maritime and Coastal Rescue by LtCDR B. T. Madsen (DK); Cold weather rescue equipment and operational considerations when working in extreme conditions by Sgt Bo Sørensen (DK); a Presentation on the 2014 Rescue Operations in Serbia – Command, Coordination and Communication by LTC Miroslav Zećević (RS); COSPAS SARSAT status of the new MEOSAR Satellite system and program updates by LtCol Ove Urup-Madsen (DK); Aviation Accidents and a Search and Rescue – Case Study by Mr Drago Radić (BA); and Cold Exposure and Hypothermia by Dr Benedict Kjærgaard (DK).

The theoretical part of the seminar was followed by a practical demonstration of search and rescue at sea conducted by the Croatian Coast Guard.

In his closing remarks, RACVIAC Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop thanked all those that took part in co-organizing the seminar without whom the event wouldn’t have been a success.

He added that presentations by experts from our SEE Region showed that there is a need for closer cooperation between countries on concrete topics of Search and Rescue in the future. This means that the responsible institutions in the field of Search and Rescue have marked a notable development, but there is still work to be done. The legislative and institutional framework about Search and Rescue should be corrected and improved in terms of facilitating and increasing efficiency of all competent entities in the system, including volunteers as a SAR concept. There is a need for broader participation of all subjects that comprise the Search and Rescue field, especially the participation of the civil sector which inadequately included in this field and so-called SAR by volunteers.

In conclusion Brigadier General Jakop noted that political will and commitment is crucial in supporting measures and activities in terms of creating better legal, financial and institutional conditions to actors involved in Search and Rescue.

01 October 2014

OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security: 20 Years Anniversary/Peer to Peer Conference gets under way in RACVIAC

The OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security was adopted in 1994 and through a definition of standards it presents one of the main OSCE mechanisms to address the global security challenges. In that light The Code of Conduct has played a vital role for the European countries that were in a transition process and wanted to develop democratic governments and pertinent defence and security institutions. All participating States commit themselves to “at all times provide for and maintain effective guidance to and control of its military, paramilitary and security forces by constitutionally established authorities vested with democratic legitimacy”. The main tools of the CoC are the annual exchange of information by means of Participating States’ implementation reports and for the past several years countries of South East Europe have complied with the annual information exchange and have been strong supporters of the Code and its implementation.

This year marks twenty years since the adoption of the Code of Conduct and it is evident that it still provides guidance on how to organize and govern the security sector. In that regard the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation organized the 20 Year Anniversary/Peer to Peer Conference from September 30 to October 2, 2014.

The event began with a ceremony at the Sheraton Hotel in Zagreb, Croatia celebrating 20 years since the adoption of the OSCE Code of Conduct. The commemoration ceremony was opened by RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic. Guest speakers included Mr. Zlatko Gareljić, Defence Adviser, Office of the President of the Republic of Croatia; Mr Zoran Šajinović, Assistant Minister for International Cooperation, Ministry of Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina; Mr Georg Diwald, Minister-Counsellor, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Austria to Croatia; Major General Michele Torres, Personal Representative, OSCE, Office of the Personal Representative for Article IV and Dr Istvan Gyarmati, Ambassador, Director of International Centre for Democratic Transition (ICDT), Executive Secretary of the Budapest OSCE Summit (1994).

On the second and third day of the conference, participants will be discussing various aspects of the OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security and engage in a Peer to Peer review among the South East European States.

25 September 2014

SEEBRIG Commander Brigadier General Hakan Eser visits RACVIAC

SEEBRIG Commander Brigadier General Hakan Eser and RACVIAC Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop On Thursday September 25th, 2014 SEEBRIG Commander Brigadier General Hakan Eser visited the RACVIAC Centre for Security Cooperation in the company of Colonel Huseyin Gurgen, the Military Attache at the Turkish embassy to the Republic of Croatia and Captain Nuir Emre Mayakan ADC.

The delegation was welcomed by RACVIAC Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop who said that it was a pleasure to welcome such a distinguished delegation to the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.

Following initial introductions by the RACVIAC staff present, a presentation on the RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation was given by Language Expert Sanja Romić. A discussion followed in which Brigadier General Jakop and the RACVIAC staff informed their guests of the various aspects of programme development at RACVIAC. It was noted that RACVIAC is adopting a project oriented approach to activities, under which each pillar will focus on four or five main projects with several activities under each project. It was also noted that in conjunction with 15th anniversary celebrations, RACVIAC will be launching it's new Strategy 2020 next year.

Signing the guest book Brigadier General Eser wrote „It was a great honour and pleasure to visit RACVIAC as commander of SEEBRIG. I understood RACVIAC has been contributing much to security and arms control nissues of South East Europe. Best wishes and thanks for all presentations, preparations and the hospitality.“

25 September 2014

Seminar on „Consensus in Decision Making: Strategy or Stalemate“ held in RACVIAC

A seminar titled Consensus in Decision Making: Strategy or Stalemate was held in RACVIAC from September 24 – 25, 2014.

The main purpose of the seminar was to address the concept, the benefits and the ways of implementing consensus in long-term matters on any decision- making level.

The main objectives of the seminar were to elaborate on: What Consensus is; How Consensus is executed when agreed upon; Can national positive or negative case studies prove the potential benefits of Consensus; Consensus in Defence decision-making and What would be the results of Consensus becoming a standard in decision-making.

Opening the event RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic said „This seminar will address the concept of consensus, one of the most difficult goals to reach even in the so called old democracies. Consensus is the process of negotiation through which all participants take into account ideas and views of all the other participants and through which an acceptable level of giving-up on their own ideas and views leads to balanced and realistic decisions that can stand the test of long-term execution and implementation. The result of a decision reached through the process of consensus by all means represents a saving of the national (or sub-national) financial resources, enhances the political stability by involving the whole nation and provides the necessary space to better focus on other important projects.“

Over the course of the seminar participants discussed various aspects of consensus in decision making and had an opportunity to see national presentations from the representatives present.

Guest speakers included Mr Sebastian von Munchow, Ph.D., George C. Marshall Center, DE; Ambassador Imre Varga, Special advisor, International Centre for Democratic Transition, Hungary; Mr Gordan Bosanac, Centre for Peace Studies, Zagreb, HR; Mr Sandro Knezović, Ph.D., Institute for International Relations, Zagreb, HR; Mr Marko Savković, B.Sc., Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, RS and Mr Slaviša Šćekić, Expert-Advisor for Security and Defence, the Parliament of Montenegro.

24 September 2014

Romanian delegation visits RACVIAC

RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic and Mr Valeriu Nicut, State Secretary for Defence Policy and Planning, Romania A Romanian delegation consisting of Mr Valeriu Nicut, State Secretary for Defence Policy and Planning and LTC Jan-Florin Ganea, Head of SEDM-CC/PMSC Secretariat visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on September 24th, 2014.

The delegation was greeted by RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic, who said that he glad to have the opportunity to welcome a Romanian delegation at RACVIAC considering the cooperation between the Centre and Romania.

Following an introduction to RACVAIAC staff present at the meeting, the Romanian delegation was given a presentation on the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation. A discussion followed in which various aspects of RACVIAC business were discussed.

Mr Valeriu expressed his support for the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation adding that he was glad he had an opportunity to visit a Centre that was doing much good in the region.

The delegation ended there visit with a dinner in the Zagreb city centre hosted by Director Mandic.

10 September 2014

Mr Jon Trumble of TNDT Border Unit, OSCE Secretariat visits RACVIAC

On September 10th , 2014 Mr Jon Trumble from the TNDT border unit at the OSCE secretariat visited RACVIAC.

Upon his arrival Mr Trumble was welcomed by RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic. Following a short office call with Director Mandic, Mr Trumble met with members of the RACVIAC staff. He was given a briefing on the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Operation and provided with details regarding the work of the organization.

Considering the OSCE involvement in Ukraine, Mr Trumble was given the opportunity to present the work of the OSCE in that region. He briefly explained the OSCE monitoring mission in the Ukraine and it's involvement in assisting the international community during the investigation into the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. Furthermore he explained the work of the OSCE in monitoring two border crossings between Ukraine and Russia and noted that the OSCE has been invited to monitor the ceasefire between the two sides.

Director Mandic thanked Mr Trumble for visiting RACVIAC and providing staff members with the current efforts of the OSCE in Ukraine.

The meeting continued with discussion between Mr Trumble and Programme managers on possible areas of cooperation between the OSCE and the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, particularly in issues related to border management.

30 June 2014

RACVIAC attends Fifth meeting of the Programme Steering Committee to review and identify developments and challenges within the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe (2012-2015)

Monday, 30 June 2014, Vienna International Centre

RACVIAC Planning and Liaison Officer for Western Europe and International Organizations, Colonel Ferdinand Klinser MSD, attended the Fifth meeting of the Programme Steering Committee to review and identify developments and challenges within the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe (2012-2015) which was opened by Mr. Yury Fedotov of the Russian Federation Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Director-General of the United Nations Office in Vienna (UNOV) holding at the same time the rank of Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.

The Regional Program for South Eastern Europe for the period of 2012-2015 (RP) focuses on the so-called "Balkan Route" region, the major route for the illicit trafficking of heroin from West Asia into Europe. The RP was endorsed by the participating countries and launched on 23 May 2012 by the UNODC Executive Director Mr. Yury Fedotov. The RP has three Sub-Programs. Its Sub-Program 1 foresees comprehensive interventions in law enforcement and drug trafficking areas, which will focus on countering the Afghan heroine route going through the Balkans, based on the UNODC expertise in this area. RP's Sub-Program 2 is aimed at improving justice and integrity in the countries, while Sub-Program 3 is aimed at health consequences of drug abuse. The Regional Program is an institutional priority for UNODC.

The Regional Program is fully integrated, in line with the Integrated Programming Approach launched by UNODC in 2009 and confirmed by resolutions issued by UNODC's governing bodies.

The Program foresees a notional budget of approximately USD 14.6 million (for the period 2012-2015). Donors for UNODC's interventions in South Eastern Europe have so far included: the EU, Germany, Italy, France, Turkey, Belgium and the UN funds. Some funds are co-sponsored by the Paris Pact Initiative.

To corroborate UNODCs strong efforts in the Region the current ongoing projects ‘’Regional Program for South Eastern Europe 2012-2015 - Countering Illicit Trafficking and Organized Crime for Improved Governance, Justice and Security 2012-2015" and "Support for the Integrated Programming Unit to promote multidisciplinary and cross-sector technical cooperation" demand to be highlighted.

This concrete meeting was dedicated to report about the Progress of the Regional Programme since the last PSC meeting, its implementation, developments and challenges, practices and activities.

The sessions of the meeting dealt with the Review of partnership opportunities and the role of the Programme Steering Committee , Statements by the regional organizations , Coordination at country level with existing assistance mechanisms and new fund-raising opportunities, Identification of immediate priorities, Review of the existing work-plan for the second half of 2014 , Review of communication and coordination arrangements, Network, local coordination and regular communication, reporting and feedback and was concluded with an essential wrap up.

Among other duties, such as participation and contribution with relevant expertise and experience in several side-meetings and discussions, the event appeared to be an excellent and prominent platform for RACVIAC Planning and Liaison Officer Col Klinser to present a detailed overview of the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, the organization's strategic objectives, activities conducted and results achieved, its Main Areas of Interest with focus on the New Strategy 2020 and the way ahead based on the envisaged enlargement of cooperation with our prestigious MoU Partner UNODC and others.

26 June 2014

Seminar on Effective Practices of the Implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540 gets underway at RACVIAC

The seminar on Effective Practices of the Implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540 began at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Thursday June 26th and will last until June 27th. The seminar is being co-organized by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia.

In his opening address RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Branimir Mandic welcomed the co-organizers, Mrs Sanja Bujas Juraga, the Director for NATO and International Security at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia and Mr Nikita Smidovich, the political advisor and representative of the UNODA. He also extended a warm welcome to lecturers representing different countries and participants from the MAG countries and international organisations.

Director Mandic noted that the event is truly important as it deals with an interesting topic that has received special attention in the region of South-Eastern Europe - the implementation of Resolution 1540. He noted that there have been significant efforts made by the States in the region, including through the adoption of national laws and regulations and the preparation and submission to the 1540 Committee of voluntary National Implementation Action Plans. Thus, 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.

Director Mandic also noted that the topic of the seminar remains more current than ever, and that this could be the second event in a series of similar ones. Director Mandic said that RACVIAC stands ready to be a platform of the member states and a possible regional promoter of the UNSCR 1540.

Over the course of June 26-27 participants will engage in three panel discussions: The UNSCR 1540 Peer Review as an Effective Practice; Peer Review and similar practices within the framework of international & regional organizations and Member States; and Information Sharing on Recent National 1540 Implementation Activities and Effective National Practices.

18 June 2014

RACVIAC Delegation Conducts Coordination Visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina

A RACVIAC delegation consisting of Director, - Ambassador Branimir Mandic, Programme Manager for International and Regional Cooperation, Ms Marija Zuzek and Activity Coordinator, Mr Iljmi Selami visited conducted a coordination visit in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Hezegovina on June 17th.

The visit was to coordinate the upcoming activities in the field of Building Integrity and Fighting Corruption and Floods.

On Tuesday June 17th, the delegation was welcomed at the premises of the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) where preparations were conducted at a working meeting regarding the upcoming conferences on Building Integrity and Fighting Corruption that will be conducted during November 2014 and April 2015 in the Republic of Macedonia. These conferences will be organized jointly by the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Macedonia, the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) and RACVIAC-Centre for Security Cooperation.

Furthermore, the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) and the RACVIAC-Centre for Security Cooperation, recognizing the mutual interest to establish effective cooperation in the areas of common interest and having in mind the importance of a synergy in action for safeguarding and improving regional security and good governance, signed a Memorandum of Understanding during the meeting.

Later in the day the delegation visited the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina where a working/coordination meeting was held regarding the upcoming event on Floods that will be conducted during November 2014 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The event is jointly being organized by the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the RACVIAC-Centre for Security Cooperation.

16 June 2014

Orientation Course for Agreement on Sub-Regional Arms Control (Dayton Article IV) began at RACVIAC

The Dayton Article IV - Agreement on Sub-Regional Arms Control Orientation Course began at RACVIAC on June 16th 2014 and will run through to June 20th.

In his opening address RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Branimir Mandić, welcomed representatives of the countries signatories to the Agreement, Ambassador Branka Latinovic from the Republic of Serbia, Lt Col Kresimir Bosnjak from the Republic of Croatia, Mr Momir Brajic from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Mr Pavle Karanikic from Montenegro. He also welcomed Major General Michele Torres of Italy, the Personal Representative of the Chairman-in-Office for Article IV, Annex 1-B of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Furthermore, he thanked the Ministry of Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina for their generous assistance in organizing the practical part of the course.

Director Mandic noted that RACVIAC has had the honour of organizing the Dayton Article IV Orientation Course since 2001 in cooperation with the office of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office for Article IV, Annex 1-B of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and with the financial support of the Republic of Germany. He noted that the Article IV Dayton Agreement Orientation course represents one of the most significant RACVIAC programme activities, as it directly contributes to regional stability, transparency and building trust.

The Course is intended to train representatives from the countries signatories in their roles as inspectors and receiving teams. It is also intended to contribute to a uniform interpretation of the agreement, thus ensuring mutual trust and openness during the conduct of inspections.

In conclusion Director Mandic said that he was confident the course will significantly contribute to strengthening openness and dialogue among the countries in the region thus fulfilling its goals.

Following Director Mandic, the floor was given to the representatives of the countries signatories who gave a retrospective overview of the agreement and its status in their respective countries. It was noted in particular that the Agreement is a living document, while the transferral of the Agreement to regional ownership was underlined as a significant achievement.

Over the next three days participants will hear lectures and participate in discussions regarding the various provisions of the agreement and its implementation. The course will conclude with a practical part where the participants will conduct a training inspection at the 1st battalion, 6th Infantry Brigade in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

16 June 2014

Delegation from American University in Bosnia and Herzegovina visits RACVIAC

A delegation from the American University in Bosnia Herzegovina (AUBiH) lead by its president Esmir Ganic visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Monday June 16th, 2014. The purpose of the visit was to enhance cooperation under the Memorandum of Understanding between the two organizations.

RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Branimir Mandic welcomed the guests. Following introductions by all staff members present Mr Esmir Ganić briefly informed those gathered of the history of the American University in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He noted that it was founded in 2005 and is an American accredited university based in Sarajevo and Tuzla. Briefly going over the various programs at the university, he also noted that they strive to concentrate on employment for their students upon graduation.

A presentation on the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation was then given by Public Affairs officer Capt. Branko Lozancic. Following the presentation each of the RACVIAC program managers informed the guests of their respective pillars and projects being developed within them.

Denis Prcic of the American University in Bosnia and Herzegovina then took the floor providing the RACVIAC staff with further information on AUBiH programs and development, pointing out two conferences recently organized: a conference on Cyber Security and a conference on International and National Security. He also announced a forthcoming conference on Industrial Security and Intelligence for the fall of this year.

During the second half of the meeting, AUBiH representatives, RACVIAC program managers and planning and liaison officers discussed details of further cooperation under the memorandum of understanding between the two organizations.

12 June 2014

1st Working Group Meeting of Legal Experts on MAG Terms of Reference gets underway at RACVIAC

The 1st Working Group Meeting of legal experts on MAG Terms of Reference got under way at RACVIAC on July 12th 2014. The gathering began on Wednesday July 11th with a welcome dinner at the Barbara Club at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation in Rakitje, Croatia.

The Working group will be working throughout the day and their results will be presented to the MAG members.

12 June 2014

Japanese Ambassador to Croatia, H.E. Mr Keiji Ide visits RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation

The Japanese Ambassador to Croatia, H.E. Mr Keiji Ide visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Wednesday June 11th, 2014. The Ambassador was greeted by RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Branimir Mandic, Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop and members of the RACVIAC staff.

The meeting was opened with a brief introduction by each of the staff members present and a presentation about the work of RACVIAC given by Public Affairs Officer Capt. Branko Lozancic.

During discussion that followed Dirctor Mandic informed the Japanese Ambassador about current developments taking place at RACVIAC. He noted that RACVIAC has stabilized its budget and is proud of the communication it has with its member countries and partners. He added that nine MOUs have been signed with other organizations dealing in security cooperation with the network constantly expanding to avoid duplication and achieve synergy. Director Mandic also pointed out that RACVIAC has achieved permanent communication with the EU and NATO through contact countries Croatia and Austria respectively.

Elaborating on the progress of work at RACVIAC, Director Mandic pointed out that a project approach to activities is being adopted adding that this will be reflected in the new RACVIAC Strategy 2020 which will be launched at celebration next year marking the Centre's 15th anniversary. Under the Strategy each pillar within RACVIAC will cover 4 or 5 fields containing projects regarding cyber security, energy security, search and rescue and border management, just to name a few.

Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop informed the Japanese Ambassador about challenges RACVIAC is facing and noted that the Centre is always looking for new sources of expertise.

H.E. Mr. Ide thanked the representatives present for receiving his visit noting that he is proud to be the first Japanese Ambassador to visit the Centre. He said that he considers it important to promote cooperation in all fields including security adding that Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, recently gave a speech in NATO in which he said that NATO and Japan are natural partners.

H.E. Mr. Ide said that he was impressed by he Centre's efforts to support regional cooperation and noted that Japan has similar initiatives in its region including cyber security, energy security and coping with disasters.

In conclusion the Japanese Ambassador left copies of speeches by Japanese Prime Minister Abe and a copy of the new Japanese National Security Strategy for the RACVIAC staff. Signing the guest book H.E. Mr. Ide wrote that he hopes to start cooperation and develop our joint efforts for peace, stability and prosperity for all of us.

12 June 2014

RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Branimir Mandic, Addresses Forum for Security Cooperation within OSCE, in Vienna Austria

On June 4th 2014, RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic presented the work of the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation during the Moldovan chairmanship of the 756th Meeting of the Forum for Security Cooperation within the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, OSCE, in Vienna Austria. Director Mandic presented current events taking place at the RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation and in regional cooperation immediately following the address by the Minister of Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. Zekerijah Osmic.

During his presentation Director Mandic strongly advocated the strengthening of regional cooperation and offered the significant experience the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation has gained regarding Article IV of the Dayton Agreement to others in the region.

A joint statement adopted by EU member countries included strong support for new developments in the work of the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and efforts invested in adjusting its program to the current needs of countries in the South East European region.

In this context RACVIAC was recognized by the OSCE as an important partner in advancing cooperation in the field of security.

06 June 2014

Coordination Meeting Held in Split, Croatia for Upcoming Coastal Search and Rescue Event

A delegation from the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, headed by Deputy Director , Brigadier General Zadravko Jakop held a coordination meeting in Split, Croatia on June 3rd, 2014 in preparation for the upcoming Coastal Search and Rescue event scheduled for September 29th to October 2nd.

Upon their arrival the RACVAIC delegation, which also consisted of Planning and Liaison Officer for South East Europe, Ms Ivis Nocka and Subject Matter Expert Iljmi Selami met with the Croatian Navy Commander, Rear Admiral Robert Hranj. Rear Admiral Hranj expressed the Croatian Navy's readiness to cooperate with the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and offered their full support for the event.

During the preparatory meeting for the Coastal Search and Rescue event, the RACVIAC delegation met with Lt. Colonel Ove Urup-Madsen from the Tactical Air Command of the Kingdom of Denmark, the Commander of the Croatian Coast Guard, Commodore Marin Stosic and 1st Lieutenant Tomislav Dukic from the Croatian Armed Forces.

Brigadier General Jakop informed the participants of the meeting on RAVIAC's Regional Search and Rescue project as a continuation of a series of activities organized on the topic in cooperation between RACVIAC and Tactical Air Command of the Kingdom of Denmark. He noted that RACVIAC and the Danish Tactical Air Command stand ready to support these efforts by continuing to provide a platform for the countries in the South-East European region in reaching their common goals in the field of search and rescue.

All participants welcomed the initiative for cooperation aimed at organizing such an event. They expressed their willingness and readiness for active participation in order to make the event succeed. It was also noted that this is regarded as a good base for cooperation between the institutions and organizations that they represent.

05 June 2014

Conference titled „Parliamentary Oversight: Annual Meeting of Regional Parliamentary Defence and Security Committees“ began today.

The Parliamentary Oversight: Annual meeting of Regional Parliamentary Defence and Security Committees conference got under way today at Croatian Parliament. The RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation organized the conference in cooperation with the Joint Committee on Defence and Security of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Croatian Parliament with the support of the George C, Marshall Centre from Garmisch Partenkirchen in Germany.

The event began in Croatian Parliament with an opening address given by RACVIAC Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravk Jakop. In his address, Brigadier General Jakop noted that the event is a continuation of previous conferences held under the same name. He underlined topics to be discussed which include: proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and similar global and regional challenges; prevention of corruption, extremism and illegal migration; challenges concerning the storage of small arms and light weapons; conversion of military facilities throughout the region; cyber security; energy security; border security, and financial constraints.

Brigadier General Jakop emphasized that parliamentary oversight is of paramount importance for MPs and staffers in the exercise of their executive powers. He added that the conference is intended to provide a broad introduction to mechanisms and practices at the disposal of regional parliamentary defence and security committees by providing a forum for discussion and exchange of experience. In conclusion he wished all fruitful discussion for the benefit of the region and beyond.

The conference lasts until June 6th and will comprise of speeches and presentations given by committee members, committee experts and international experts, followed by a discussion and a moderated best practice session at the end of each working day.

02 June 2014

RACVIAC attends Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC), in Vienna, Austria

RACVIAC Planning and Liaison Officer for Western Europe and International Organizations, Colonel Ferdinand Klinser MSD, attended the open-ended intergovernmental working group intersession meeting to report about its implementation practices and activities, held in Vienna, Austria from 26th – 29th May 2014 and organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), RACVIACs international and supportive MoU partner.

During the course of the event representatives of 41 State Parties, 4 Signatory/Observer States, 9 Observer States, 7 Intergovernmental Organizations discussed how to assist the Conference in promoting and supporting the implementation of the Firearms Protocol, coordination with other relevant international and regional organizations, best practices in the areas of training and enhance cooperation and information-sharing, capacity-building and awareness-raising strategies to prevent and combat the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, their parts and components and ammunition and to identify synergies that can be exploited for the benefit of their respective Member States.

Several developments at the international level have contributed to advance global efforts to combat the illicit trafficking in and manufacturing of firearms, their parts and ammunition. Of notable importance was the conclusion in April 2013 of the United Nations Conference to Negotiate an Arms Trade Treaty and the adoption by the General Assembly of a legally binding Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The ATT covers nine categories of conventional arms, including small arms and light weapons, whereas the Firearms Protocol covers firearms, their parts and components and ammunition. The ATT focus on measures to regulate the licit trade and prevent and eradicate the illicit trade in conventional arms and to prevent their diversion to the illicit market or for unauthorized end use including the commission of terrorist acts. The Firearms Protocol focuses on the criminal justice responses to the illicit manufacturing and trafficking in firearms, their parts and components and ammunition, and to their negative impact on socio-economic development, security and well-being of people, countries and regions.

In 2011, the UNODC launched its Global Firearms Programme (GFP) with the aim to raise awareness, promote adherence to and support the implementation of the Firearms Protocol by providing technical and legislative assistance to Member States. The Programme focuses on the following areas:

Awareness-raising and promotion of the ratification of the Firearms Protocol, Development of specialized tools, Legislative development to strengthen the legal and regulatory framework on firearms and promote regional harmonization of laws and practices, Capacity-building, training and technical support to reduce the availability of illegal firearms, strengthen the regulatory framework on firearms, especially in marking, record-keeping, transfer controls, collection and destruction of firearms, training and capacity-building with a view to strengthening criminal justice responses and to promote effective international cooperation and information exchange for combating illicit trafficking in firearms and related offences, Increased knowledge on transnational firearms trafficking patterns and enhanced civil society engagement.

UNODC developed the Model Law against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms as a tool to assist State parties in translating the treaty language of the Organized Crime Convention and the Firearms Protocol into domestic legal provisions, and to assist them in strengthening their legislative regimes on firearms in a manner consistent with the Firearms Protocol. The Model Law’s broad range of provisions covers both the preventive firearms control measures such as manufacturing, record-keeping, deactivation, international transfers of firearms and related brokering activities, and the penal and procedural measures derived from the Firearms Protocol and the Transnational Organized Crime Convention. The Model Law also complements the Legislative Guides for the Implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols thereto and was translated into all official languages of the United Nations and disseminated to all relevant organizations.

The Model Law was used as a reference for the development of legislative and regulatory modules of the International Small Arms Control Standards (ISACS) that provide clear, practical and comprehensive guidance to practitioners and polic ymakers on fundamental aspects of small arms and light weapons control. The Model Law was further used by UNODC in the process of providing legislative support to the countries from Latin America and West Africa as a harmonization tool for their new legislation on firearms control.

Among other duties, such as participation and contribution with relevant expertise and experience in several syndicate meetings and discussions, the event appeared to be an excellent and prominent platform for RACVIAC planning and Liaison Officer Col Klinser to present to the 41 representatives of the State Parties including the European Union and 7 Intergovernmental Organizations such as Interpol, Eurojust, OSCE, WCO etc. a detailed overview of the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, the organization's strategic objectives, its Main Areas of Interest with focus on the New Strategy 2020 as well as activities conducted.

26 May 2014

Romanian Delegation visits RACVIAC

On Monday May 26th, 2014, a Romanian delegation headed by Mr Adrian Davidoiu, Director General for Strategic Affairs at the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.

Upon arrival the Romanian delegation had an office call with RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic followed by a meeting in the briefing room of the main building. Public Affairs Officer Capt. Branko Lozancic provided the guests with a general presentation on the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation after which Director Mandic informed them on current events taking place at the Centre.

Director Mandic noted that RACVIAC has completed legal framework necessary for functioning after signing the Host Nation Agreement with the Republic of Croatia and a Technical Agreement with the Croatian Ministry of Defence last year. He underlined the good cooperation RACVIAC has with other regional and sub-regional organizations noting that this is essential in preventing duplication and achieving synergy.

Finally, Director Mandic added that RACVIAC will be celebrating its 15th anniversary next year and has good reason to be proud of the achievements it has made. At the celebrations marking the Centre's 15th anniversary a new RACVIAC Strategy will be launched that is intended to be a short but useful document. In an effort to meet the needs and requirements of member countries, the strategy will focus on a project oriented approach to activities with each pillar focusing on around five fields.

Mr. Davidoiu thanked Director Mandic for providing information on the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and noted that he believes it is time for a consolidation of regional platforms. He underlined the importance of maintaining synergy and avoiding duplication in efforts as well as focusing on projects that may find funding from other international forums.

Following the formal part of the meeting the Romanian representatives remained behind with member of the International and Regional Cooperation Pillar to discuss the Energy Security project.

The delegation ended their visit with a lunch hosted by Director Mandic.

23 May 2014

RACVIAC Organizes Drive to Collect Humanitarian Aid for Those Affected by Flooding

Taking into account the difficult situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Croatia and the Republic of Serbia due to flooding, the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation organized a humanitarian drive on Thursday May 22nd, 2014 to collect aid for those affected.

RACVCIAC would like to thank all those that took part in providing food, water and materials; or money which was used to purchase such materials. On Friday May 23rd, 2014, RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic, Programme Manager Marija Zuzek, Public Affairs Officer Capt. Branko Lozancic and drivers Mr. Darko Urek and Cpl. Željko Golec delivered the aid collected to the embassies of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Serbia and to the Croatian Red Cross.

We hope that our small contribution will assist those who have been affected by flooding and help them begin the process of returning to their homes.

The flooding in the three mentioned countries only drove home the message of how useful RACVIAC activities can be in providing a platform for dialogue and cooperation, in particular those activities related to Search and Rescue.

21 May 2014

NCGM Gender Training of the Trainers Course Begins at RACVIAC

The Gender Training of Trainers course got underway today at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation. The course is being conducted in cooperation with the Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations and the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia.

The importance of the Gender aspect in Military operations had prompted NATO, as well as other national and multinational defence organisations to address, regulate and implement the Gender issue, both on the duty level and on the level of participation in Peace Support Operations (PSO). According to the Review of the Practical Implications of UNSCR 1325 for the Conduct of NATO-led Operations and Missions (2013) a very important recommendation to NATO and all current and future Operational Partner nations is to “train trainers on UNSCR 1325 and gender mainstreaming, with the objective of supporting on-the-job training.”

The main purpose of this course is to instruct carefully selected participants in addressing and dealing with the implementation of the Gender issue in evolving Military operations and its impact on wider civil-military relations. This course provides participants with information and skills to plan and develop gender-oriented training programmes as well as to mainstream gender in other training or education curricula. Also, this course seeks to build a strong team of gender trainers across the region. The purpose and objectives of the course are in accordance with the curriculum of the Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations, NATO Head Department for the Gender issue.

The course will last until May 29th and be executed according to the official NATO certified NCGM programme and carried out by their Mobile Education and Training Team (METT).

Participants that complete the course will be fully cetified to plan, organize and conduct training in gender related issues.

19 May 2014

URGENT - Regional Search and Rescue Seminar “Winter Search and Rescue, Cold Exposure and Hypothermia” Postponed

The RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation would like to inform all members that the Regional Search and Rescue Seminar “Winter Search and Rescue, Cold Exposure and Hypothermia” that was scheduled to be held in Belgrade, Serbia from 20-22nd of May 2014, has been postponed due to the emergency situation in the Republic of Serbia resulting from flooding.

The Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Serbia remains in its dedication to host this event after the complete stabilization of unpredicted circumstances in the country.

Participants will be informed of changes as information becomes available.

The RACVIAC - Center for Security Cooperation fully understands the position of the Republic of Serbia and expresses deep regret in this difficult moment supporting the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia and the institutions that are responding to the grave situation.

07 May 2014

Conference of Regional Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs, CIRTs and CSIRTs) held in RACVIAC

A conference of regional Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs, CIRTs and CSIRTs) was held at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation from May 6th to 7th, 2014. The purpose of the event was to bring together representatives and equivalent representatives of CERTs (CIRTs, CSIRTs) from the SEE region in order to facilitate the exchange of experience and regional cooperation. Moreover, the aim was to expose the participants from the SEE region to experiences of experts from international organizations and countries of the region.

In his welcome address RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Branimir Mandic, said that the event is a continuation of a series of events dedicated to the topic of cyber security organized by RACVIAC. In December 2010 RACVIAC conducted the conference entitled “Unprecedented Wave of Security Vulnerability: Cyber Security Threats in SEE”. One of the main conclusions reached at the conference was that countries should invest additional efforts in providing specialized ICT personnel training. A year later, in December 2011, RACVIAC organized an activity entitled “The RACVIAC Cyber Security Project: Roundtable”, where further steps regarding activities related to cyber security were agreed upon. In the following year (2012) RACVIAC, with the support of the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme, organized and carried out a workshop entitled “Cyber Defence Strategies and Policies: Addressing a Constantly Changing Threat.” Finally, in December 2013, and event was organized during which participants discussed the “Impact of Cybercrime in the Economic Environment of the South-East European Region”.

Director Mandic especially welcomed the keynote speakers: Ms. Andrea Dufkova from the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA), Mr. Gorazd Bozic, the Head of the Slovenian CERT who was also a chair of the European CERT group Task Force-Computer Security Incident Response Teams from 2000 to 2008, Colonel Metodi Hadji-Janev, Associate Professor of Law, from the Military Academy “General Mihailo Apostolski” in Skopje, Mr. Darko Perhoc, Head of the Croatian CERT which is a part of the Croatian Academic and Research Network – CARNet, Mr. Predrag Pale from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing at the University of Zagreb, and Mr. Freddy Dezeure, the head of CERT-EU.

The conference was conducted as a combination of presentations and speeches, followed by Q&A sessions. The objectives were: to update participants on new developments in cyber security; to enable participants to exchange knowledge, experience and know-how, as well as to facilitate networking among them (possible associations), and to raise awareness of the importance of cooperation in response to cyber threats on the national and regional level.

05 May 2014

Students from Ban Josip Jelačić War College of the Republic of Croatia visit RACVIAC

Students from the Ban Josip Jelačić War College of the Republic of Croatia visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on May 5th 2014.

RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic welcomed the guests underlining the outstanding cooperation between the Centre and the Croatian Military Academy adding that it was a part of the RACVIAC strategy. Director Mandic informed the guests of cooperation RACVIAC continues to foster in the south east European region adding that the Centre has proven to be useful to the region for numerous years hosting more than eleven thousand participants at its activities.

Following Director Mandic, Colonel Miro Colic from the Ban Jelačić War College addressed those present noting that he was glad to be back at RACVIAC. He said that cooperation with RACVIAC over the years has been exemplary and valuable adding that the Croatian Military Academy has an interest in maintaining cooperation with the only international organization situated in the Republic of Croatia.

The students were then given a presentation on the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation by Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop, a graduate of the Ban Josip Jelačić War College himself. Following a short break, General Jakop gave an additional presentation on arms control, covering the various treaties in place and their implementation.

In conclusion the students were given a presentation by the commander of the Croatian Training Centre for International Military Operations, which shares the Vitez Damir Martić barracks with RACVIAC.

30 April 2014

Civil Military Relations Seminar: Private (Military) Security Companies II Taking Place in RACVIAC

The Civil Military Relations Seminar: Private (Military) Security Companies II is being held in RACVIAC on April 29th, and 30th. The Seminar is the second in a series of similar events which became a RACVIAC mid-term project focussing on the changes in Civil-Military Relations (CMR) and the effects of privatisation of the security sector.

RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic opened the event welcoming the representatives from member countries and institutions attending as well as Ms Ines Krajcak, Assistant Minister of the Interior of the Republic of Croatia and Mr Zlatko Gareljic, Defence Advisor to the President of the Republic of Croatia.

Director Mandic recalled that the previous seminar succeeded in bringing together representatives from South East European (SEE) private security companies and representatives of state structures, providing them with relevant general information on global trends, rapid growth and the changing nature of the private (military) security sector in the last two decades as well as its impact on civil-military relations. He noted that Private (Military) Security Companies and other Private Security Providers, as primary actors belonging to the private sector, apart from physical and asset security, progressively play an important role in providing services related to the protection of national or state assets, thus taking over a portion of responsibilities previously associated only with the state. Considering the importance of this division of clients, as well as the diverse nature of the responsibility of both partner sides, it is clear that a firm and fair regulation must be put in place for the benefit of success of private business and the fulfilment of state or public interests.

Director Mandic said that the seminar is aimed at becoming a RACVIAC mid-term project focused on the changes in Civil-Military Relations (CMR) and the effects of privatisation of the security sector. Similarly, RACVIAC’s Security Sector Programme for the mid-term period aims to include parliamentary oversight over the security sector and protection of human rights. This seminar could serve as a tool to cover all such pertinent issues.

This years’ event will focus on the implementation of international regulation by addressing Private security matters in national legislatures, specific aspects of Private security and national needs for protection and the current status and recent developments in the regulation of Private security. Additionally, national experiences, lessons learned, setbacks and needs of the Private security sector will be addressed.

Opening addresses were also given by Ms Ines Krajcak, Assistant Minister of the Interior of the Republic of Croatia who spoke about changes to legislation covering private security companies in Croatia as well as Mr Zlatko Gareljic, Defence Advisor to the President of the Republic of Croatia, who underlined the importance of initiatives such as the Montreux document.

The seminar is being conducted through a series of panel discussions: Panel I: History, Global Trends and Rapid Growth of the P(M)S Sector and Impact on Civil Military Relations. Panel II: What Roles are appropriate for P(M)SCs? Panel III: National Experiences in the Implementation of P(M)SC Regulations. Panel IV: Options for the Effective Regulation of P(M)SC at the International Level Panel V: Implementing Regulation from the International Level into National Legislation

22 April 2014

3rd Class of Higher Security and Defence Studies from the National Defence School of the Republic of Serbia visited RACVIAC

The 3rd class of Higher Security and Defence Studies at the National Defence School of the Republic of Serbia visited RACVIAC on April 22nd in conjunction with their study trip to the Republic of Croatia.

RACVIAC Director, Ambssador Branimir Mandic welcomed the guests expressing his great pleasure to receive such a distinguished delegation. He then gave the floor to Col Mate Jelic, the Director of the National Defence School of the Republic of Croatia.

Col Jelic gave a brief overview of the 3rd class of students attending higher security and defence studies, pointing out that this generation includes several ministers and foreign students.

Following a brief presentation on the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, deputy director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop presented the CSE (Cooperative Security Environment) pillar. He noted that the pillar presents one of RACVIAC's core functions dating back to its establishment, originally as an arms control verification implementation assistance centre. General Jakop provided information on activities conducted by the pillar placing special emphasis on the Open Skies Aerial Observation Course, which is a flagship event of the centre and remains the only practical course available regarding the implementation of the Open Skies treaty.

Programme manager for the IRC (International and Regional Cooperation) pillar, Ms Marija Zuzek, addressed the guests next providing information regarding the activities within the pillar. She specifically pointed out the project oriented approach to activities being introduced within her pillar in several areas, including cyber security, building integrity, energy security and search and rescue, to name a few. She noted that through coordination with RACVIAC partners duplication will be avoided and that each project, upon completion will provide a tangible result in the form of a publication.

The floor was then given to programme manager, Mr Branko Kromar, who presented the work of the SSR (Security Sector Reform) pillar. Mr Kromar particularly pointed out activities involving border management, education systems in South East Europe, smart defence and polling and sharing and civil military relations. He noted that in the future his pillar will be streamlining it's scope of activity in order to provide an even better quality product to those attending RACVIAC activities.

Director Mandic concluded the briefing speaking about RACVIAC's future. He noted that a new strategy will be adopted covering a six year period in order to support longer term projects. He added that activities within these projects will be created through constant communication with partners. He also briefly mentioned an initiative to create a pillar/centre within RACVIAC to deal exclusively with non-proliferation issues in cooperation with the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and the US Proliferation Security Initiative. Furthermore, director Mandic emphasized that RACVIAC has become recognized as a brand in security cooperation and the model could be presented to other regions including North Africa and the Black Sea basin.

In conclusion the floor was opened to the students attending the 3rd class of Higher Security and Defence Studies who posed several questions regarding the functioning of RACVIAC and its steering mechanism MAG.

18 April 2014

31st MAG Meeting Held In Belgrade, Republic of Serbia

The 31st semi-annual meeting of the RACVIAC steering body - Multinational Advisory Group (MAG), was held in Belgrade in the Republic of Serbia on April 17th 2014, under the chairmanship of MAG Chairperson, Major General Milan Mojsilovic. The Meeting gathered representatives from the majority of RACVIAC member states and representatives of the UNDP/SEESAC and UNODC.

The MAG meeting itself was preceded by a budgetary meeting held at the same venue on April 16th, where representatives from MAG member countries discussed financial issues pertaining to the the work of RACVIAC.

On April 17th the MAG meeting was held beginning with RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Branimir Mandic presenting his annual report highlighting RACVIAC’s achievements over the past year. A presentation by each of the RACVIAC Programme Managers followed where they provided the MAG members with information regarding the programmes in each of their pillars for 2014, 2015 and beyond. MAG members were also given a presentation by Planning and Liaison officer Col Ferdinand Klinser on the achievements of Programme Development Group as well as a roadmap for the development of the RACVIAC Strategy 2015 – 2020.

RACVIAC Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop presented the personnel situation within RACVIAC. He emphasized that a lack of secondees still presents a challenge to the Centre and encouraged member countries to provide secondees to fill vacant positions. General Jakop also noted that in order to bridge the lack of personnel RACVIAC has taken on two volunteers from Croatia and one intern from Romania, while also contracting an assistant working in the Cooperative Security Environment pillar.

Speaking as a special guest, the commander of the CBRN Training Centre in the Republic of Serbia, LtCol Ivan Lazarevic, presented the organization he commands.

In other business the members discussed changes to the MAG Terms of Reference and agreed to form a working group in that regard to be lead by RACVIAC management.

Furthermore members discussed the proposal to form a non-proliferation centre/pillar within the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation. As a result, the MAG members endorsed an initiative to build a WMD network.

In conclusion, it was decided that the next MAG meeting would be held at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation , in Rakitje, Croatia on October 9th and 10th 2014.

11 April 2014

Ambassadorial meeting held in RACVIAC

An ambassadorial meeting was held in ARCVIAC on Friday April 11th. The purpose of the meeting was to inform RACVIAC members and partners of the current state of affairs at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, of challenges and plans for the future.

Special guests at the meeting included First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia, HE Ms Vesna Pusić and Deputy Minister of Defence of the Republic of Croatia Ms Višnja Tafra. The meeting was also attended by more than 20 ambassadors accredited in the Republic of Croatia as well as numerous military attaches.

RACVIAC Director Branimir Mandić opened the meeting by giving the floor to First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia, HE Ms Vesna Pusić. In her address Ms Pusić noted that she was impressed to hear that Arms Control has advanced to go beyond the stipulation of various treaties noting that this is a significant step forward. She said that with countries in the region having a European perspective there has emerged a sense of responsibility for the region, by the region, and that RACVIAC contributes to this. Ms Pusić added that RACVIAC is growing stronger pledging her support and her compliments to the leadership. Signing the RACVIAC guestbook, Ms Pusić wrote that she was glad to return to RACVIAC once again, an institution that is constantly improving and of which she is proud.

In her address Deputy Minister of Defence of the Republic of Croatia, Ms Višnja Tafra, said that Croatia is proud of RACVIAC as an outstanding international organization, truly owned by all of its member and participating states. The success of RACVIAC is the success of us all, and that gives us a reason to be satisfied today, said Ms Tafra. She added that RACVIAC is a regional success story. It is the proof of our invested efforts and an example of good regional cooperation. Furthermore, she noted that it is Croatia's ambition to take this project to an even higher level at which the policy component will be additionally strengthened. In conclusion she reaffirmed that the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia will maintain full support to the work of this organization.

Following addresses by the guests, RACVIAC director ambassador Branimir Mandić noted that the Centre has advanced significantly since the signing of the new RACVIAC agreement. He informed the distinguished guests of an initiative in the development phase to create a new pillar/centre within RACVIAC that would exclusively deal with non-proliferation issues.

Finally RACVIAC Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop gave a presentation on the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, providing details on the RACVIAC programme, the functioning of the organization, its budget and plans for the future.

A reception was held following the meeting at the Rakitje restaurant where guests took the time to engage in fruitful discussion in a more relaxed atmosphere.

11 April 2014

RACVIAC Delegation Attends meeting on UNSCR 1540 Activities and Implementation Practices in Vienna, Austria

A RACVIAC delegation consisting of Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop and Planning and Liason Officer for Western Europe and International Organizations, Col. Ferdinand Klinser, attended a meeting of International and Regional Organizations on UNSCR 1540 implementation practices and activities, held in Vienna, Austria from 7 -11 April 2014.

The event was organized by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and the Conflict Prevention Centre of the Secretariat of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). During the course of the event Staff and experts from the secretariats of more than 20 international and regional organizations discussed how to enhance cooperation and information-sharing, and to identify synergies that can be exploited on issues of implementing resolution 1540 for the benefit of their respective Member States.

RACVIAC planning and Liason Officer Col Klinser provided participants with an overview of the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and informed them of the organization's strategic objectives as well as activities conducted related to UNSCR 1540: a seminar on Regional Commodity Identification Training for Dual Use and Military Goods and a seminar on Effective Practices of the Implementation of UNSCR 1540.

It was noted that the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation can act as bridge between the planning and implementation levels bringing information directly to those involved in hands-on implementation of 1540.

Col Klinser also breifly informed participants of an initiative that is in the development phase to create a new pillar/centre within RACVIAC that would exclusively deal with non-proliferation issues.

08 April 2014

Technical Agreement signed between RACVIAC and Nordic Center for Gender in Military Operations

A delegation of the Nordic Center for Gender in Military Operations (NCGM)- NATO Department Head concerning Gender headed by Jan Dunmarray, the first Commander of NCGM visited RACVIAC on Monday, 7 April 2014 concerning the signing of a Technical Agreement between NCGM-NATO Department Head concerning Gender, Sweden and the RACVIAC – Center for Security Cooperation in regards to the forthcoming NCGM Gender Training of the Trainers (GToT) Course, to be held in RACVIAC from 19 to 29 May, 2014.

The visit spanned a Signing Ceremony, a tour of the RACVIAC facilities and a working lunch, during which the two delegations discussed the details of the Agreement underpinning the GToT Course.

The visit began with the Signing Ceremony which included a fine-tuning phase of the Technical Agreement between NCGM and RACVIAC. At the Ceremony, the Programme Manager for Security Sector Reform Pillar, M.Sc. Branko Kromar wished the NCGM delegation a pleasant stay in Croatia, saying that RACVIAC was not a tabula rasa in this field and stressing that the topic was of great interest for the SSR Pillar in particular. On his part, RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandić emphasized that RACVIAC as a whole will continue working on different aspects of the gender issue and always include countries of the region in this field.

CDR Dunmayer concluded by saying that NATO agents through Courses such as GToT can learn how to be agents of change in their field of work. He added that he and his delegation were glad to visit RACVIAC where, after the Signing Ceremony, they were led on a tour of the RACVIAC facilities in which the GToT Course will take place in May.

27 March 2014

Delegation from the Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* visits RACVIAC

A delegation from the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Thursday, March 27th. Lieutenant General Naser Sejdini, the Deputy Chief of General Staff lead the delegation consisting of Mr Ilir Selmani, Chief of the Minister’s Cabinet and Mr Spasoja Damjanoski, Head of MoD Finances.

RACVIAC deputy director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop greeted the delegation thanking them for the continued support that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* has provided for RACVIAC.

Lieutenant General Sejdini thanked the RACVIAC staff present for receiving the delegation and conveyed greetings from both the Minister of Defence and the Chief of General Staff. He noted that his country looks on regional cooperation with great interest and expressed hope that organizations such as RACVIAC will help the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in its efforts to join Euro-Atlantic integrations.

General Sejdini commended RACVIAC for the work that it does and said that his country will continue to fully support its activities not just in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* but other locations as well. He added once again that his country considers regional cooperation important for stability in South East Europe.

Mr Spasoja Damjanoski pointed out that he was glad to visit the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and see first hand what his department supports on so many occasions, indicating that he will be a good representative in advocating the RACVIAC idea in the future.

Following a brief presentation on the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, a fruitful discussion was held where Lieutenant General Sejdini stressed, among other things, that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* will consider seconding an additional member to the RACVIAC staff in the time to come.

In conclusion Brigadier General Jakop thanked the delegation for their visit and praised the idea of seconding an additional member to the RACVIAC staff. He referred to the fact that in 2015 RACVIAC will be celebrating its 15th anniversary and that, since its establishment, more than ten thousand people have attended RACVIAC events. He added that this is significant and shows that RACVIAC uses funds placed at its disposal efficiently and effectively to provide the region with the best product possible.

Prior to departure Brigadier General Jakop lead the delegation on a tour of the RACVIAC facilities and hosted a lunch for the guests.

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

27 March 2014

RACVIAC Delegation Attends Workshop on „Promoting OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security“

A RACVIAC delegation led by Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic and consisting of Programme Manager for International and Regional Cooperation, Ms. Marija Zuzek, and Programme Manager for Security Sector Reform, Mr.Sc. Branko Kromar are participating in the Workshop on „Promoting OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security“ in Belgrade, Serbia, which started yesterday, on the 26th of March, and will last until the 28th of March.

The Workshop was jointly organized by the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation as a partner, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Serbia, OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre (CPC) and OSCE Mission in Serbia, with the support of the Federal Republic of Germany, Switzerland, DCAF and the OSCE Parlamentary Assembly.

The purpopse of the Workshop is to support the implementation of the OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico – Military Aspects of Security in South – East Europe and beyond.

The Workshop was introduced by high ranking keynote speakers outlining the importance of the implementation of the OSCE Code of Conduct, followed by presentations and discussions of representatives of the OSCE pS of SEE, OSCE field missions, academics and NGO's.

At the Opening session on 26th of March, RACVIAC Director Branimir Mandic welcomed and thanked partners for the invitation to participate in this Workshop.

25 March 2014

RACVIAC delegation attends SEDM meeting in Bucharest, Romania

The management of the RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation visited Bucharest, Romania from March 18th to 21st where they participated in a meeting of the South-Eastern Europe Defence Ministerial (SEDM) process and the meetings related to Romania's support to the work of the Center.

In addition to participation in the SEDM meeting, meetings with the new State Secretary of the Ministry of Defence of Romania, Mr Valeriu Nikuta and the adviser of the Prime Minister of Romania in charge of energy issues, Ambassador Mihnea Constantinescu, also took place.

During the meeting, the new State Secretary of the Ministry of Defence of Romania, Mr Valeriu Nikut expressed strong interest in RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation activities and once again reaffirmed Romania's support for further strategic directions in the work RACVIAC does. In this regard, special interest was expressed in the RACVIAC "2020" Strategy. On the occasion, Mr Nikut also announced his official visit to the RACVIAC - Center for Security Cooperation in the forthcoming period.

During the working visit to Romania the management of the RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation met with the adviser of the Prime Minister of Romania for energy issues, Ambassador Mihnea Constantinescu. The aim of the meeting was a continuation of harmonization of details pertaining to Romania's leading role in the realization of the energy security project within the Centre's programme of activities. In this sense, the adviser to the Prime Minister of Romania in charge of energy issues, Ambassador Mihnea Constantinescu informed those present of the importance that the project in the field of energy security within the RACVIAC programme has for Romania and stressed the importance of safety aspects in this regard for the wider region of South East Europe.

18 March 2014

Chemical Weapons Convention Seminar began at RACVIAC

The Chemical Weapons Convention Seminar got underway in RACVIAC today running through to March 20th and gathering a significant number of participants from the SEE region. The activity is being organized by the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

In his opening address, RACVIAC Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop noted that the event is a continuation of fruitful cooperation between RACVIAC and the OPCW in promoting the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in South East Europe (SEE). The CWC Seminar represents one of the most important annual activities of the organization, and this year we are delighted to host it for an eleventh time.

General Jakop stressed that the purpose of the Seminar is to discuss relevant issues related to the CWC, such as the overview of the achievements and challenges regarding the CWC and Article X in particular, clarification of any uncertainties in fulfilling obligations under Article X of the CWC by the Member States, information about OPCW’s roles and capabilities under Article X of the CWC and the importance of capacity building in the fight against Chemical Weapons Agents (CWA) and Toxic Industrial Chemicals (TIC).

The floor was then given to Mr Mark Albon, the OPCW Director of International Cooperation and Assistance. Mr Albon said that it was a pleasure to be at RACVIAC again, underlining the long history the two organizations have together particularly in this field. He pointed out two significant events that recently took place affecting the work of the OPCW: winning the Nobel Prize for Peace and work in Syria. Mr Albon underscored that as a result there has been renewed focus on the need to eliminate chemical weapons. He emphasised that, ultimately, cooperation is needed to implement the CWC and that challenges still remain. Furthermore, he specified that the seminar is important as it will facilitate regional cooperation and network building.

At the end of the opening ceremony a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation and the OPCW. Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop signed for RACVIAC while Director of International Cooperation and Assistance Mr Mark Albon signed for the OPCW.

12 March 2014

Financial Agreement for 2014 Signed with Federal Republic of Germany

On March 12th 2014, H.E. Mr Hans Peter Annen, German Ambassador to Croatia, and the Director of RACVIAC, Ambassador Branimir Mandic, signed the Financial Agreement between the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and the Federal Republic of Germany for the year 2014.

With this Agreement, the Federal Republic of Germany allocated funds which will be used to support RACVIAC activities covering the costs of seminars, courses and workshops, especially within the RACVIAC 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.

10 March 2014

RACVIAC participates in the Conference on Counterterrorism in the Region of SE Europe

The RACVIAC - Center for Security Cooperation officially participated in the sixth international regional conference 'Counterterrorism Challenges in the Region of South-Eastern Europe' held from 04 to 06 March 2014 in Maribor, Slovenia.

The sixth international regional conference was a continuation of previous conferences and proved to be very successful, highlighting the importance of cooperation between counter-terrorism experts from various countries and international organizations.

The conference was jointly organized by the Intelligence and Security Service of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Slovenia, the US Embassy to Slovenia – Defense Cooperation Office, the US Center for Civil-Military Relations and the Institute for Corporate Security Studies Ljubljana.

In this light, the RACVIAC - Center for Security Cooperation presented its line of work in the area of Counterterrorism, highlighting the role of RACVIAC as a platform for regional dialogue in the development of regional responses (measures) to terrorist threats.

27 February 2014

RACVIAC Delegation visits MK Ministry of Justice

On February 25th 2014, the Director of RACVIAC, Ambassador Branimir Mandic, during his visit to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, met the Minister of Justice Mr Blerim Bexheti. Topics of discussion included the establishment of regional cooperation and promotion of opportunities for joint activities between the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Director Mandic informed the Minister about the activities within RACVIAC's programme for 2014, emphasizing possibilities for the realization of events in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in the field of building integrity and prevention of corruption. He underlined the intention to organize a conference in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in this field, which is expected to provide an initial framework for development of further steps in the activity. The event should precede a ministerial conference, planned to be held in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in the first half of 2015.

Minister Bexheti informed Director Mandic about activities that the Ministry has undertaken in the field of eradication of corruption and stressed the importance of regional and wider cooperation in prevention of corruption, which is an important precondition for wellbeing and economic development.

Efforts to reinforce and further advance cooperation within the framework of activities proposed by the RACVIAC-Centre for Security Cooperation were also discussed. Minister Bexheti added that regional connectivity, through initiatives such as RACVIAC, are a particularly important element for creating a climate of trust, respect, friendship and support among countries in the region.

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

27 February 2014

RACVIAC Delegation visited MARRI RC

A RACVIAC delegation led by Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic and consisting of Programme Manager for International and Regional Cooperation, Ms. Marija Zuzek, and Subject Matter Experts Mr. Iljmi Selami and LtC Josip Mlakic, visited the MARRI RC (The Migration, Asylum, Refugees Regional Initiative - Regional Centre) in Skopje on Tuesday, February 25th. The meeting was a good opportunity for members of the RACVIAC delegation and the MARRI RC representatives to exchange information about current affairs and plans for the future, in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two organizations.

Discussion included joint activities between RACVIAC and the MARRI RC in organizing seminars and workshops in 2014, as well as planning of activities for 2015.

27 February 2014

Working visit of RACVIAC delegation to Skopje

On Monday, February 24th 2014, as part of a working visit to the institutions of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, a RACVIAC delegation headed by Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic met in Skopje with the Minister of Defence Mr. Talat Xhaferi, and representatives from the “General Mihailo Apostolski” Military Academy.

During the meeting, Ambassador Mandic informed the Minister about the activities being conducted under the RACVIAC programme for 2014, underlining that the main purpose of the working visit was to explore possibilities for the realization of two project-oriented activities in the field of building integrity and preventing corruption, as well as the development of a cyber-security project with the support of the Military Academy.

Minister Xhaferi welcomed this initiative and noted that the Ministry of Defence will support RACVIAC for the suggested projects, stressing that they present a great value for the region.

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

21 February 2014

Physical Security and Stockpile Management Workshop Held in RACVIAC

A Physical Security and Stockpile Management Workshop was held in the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation from February 19th to 20th, 2014 in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Defence and Sports of the Republic of Austria and the Bundeswehr Verification Centre (BwVC) of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The Director of RACVIAC, Ambassador Branimir Mandic welcomed the guests, lecturers and participants expressing his appreciation for their interest and participation. He noted that Stockpiling of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW), Conventional Armaments (CA) and explosives continue to be burning issues. The safe storage and disposal of surplus and aging weapons and munitions is a matter of serious concern for the South East European region. Countries and international organizations have addressed this issue several times, making sincere efforts to decrease the threat. Director Mandic underlined that only a continuous effort, especially in terms of providing appropriate education and training, can ease the situation and contribute to finding a successful solution to this challenge. This is the main reason why RACVIAC organizes these types of workshops and courses on a regular basis.

The workshop comprised theoretical lectures/presentations, discussions and parallel syndicate work, whose aim was to get the participants acquainted with international standards and best practices for the safe storage of SALW/CA, with an emphasis on physical security.

The objectives of the workshop were: • To provide profound experiences to decision makers, managerial and executive authorities; • To analyse main challenges in stockpile management and find ways and methodologies for improvement; • To harmonize, streamline and synchronize regional and institutional efforts in PSSM in SEE; • To seek for synergies and avoid duplication and redundancy; • To discuss current education and training models and the creation of proper conditions for the countries to conduct a Train the Trainers Course in SALW/CA subjects; • To specify the necessary national and regional requirements for the transfer of knowledge and capacity building for implementation of new methodologies focusing on SALW/CA issues.

In conclusion, the participants expressed an appreciation for the openess of all those that took part in the discussions and provided unbiased information concerning relevant issues from their national perspectives. It was noted that standardization was necessary within the SEE region with respect to the PSSM issues of training, creation of a unified database, possible niche capabilities and mutual training.

20 February 2014

Delegation of Croatian Parliamentary Committees Visits RACVIAC

A delegation of three committees from the Croatian Parliament visited RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on February 20th, 2014. The delegation was led by Mr Miroslav Tudjman, the head of the Domestic Policy and National Security Committee and Mr Tomislav Ivic, the head of the Defence Committee. Mr Maroje Katalinic represented Mr Boris Blazekovic, the head of the Croatian Parliament’s Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of NATO.

RACVIAC's Director, Ambassador Branimir Mandic and Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop, welcomed the guests noting that it was a pleasure to host such a distnguished delegation from the Host Nation.

The members of the parliamentary committees were given a presentation on RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation by Brigadier General Jakop who informed them of the Centre's history, its organization and activities it conducts. Following the presentation Director Mandic gave a further elaboration, providing details regarding the adaptation of RACVIAC to the needs of the region. He pointed out that there are numerous organizations in the region dealing with security issues and that RACVIAC strives to avoid duplication, adding that nine memorandums of understanding have been signed with regional and sub-regional organizations, including the OSCE, UN and NATO School Oberammergau, just to name a few. He also noted that RACVIAC is broadening its cooperation with NATO and the EU and in that regard the Republic of Croatia has assumed the role of a contact nation for NATO while the Republic of Austria is the contact nation for the EU.

Touching upon recent events, Director Mandic noted that Romania and Turkey ratified the Agreement on RACVIAC last year and that he is looking forward to Bulgaria and Slovenia possibly signing the agreement. He added that a new RACVIAC Strategy will be prepared soon to coincide with RACVIAC's 15 year anniversary next year that will reduce the number of activities conducted and raise their quality. He pointed out that the future RACVIAC programme will focus on 12 areas in a project-oriented sense, in order to better match the needs of the region.

A fruitful discussion followed where members of the parliamentary committees gained further insight into the working of the only international organization based on the territory of the Republic of Croatia.

In conclusion, the delegation was given a tour of the RACVIAC facilities by Brigadier General Jakop, which was followed by a lunch with members of the RACVIAC staff.

19 February 2014

Defence Attaches Visit RACVIAC and IMOTC

A delegation of Defence attaches accredited in the Republic of Croatia visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and the Croatian International Military Operations Training Centre on February 19th, 2014.

The purpose of the visit was to familiarize the attaches with the work of the two organizations that share the „Vitez Damir Martic“ barracks in Rakitje, Croatia.

The director of RACVIAC, Ambassador Branimir Mandic, welcomed the distinguished guests noting that some of them have already been to RACVIAC while others are welcome newcomers.

A presentation on RACVIAC was given by the Public Affairs Officer, Capt. Branko Lozancic, followed by a discussion in which Director Mandic informed the guests of current activities at the organization. He noted that RACVIAC is adopting a project oriented approach to activities in order to better match the needs of its members. He also pointed out that RACVIAC is fortunate to have a stable budget situation and is looking forward to a possible signing of the Agreement on RACVIAC by Slovenia and Bulgaria.

Following a short break for a group photo, a presentation on the IMOTC was given by its commander, LtCol Ivica Plejic, who informed the guests about the IMOTC's history and current activities. He provided details on the various courses the Centre conducts in order to prepare members of the armed forces from Croatia and abroad for duties in international missions.

The visit was concluded with a tour of the „Vitez Damir Martic“ barracks, hosted by LtCol Plejic, followed by lunch with staff members from RACVIAC and the IMOTC.

05 February 2014

Defence Resources Management „Transition of Military Education Systems in South East Europe“ Got Underway Today at RACVIAC

A Seminar titled: Defence Resources Management „Transition of Military Education Systems in South East Europe“ got underway today in RACVIAC, Rakitje, Croatia. The purpose of the seminar is to address aspects of the evolving military professionalization process and its impact on civil-military relations in the past, present and future. The main seminar objectives are to elaborate on: • Changes in CMR in the last two decades; • Euro-Atlantic integration process and impact on the Military; • Military professionalization versus conscript system; • Legal aspects of professional military status and impacts on educational system; • Historical aspects of military education in Europe; • Military educational reform in Central and Eastern Europe; • Integration of military education systems in the public sphere; • Future perspectives of military education and challenges in the 21st century.

Opening the event RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic noted that this is the first in a series of activities in the RACVIAC Security Sector Reform Programme that focuses on this very important issue. He welcomed the representatives from the nine countries taking part and expressed his gratitude to the Croatian Defence Academy for its support in co-organizing together with RACVIAC this important Seminar, which will take place tomorrow in the facilities of the Croatian Defence Academy in Zagreb.

Director Mandic noted that Due to a considerable impact of the financial crisis on European defence budgets in the last five years, the concept of pooling and sharing of defence capabilities has become a topical issue in Europe. Practically none of the European, and certainly none of the South East European countries are able to maintain the full spectrum of defence capabilities autonomously. Military education systems are undoubtedly a part of this problem. Consequently, defence resources management calls for better coordination of efforts among countries in order to enable accomplishing tasks with fewer resources, which in turn necessitates the discovery of new opportunities in the field of military cooperation.

In conclusion, Director Mandic said that he strongly believes such events are of high importance for all countries in the region, since they provide us with an opportunity to exchange experiences and further actions in the extremely important field of defence systems. Furthermore, this specific activity will contribute to and enhance the mutual understanding and collaboration in the field of military education, and thus deepen the security of our countries.

The floor was then given to Lieutenant General Slavko Baric the Director of the Croatian Military Academy "Petar Zrinski", who thanked RACVIAC for organizing the event and all participants for taking part.

General Baric noted that in this post-Afghanistan period, a time that presumes relative peace, the question of introducing novelties in the system of military education has been given priority by all nations that are willing to improve the system of military education. He pointed out that in the 2014/15 academic year two new academic programmes: Military Leadership and Management and Military Engineering will be introduced at the Croatian Defence Academy. The two goal is to create a system of military education which is synchronized with civilian system and gives enough basic military-specialist knowledge, capabilities and skills necessary to create leaders and commanders with adequate academic civilian and military knowledge.

General Baric then gave a brief overview of current challenges being faced by the Croatian Armed Forces’ Military Education System, elaborating on the admittance of first officers in the armed forces and the diversity of problems that appear. He added that this process of transformation has opened towards partners in the NATO and the EU, as well as neighboring countries. Finally, providing food for thought, General Baric suggested that thought should be given towards certain joint forms of education. For example: A Baltic Defense College, and Adriatic Defense College or a Southeast Defense College.

The second day of the activity will be taking place at the Croatian Defence Academy.

30 January 2014

Meeting of Points of Contact from the Multinational Advisory Group Held in RACVIAC

A meeting of MAG POCs was held in RACVIAC on Thursday, January 30th. Opening the meeting RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic welcomed the representatives from 13 countries present and noted that the organization greatly appreciates their support in making 2014 a successful year.

Director Mandic briefly reviewed the state of affairs in RACVIAC pointing out the positive events that had taken place in the recent past regarding a completion of the legal framework with the Host Nation Agreement being signed, Turkey and Romania ratifying the Agreement on RACVIAC and the Technical Agreement beign signed with host nation Croatia. He noted that although the RACVIAC budget is stable, challenges still remain in terms of personnel and the programme. Director Mandic stressed that RACVIAC is moving toward a project-oriented approach to activities and that this will require longer preparations.

Following the introductory address by Director Mandic, Programme Managers Col Zafer Kilic (TR), Mr Branko Kromar M.Sc. (SI) and Ms Marija Zuzek (RS) presented the programme for 2014 within their respected Pillars. Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop acquainted the representatives present with RACVIAC's manpower situation, noting that the Centre could use more support in this field and Chief of Administration and Finance, Capt Vlatka Jakupec (HR) presented the budget. An initiative for cooperation with the Proliferation Security Initiative was also set forth.

The greater part of the afternoon was reserved for fruitful discussion between the members present at which constructive and helpful suggestions were obtained.

Closing the event Director Mandic said that RACVIAC will take into account all suggestions received and inform the members on steps forward prior to the next MAG meeting.

28 January 2014

RACVIAC Delegation Meets with Minister of Defence of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*

On Tuesday, January 28th a RACVIAC delegation headed by Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic met in Zagreb with Mr. Talat Xhaferi, the Minister of Defence of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Opening the meeting Director Mandic thanked the delegation from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for taking the time to meet with RACVIAC's representatives and invited them to visit RACVIAC in the near future. Director Mandic thanked the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for supporting RACVIAC and for seconding Mr Iljmi Selami as a Subject Matter Expert, noting that RACVIAC had gained a very capable member for its staff.

Discussing RACVIAC's programme for 2014, Director Mandic pointed out the importance of RACVIAC member countries hosting activities and noted that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia provided an excellent example of such cooperation, hosting several activities last year and two this year: an event on Buidling Integrity and Anti-Corruption, as well as a seminar on Cyber Crime.

The RACVIAC delegation provided details regarding the Cyber Security Project being conducted in cooperation with NATO within the International and Regional Cooperation Pillar. It was noted that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia could be the country responsible for project documentation. In this light, a visit by a RACVIAC delegation to Minister Xhaferi in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was agreed upon for late February, to be followed by a meeting with representatives from their Military Academy to discuss further cooperation. The RACVIAC delegation also elaborated on the event regarding Building Integrity and Anti-corruption noting that it is a topic of interest to all countries in the region and that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia invests significant efforts in the fight against corruption.

Minister Xhaferi thanked the RACVIAC delegation for taking the time to meet with him and his delegation and noted that the secondee the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has sent to RACVIAC is an indication of their dedication to the organization. He added that his country will continue to host activities in accordance with the RACVIAC programme approved by the MAG and that they will provide support in order to fulfill our mutual goals, emphasizing that RACVIAC belonged to the region.

In conclusion Director Mandic highlighted the positive spirit in the region and noted that RACVIAC's work will reflect and contribute to it. Once again he invited Minister Xhaferi to visit RACVIAC and thanked him for the support of his country, expressing confidence that it will continue.

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

15 January 2014

Technical Agreement Signed Between RACVIAC and Croatian Ministry of Defence

On Tuesday January 14th, RACVIAC director Ambassador Branimir Mandic and Croatian Minister of Defence Ante Kotromanovic signed a technical agreement on cooperation between the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia and RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.

The agreement regulates the logistic support the Croatian Ministry of Defence provides for the work of RACVIAC. It is based on the RACVIAC Agreement and the Host Nation Agreement, that was signed last year between the Government of the Republic of Croatia and RACVIAC.

In discussion prior to the signing ceremony, RACVIAC Director Mandic thanked the Croatian MoD for their open cooperation and support provided so far. He noted that the Technical Agreement is the final piece of legal framework regarding RACVIAC that had to be updated. Ambassador Mandic informed the Minister of state of affairs in RACVIAC emphasizing that RACVIAC now has a stable budget, is turing toward a project-oriented approach toward activities and will be working on raising the visibility of the organization.

Minister Kotromanovic said that he was satisfied with the momentum RACVIAC has achieved in its work and that the Croatian Ministry of Defence will continue to support the organization. He noted that the increased engagement can be felt in terms of regional cooperation, to which his Ministry is paying special attention.

11 January 2014

RACVIAC Delegation Meets with Slovenian Minister of Defence

A RACVIAC delegation led by Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic and consisting of Deputy Director Zdravko Jakop and Programme Manager for International and Regional Cooperation, Marija Zuzek, met with Slovenian Minister of Defence, Roman Jakic in Ljubljana on Friday, January 10th. Discussion included a review of the overall work RACVIAC has done and the success of last year's Comprehensive Defence Ministerial hosted by Slovenia for the first time at Brdo near Kranj.

Director Mandic informed the Minister about the current work being done at RACVIAC and the new dynamics in the Centre's activities in regards to a project-oriented approach to activities. He thanked the Slovenian partners for their ongoing support and invited them to consider a broadening of mutual cooperation, which the Slovenian side said they would review. Furthermore, Director Mandic praised Slovenia for the successfull Comprehensive Defence Ministerial held in Brdo near Kranj last year.

Minister Jakic expressed satisfaction that the RACVIAC agreement has formally gone into effect and that the Host Nation Agreement with Croatia has been implemented, adding that this will undoubtedly provide a new dimension in the evolution of the organization. Minister Jakic also said that the Slovenian Ministry of Defence holds RACVIAC to be a proven organization in the field of security and defence cooperation with great potential. He added that Slovenia will continue to support RACVIAC by seconding a Programme Manager for the Security Sector Reform pillar and provide professional and expert speakers for courses and seminars being organized by the Centre. On a final note, Minister Jakic thanked the RACVIAC delegation for attending the Comprehensive Defence Ministerial and noted that Slovenia will explore the possibility of signing and ratifying the agreement on RACVIAC.

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