News 2015

09 December 2015

Seminar on Strategy Making Process and Strategic Financial Management held in Sutomore, Montenegro

A seminar titled „“Strategy Making Process and Strategic Financial Management - the Role of the Internal Audit and Control Functions” was held in in Sutomore, Montenegro on December 7th and 8th, 2015. The event was organized by the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation with the Assistance of the Ministry of Defence of Montenegro.

The seminar was a part RACVIAC's Security Sector Reform seminar series. The purpose of the joint event was to continue to point out specific solutions when it comes to required national Security Sector Reform processes. This seminar aimed to bring together two categories of participants, coming primarily from the SEE countries: the first group that deals with the strategy making process and the second group that deals within the financial management domain and, in this way, supports strategy execution.

The main seminar objectives were: To discuss latest solutions in the strategy making process; To discuss existing national experiences, including development of the national security strategy documents; To identify existing interconnections between strategy making/execution and strategic financial management processes; To introduce the strategic function of the internal audit process within the context of the previously mentioned correlations; To identify the role of the internal audit in budget system reform and efficient financial management.

During the course of the event participants heard lectures on: Strategic Management and the Policy Making Process in the Defence Sector; Applied Security Sector Strategy Formats; Internal Audit and Control in the Defence Sector - Experiences of the Ministry of Defence and Sports of the Republic of Austria; Measuring Results in Strategic Planning - Internal Audit as a Tool for Strategic Managers; as well as Internal Audit in the Public Sector and Other Mechanisms of Financial Control. National presentations were also heard on Applied Strategy Making Processes and Existing Strategy Documents in SEE and Applied Defence Sector Internal Audit Procedures in SEE.

In conclusion participants agreed that more such activities should take place in the future focusing on sharing of information regarding the function of the internal audit in the security sector.

07 December 2015

Deputy Minister of Defence of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* visits RACVIAC

The Deputy Minister of Defence of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* Mr Iljmi Selami visited the RACVIAC Centre for Security Cooperation on Monday December 7th, 2015. The visit began with an office call with RACVIAC Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop, followed by a meeting with members of the RACVIAC staff.

Mr Selami needed no introduction as his previous post before being appointed the Deputy Minister of Defence was at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, as a programme manager in the International and Regional Cooperation pillar.

Deputy Director BG Jakop thanked Mr Selami for his time at RACVIAC and the continued support he advocates for the centre, also pointing out the good cooperation RACVIAC has with the Mihailo Apostolski military academy. Programme managers informed Mr Selami about current events taking place at RACVIAC, regarding a movement from quantity to quality in activities and the publishing of a catalogue which will be distributed to members and partners to inform them in more detail about activities.

Mr Selami expressed pleasure in being able to visit RACVIAC and meet with the people he worked with adding that he was glad to see improvements. He underlined the importance the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* places on the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and that they see it as a common platform for mutual problems.

Mr Selami pointed out that the migrant crisis is presenting challenges to the countries along the migrant route and that assistance from other countries in the region and beyond would be appreciated. He also noted that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* is interested to bring the SEEBRIG command to their country as a reflection of their intention to demonstrate leadership in regional cooperation.

In conclusion Mr Selami reiterated that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* will continue to support the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.

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

03 December 2015

Arms Control Symposium begins at RACVIAC

On Thursday December 3rd, 2015 an Arms Control Symposium began at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation with the support of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Gathering experts from the region and beyond (Heads of Verification Centres, Heads of departments of MFA or MoD), the event will provide a platform for discussion on conventional Arms Control treaties, the reduction of security threats from CBRN materials and aspects of physical security and stockpile management, as well as a review of recent developments in the ever-changing political and security arena.

In his opening address RACVIAC Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop thanked the Federal Republic of Germany for their support, not only in this event but for RACVIAC in general from its very inception. He said that RACVIAC is very proud to be able to provide the platform for constructive dialogue and close cooperation, adding that a regional approach to security issues is a crucial element of peace and stability in the region and beyond.

German Defence Attaché LtCol Janus Kaschta German defence attaché to the Republic of Croatia, LtCol Janus Kaschta, also welcomed those gathered stressing the importance Germany gives to arms control. Wishing everyone a fruitful event LtCol Kaschta also reflected upon the early years of RACVIAC when it dealt exclusively with arms control and CSBMs, underlining the contribution RACVIAC has made over the past decade.

Over the course of the event participants will hear several lectures examining military capabilities in future conventional Arms Control; 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.

On the final day of the event a meeting of the Heads of Verifications Centres will be held to discuss topics having to do with Article IV, Annex 1-B of the Dayton Peace Accord.

26 November 2015

Ambassador of the Kingdom of Denmark pays courtesy visit to RACVIAC

On Thursday November 26th, 2015, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Denmark o the Republic of Croatia H.E. Anders Christian Hougård paid a courtesy visit to the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.

The visit began with a tête-à-tête meeting with RACVIAC Director H.E. Haydar Berk followed by a meeting with members of the RACVIAC staff where the work of the Centre was presented.

During discussion the great contribution of the Kingdom of Denmark to the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation was emphasized including its support to the Search and Rescue project from 2012 – 2014. H.E. Anders Christian Hougård said that he would be happy to improve contacts between RACVIAC and Denmark during his time as Ambassador.

24 November 2015

Conference on Building a Cyber Resilient Society in SEE begins at RACVIAC

A conference titled Building a Cyber Resilient Society in SEE began at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on November 24th, 2015. The event is being held in cooperation with the Military Academy “General Mihailo Apostolski”-Skopje, with the support of the Federal Republic of Germany. It represents a continuation of events in the field of Cyber Security at RACVIAC.

In his opening address RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Haydar Berk, gave a brief review of cyber security related activities previously organized by RACVIAC and underlined that the joint conclusion at these events was that cooperation is of vital importance for the development of protective mechanisms as well as the creation of a stable regulatory framework, in order to establish a cyber resilient society. This includes closer co-operation among the key players in cyber security, involving experts and policy makers including the private sector as crucial elements for establishing a Cyber Resilient Society.

Ambassador Berk added: "These days we can witness an intensive use of the Internet (cyber space) by different terrorist organizations for the purpose of recruitment of young people for terrorist activities, planning terrorist actions and spreading messages which glorify terror against innocent people and our democratic values.

We are aware that many steps are being undertaken on a national, regional and global level to prevent cybercrime, but when it comes to this kind of threat, it is impossible for one nation to protect itself without close cooperation with its neighbors and cooperation on a global scale.

The RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation will be ready to support your ideas, efforts and demands in order to make this link as strong as possible".

Over the course of the conference participants will hear several Austrian speakers address solutions regarding the Cyber Security field as well as national presentations regarding findings from the research part of the Cyber Security project.

19 November 2015

8th Annual Review Conference on Compliance with the OSCE / UN Security Commitments of Bosnia and Herzegovina

On 17th and 18th November 2015 the 8th Annual Review Conference on Compliance with the OSCE / UN Security Commitments of Bosnia and Herzegovina” was held on Jahorina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, which gathered more than 70 participants from the government, civil society and the expert community.

This conference is a major forum for constructive dialogue and exchange of opinions among politicians and experts in discussing the implementation of security commitments and security building measures, as well as developing solutions.

The delegation of RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation headed by Deputy Director BG Zdravko Jakop was an active participant during the Review Conference which was organized for the first time in a new, interactive format.

During the course of the event, special consideration was given to current security challenges such as irregular migrations, the refugee crisis affecting the region and international commitments related to countering violent extremism.

In the concluding panel, BG Jakop highlighted that RACVIAC Programme for 2016 offers activities which are topical and relevant for the regional security environment, encouraging the participants to provide their inputs regarding the improvement of the curriculum which will bring about synergy for better results in the future. He presented the topics of the 2016 Programme and stressed that sharing of information and good practices are of mutual interest for common security.

One of the conference conclusion was to organize a Regional conference on SALW for 2016. BG Jakop during his address said that RACVIAC stands ready to support this event which will be a continuation of providing a platform for the countries of the SEE region in reaching their goals in this area.

18 November 2015

Conference on New Security Challenges for Europe begins in RACVIAC

A conference titled New Security Challenges for Europe began at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Wednesday November 18th, 2015. The event is being organized in cooperation with the Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung Office in Croatia, and the Alumni Association of the George C. Marshall Centre, Croatia. It is a continuation of the established series of activities aimed toward enabling comprehensive discussions on developing security challenges for European countries.

The event began with a minute of silence for the victims of the November 13th terrorist attacks in Paris.

The conference objectives are: To identify developing security challenges for Europe in general and South East Europe in particular; To provide participants with the opportunity to share national considerations on the identified security challenges; To look into the rationale regarding the implementation of the current EU Security Strategy, especially in the light of a continuous intensification of illegal migrations and the way this process influences the level of terrorist threat within or outside of the European continent; To provide participants from NATO/EU member and non-member countries with a common platform to review the current security challenges emerging from the newest geopolitical shifts and resulting issues; To discuss current economic and financial trends within the European Union and to assess how growing national debts and budget constraints influence the joint security future of the European Union and the countries aspiring for membership.

Over the course of the event participants will hear lectures in five panels: New Security Challenges for European Union, Europe and Beyond; The True Nature of the SEE Migration Stream; Migrations and the Terrorism Threat; "South-Eastern Europe Migration Stream: Lessons Learned and Strategies; The Schengen Agreement and the EU Migration Challenge - FRONTEX as a Part of a Solution.

13 November 2015

RACVIAC Hosts Permanent Representative Meeting and 15th Anniversary Celebration for Former Staff

A meeting of permanent representatives was held at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Friday November 13th, 2015. The group of representatives met for coordination purposes based on the conclusions of the MAG meeting held in Dubrovnik, Croatia on October 23rd, 2015.

Following the meeting the representatives were joined by former members of the RACVIAC staff and given a presentation on the history of RACVIAC. The presentation was followed by a small celebration marking the 15th anniversary of the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.

12 November 2015

Joint Cooperation between the Faculty Of Security – Skopje and Racviac – Centre For Security Cooperation

On 12 November 2015 the Deputy Director of RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation, BG Zdravko Jakop met in RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation Prof. Dr. Marjan Gjurovski, PhD from the Faculty of Security - Skopje, University of St Kliment Ohridski. During the meeting cooperation between these two institutions was initiated as a basis to establish more intensified contacts, prepare and realize further projects which can be developed, and are of mutual interest, for the Faculty of Security - Skopje and RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation.

In addition, the possibility to harmonize and sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two institutions emerged. This MoU will stipulate the form of future cooperation through mutual visits, organization of trainings, seminars, scientific and expert conferences, forums as well as publishing of joint publications and regular work compilations (compendiums), realization of mutual scientific and research projects, etc.

Through this meeting high-level contact was established among the two institutions aiming to intensify the regional cooperation in the security area, cooperation and scientific research in SEE. The meeting between Prof. Dr. Gjurovski and BG Jakop was concluded with the aim to further intensify the dialogue which will enable the development of synergy between the Faculty of Security – Skopje and RACVIAC and among other notable international organizations in the field of security.

10 November 2015

RACVIAC delegation presents Centre to students at Faculty of Social Sciences in Ljubljana, Slovenia

On Tuesday November 10th, 2015, a RACVIAC delegation consisting of Deputy Director Zdravko Jakop and Programme Manager for Security Sector Reform, M.Sc. Ivan Hostnik visited the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia.

The delegation was received by the Chair of Defence Studies Professor Iztok Prezelj for an office call that was followed by a presentation of the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation to students studying at the university.

Students were interested to hear about the activities of RACVIAC and expressed an interest for the possibility of internship at the Centre. Brigadier General Jakop informed the students of the possibility for completing internship at the Centre and pointed out that one of the students present, Mr. Tin Kastelic spent a period acting as an intern at RACVIAC.

30 October 2015

Slovenian delegation visits the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation

On Friday October 30th, 2015, a delegation from the Republic of Slovenia visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation. The delegation consisted of Mr. Primož Šavc, the General Director of the Department for Defence Policy at the Slovenian Ministry of Defence, Col, Aleksander Murko, Military Attaché of the Republic of Slovenia responsible for Croatia and Mr. Ivan Hostnik, M.Sc. the Programme manager designate for the SSR pillar at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.

Following an office call with former Director Branimir Mandić and Deputy Director, Brigadier general Zdravko Jakop the delegation met with the RACVIAC staff. Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop welcomed the Slovenian delegation and underlined the exemplary cooperation the centre as had with the Republic of Slovenia over the years. Following a short introduction by each staff member a briefing was given on the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation. During the discussion Programme managers outlined activities underway in each of their respective pillars.

Mr Šavc thanked the RACVIAC staff for their hospitality and information they provided noting that he would put the changing of Slovenia’s status to full member on the agenda of the Slovenian Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The visit was also held in conjunction with the replacement of Mr. Branko Kromar M.Sc. who was the acting SSR Programme manager and Slovenian secondee at RACVIAC until the end of October. A small celebration was held in the foyer in front of the management offices where the staff said farewell to Mr Kromar and welcomed the new SSR programme manager Mr Ivan Hostnik M.Sc.

27 October 2015

Regional Search and Rescue Seminar gets underway in Tirana, Albania

A regional Search and Rescue Seminar titled “SAR Mission - Challenges Imposed by the Features of the SEE region” began in Tirana Albania on Tuesday October 27th, 2015. The event is being organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Albania.

This activity is a part of the RACVIAC Regional Search and Rescue project, while this Seminar is a continuation of a series of activities organized on this topic. The initial event was held in May 2011 in Belgrade, Republic of Serbia, followed by a Fact-finding Conference held in RACVIAC in November 2012, a Basic SAR Course in April 2013 in Sarajevo, BA, a SAR Mission Coordinator Course on the Tara Mountain in the Republic of Serbia and the Regional Search and Rescue Seminar ˝Coastal Search and Rescue and Mass Casualty Situations” in September 2014 in Split, HR.

The following video provides a brief look at the opening of the event.

In the course of these events it was concluded that there is a need for close cooperation and due communication among different level actors in charge of SAR missions. RACVIAC stands ready to support these efforts by continuing to provide a platform for the countries of the South East European region in reaching their common goals in the field of search and rescue.

The purpose of this Regional Search and Rescue Seminar is to inform and educate designated persons from national institutions selected to direct and coordinate the operation of search and rescue missions. The objectives are: to outline the role and responsibilities of the SAR mission staff in order to show and enable them to deal with different situations; and to obtain knowledge and best practices needed in order to manage challenging situations.

24 October 2015

34th MAG Meeting and 15th anniversary celebration held in Dubrovnik, Croatia

On Thursday October 22nd, 2015, the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation celebrated its 15th anniversary under the auspices of the president of the Republic of Croatia Mrs Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović.

Over 200 delegates attended the ceremony where the RACVIAC flag was passed on by MAG Chairperson, H.E. Vesna Batistić-Kos, Ambassador of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Croatia to the United Nations Office in Geneva, from RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandić to the RACVIAC Director Designate, Ambassador Haydar Berk. Addressing the gathering were RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandić, RACVIAC Director Designate Ambassador Haydar Berk, the Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council H.E. Mr Goran Svilanović, H.E. Thomas E. Schultze Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Croatia in the name of the German government and Mr Joško Klisović, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, in the name of the government of the Republic of Croatia. Participants also heard a greeting from Croatian president Mrs Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović via video.

Ministers of Defence and State Secretaries attended from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro, Turkey, Romania, Serbia and Moldova. Representatives of international organizations were also in attendance from RCC, SEDM, SEEBRIG, SEESAC and RAI, as well as members of the diplomatic corps and ministries of foreign affairs and defence from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, France, Greece, Kosovo**, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey and the United States of America.

On Friday October the 23rd, 2015, the 34th MAG Meeting was held under the Chairmanship of Ambassador Vesna Batistić-Kos, Ambassador of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Croatia to the United Nations Office in Geneva. Over the course of the meeting members heard the Director’s Interim report, as well as presentations by programme managers, the Counter – Weapons of Mass Destruction team leader, RAVIAC Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop and the head of the Admin and Finance cell.

Members adopted a programme and budget for 2016 and elected a new MAG Chairperson, Brigadier General Nazmi Cahani the Director of the Armed Forces General Staff of the Republic of Albania.

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

**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.)

09 October 2015

Conference on Foreign Terrorist Fighters – Challenges for South East Europe held in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

A conference titled Foreign Terrorist Fighters – Challenges for South East Europe was held in Sarajevo Bosnia and Herzegovina on October 7th and 8th, 2015. The event was organized in cooperation with the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

During the opening Deputy Minister of Security for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr Mijo Krešić welcomed all and underlined that the conference comes at a time that coincides with a ruling against 3 persons that fought for the so called Islamic State, an act that under law has recently become illegal in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He also noted that a terrorist event that recently took place in Zvornik, BiH has attracted significant public attention and expressed his sincere hope that the conference will contribute in efforts to prevent such acts in the future.

The head of the OSCE mission to BiH, Mr Jonathan Moore also welcomed those gathered and underlined that despite the recent terrorist act in Zvornik, BiH, life goes on there thanks to religious and social tolerance advocated by prominent members of society.

In his address, RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Branimir Mandić pointed out 5 key areas that should be addressed in preventing nationals from travelling abroad for the purpose of terrorism: stronger border controls, inter-agency cooperation and information exchange, prevention of financing for terrorist purposes, prevention of recruitment by countering the use of the internet and social media and preventing the spread of radicalism.

During the course of the event participants heard panellists elaborate on initiatives for criminalization of new criminal acts of terrorism in accordance with UNSCR 2178 and the Additional Protocol of the Council of Europe to the Convention on Prevention of Terrorism.

On the first day Mr Rajko Kozmelj, from the Chair of the EU Western Balkan Counter terrorism Initiative gave a keynote speech that was followed by a series of lectures: Ms Dolgor Solongo from the UN Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) addressing UN requirements related to FTF, challenges identified and responses supported by the UNODC; Mr Kristian Bartholin of CODEXTER spoke about the Additional Protocol of the Council of Europe to the Convention on Prevention of Terrorism; Mr Guenther Sablattnig, Advisor to UN Counter-Terrorism Coordinator addressed current challenges of the EU in combating terrorism and radicalization; and Mr Enrico Boninsegna, from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights spoke about Human rights considerations in the implementation of UNSCR 2178 (2014) and the CoE Additional Protocol.

During the afternoon of the first day and on the second day national delegations of RACVIAC member countries presented their respective countries' perspectives on best practices and current challenges in national FTF strategies and policies, as well as successful preventive actions.

The conference gained much media attention with several media houses covering the event. Here are a few excerpts from the press conference in local languages attended by Deputy Minister of Security for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr Mijo Krešić,

The head of the OSCE mission to BiH, Mr Jonathan Moore,

and RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Branimir Mandić.

30 September 2015

Croatian president Ms Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović refers to RACVIAC in her Speech to the 70th UN General Assembly

In her speech to the UN General Assembly on September 30th, 2015, Croatian President Ms. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović underlined several problems faced globally related to security. In her speech she spoke of global, regional and national aspects of actions that must be undertaken to respond to these challenges.

Among other initiatives she pointed out that the Republic of Croatia is the host nation of the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.

"Croatia is fully committed to promoting peace and stability globally, but even more so regionally. We host the regionally owned organisation RACVIAC - a Centre for Security Cooperation. This Centre has an important mission in fostering dialogue and cooperation on security matters in South-east Europe, with a focus on harmonising their norms and standards and thus facilitating their rapprochement to the EU and NATO."

An excerpt from her speech with Croatian voice over can be seen here.

See Ms Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović's entire speech in English here at 19:26.

30 September 2015

German defence attaché visits RACVIAC

The defence attaché of the Federal Republic of Germany to Croatia, Lt Col Janus Kaschta, made his inaugural visit to the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Wednesday September 30th, 2015 in the company of assistant defence attaché MSgt Stanko Zupčić.

The visit of German delegation began with an office call to RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic and Deputy Director BG Zdravko Jakop.

Following the office call a meeting was held with RACVIAC staff. Following a quick introduction the German delegation were given a briefing on the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation which was followed by a discussion.

Programme managers presented the activities within their respective pillars paying particular attention to the exceptional contribution that the Federal Republic of Germany has made to the Centre since its foundation.

Lt Col Kaschta thanked the RACVIAC staff for receiving him and briefing him on activities within the Centre noting that the Federal Republic of Germany will continue efforts to support dialogue and cooperation in the region through RACVIAC.

28 September 2015

RACVIAC representatives attend Regional Anti-corruption Initiative conference in Chisinau, Moldova

On 28 September 2015, RACVIACs’ Deputy Director, BG Zdravko Jakop and LtC Josip Mlakic, Activity Manager from the IRC Pillar, participated in a regional Conference titled „15 Years of Reforms: What Worked Best“, organized on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the Regional Anti-corruption Initiative (RAI) and National Anti-corruption Centre of the Republic of Moldova.

The conference is an opportunity to review the results of reforms on anti-corruption in South-east Europe during the past 15 years, at the same time celebrating the 15th Anniversary of the RAI.

The conference was designed as a session looking into the main barriers that policy makers from SEE encountered when designing and implementing anti-corruption reforms, providing an opportunity for participants to discuss possibilities to reduce the influence of different obstacles in implementing anti-corruption strategies and plans.

22 September 2015

C-WMD Conference begins at RACVIAC

A Counter Weapons of Mass Destruction conference titled „Developing a National WMD Counter-proliferation Strategy Senior Leadership Forum“ began at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Tuesday September 22nd 2015.

The event will focus on understanding what constitutes a national strategy for countering the proliferation of WMD. Participating countries will be introduced to potential areas of mutual cooperation with regional partners and international organizations. They will be challenged to assess their own operational capacity as they begin to draft an outline of their individual strategies, paying particular attention to human and financial resources. Important national and international legal factors for WMD counter-proliferation will be taken into consideration, and case studies will be shared to give countries a perspective on how counter-proliferation is already being conducted globally.

21 September 2015

OPCW Director General H.E. Ahmet Üzümcü visits RACVIAC

Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop (left) H.E. Ahmet Üzümcü (right) On Monday September 21st, 2015, H.E. Ahmet Üzümcü, the Director-General of the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security cooperation. H.E. Üzümcü was accompanied by OPCW Deputy Chief of Cabinet, Aamir Shouket, and members of the the Division for International Security at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia, Ms Mihaela Barić - Division head and Ms Ivana Štajcer.

The delegation was received in an office call by RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandić and Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop followed by a meeting with RACVIAC staff.

Opening the meeting with the RACVIAC staff H.E. Üzümcü noted the cooperation between his organization and the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation adding that it can be built upon to do more. He said that he was impressed with the number and scope of activities RACVIAC conducts each year.

Following a short briefing on the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop took the opportunity to describe the process of program development within RACVIAC, a process that takes into account the needs of countries in the region and is constantly refined through feedback.

Program manager Colonel Muharrem Gülcan, who heads the Cooperative Security Environment Pillar, took the opportunity to go over cooperation that his pillar has had with the OPCW to date noting also that it could be expanded. Assistant activity manager, Vedrana Djukarić added to this noting that feedback from activities conducted shows that participants would like to see more practical aspects of implementation of the Chemical Weapons Treaty.

Ms Ivana Barbara Blažević explained events taking place in development of the the C-WMD network, while also underlining possible cooperation with the OPCW.

H.E. Üzümcü then took the opportunity to provide the members of RACVIAC staff present with information regarding activities being conducted in two areas: destruction of chemical weapon stockpiles and efforts under way in Syria. He noted that in destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles progress has been significant and by 2020 99% of stockpiles will have been destroyed. Discussing Syria, H.E. Üzümcü noted that the chemical weapons program has been discontinued and production facilities destroyed while chemical weapons have been removed and mostly destroyed.

In conclusion Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop presented H.E. Üzümcü with a RACVIAC medallion and asked him to sign the guest-book.

In his entry into the guestbook OPCW Director-General, H.E. Ahmet Üzümcü wrote:

"I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to visit RACVIAC HQ. Our cooperation over the past ten years has been outstanding. I believe that we should continue to expand our joint activities which will certainly be mutually beneficial.

I wish every success in your future endeavours. Congratulations for your fifteenth anniversary."

01 July 2015

Annual Meeting of Representatives of Defence and Security Committees from SEE Parliaments ends with Joint Statement.

The Third Annual Meeting of the Representatives of Defence and Security Committees from SEE Parliaments, organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation, hosted by the Defence and Internal Affairs Committee of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, and supported by DCAF Geneva, ended successfully on Wednesday July 1st 2015 in Belgrade, Serbia. The participants adopted a set of conclusions that guided creation of a draft Joint Statement on Flood Relief Cooperation in South Eastern Europe.

Click here to download the Joint Statement.

29 June 2015

Annual Meeting of the Representatives from Defence and Security Committees from SEE Parliaments on Flood Relief begins in Belgrade Serbia.

An annual meeting of the representatives from Defence and Security Committees from SEE Parliaments began in Belgrade, Serbia on Monday June 29th, 2015. The event is being organized by the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation in partnership with The National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, and in cooperation with and support from DCAF - the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces.

Following the severe floods in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Croatia, the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Slovenia in 2014, the European Commission, together with the French Republic and the Republic of Slovenia, organised on 16th July 2014 the Donors' Conference to support the corresponding recovery efforts. One of the main conclusions of the Conference was the necessity of improving existing flood relief policies and regional coordination mechanisms. Close cooperation on these matters among the SEE countries has become imperative in order to ensure internal and cross-border action in flood mitigation management and disaster reduction and, thus, minimize the potential consequences on human security and well-being.

The main purpose of the Conference is to develop political support and identify the best steps towards effective regional policies and coordination procedures in disaster relief. The Conference aims to produce guidelines for the governments in the region regarding the following three main topics: Harmonization of the existing regional legal framework with the corresponding international (EU) legislation on disaster relief; Joint development of regional projects in building a new infrastructure for effective flood protection purposes; and Creation of mechanisms for the effective management of civil emergency procedures through cross-border cooperation.

29 June 2015

Workshop on Effective Practices in Implementation of UNSCR 1540 begins at RACVIAC

On Monday June 29th, a workshop on Effective Practices in Implementation of UNSCR 1540 began at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation. The event is being organized by RACVIAC, in cooperation with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia using funds from the UN Trust Fund for Global and Regional Disarmament Activities donated by the Governments of the Republic of Korea, the United States of America and the European Union.

Resolution 1540 (2004) stipulates that all States shall refrain from providing any form of support to non-State actors that attempt to develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery. The resolution also obliges all States, in accordance with their national procedures, to adopt and enforce appropriate effective laws, which prohibit any non-State actor to manufacture, acquire, possess, develop, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery, in particular for terrorist purposes, as well as attempts to engage in any of the foregoing activities, participate in them as an accomplice, assist or finance them.

On 20 April 2011, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1977 which extended the mandate of the 1540 Committee for a period of ten years to 2021. In Resolution 1977 (2011), Operative Paragraph 8, the Security Council encourages all States to prepare on a voluntary basis national implementation action plans, with the assistance of the 1540 Committee as appropriate, mapping out their priorities and plans for implementing the key provisions of Resolution 1540 (2004), and to submit those plans to the 1540 Committee.

During the course of the workshop participants will gain insight into various aspects of national implementation action plans through a series of panel discussions and round tables oriented toward: sharing experiences in the development and adoption of a 1540 NAP; Relevant Activities of International and Regional Organizations; Possibilities of Regional Cooperation in the Implementation of 1540 NAPs; and Lessons Learned in the Development, Adoption and Implementation of 1540 NAPs.

23 June 2015

RACVIAC Deputy Director meets with Head of International Military Cooperation at the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Serbia

Captain (naval) Milan Konjikovac (left), Bridagier General Zdravko Jakop (right). Photo source: www.mod.gov.rs The head of the department for International Military Cooperation at the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Serbia, Captain (naval)Milan Konjikovac, met with the Deputy Director of the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop on Tuesday June 23rd. During the meeting cooperation so far between the Serbian Ministry of Defence and RACVIAC was confirmed and an analysis of RACVIAC activities to date was conducted, as well as the contribution of the Serbian Ministry of Defence in the work of the Centre.

Captain (naval) Konjikovac emphasized the dedication of the Serbian Ministry of Defence to regional cooperation, as well as cooperation with RACVIAC, in which Serbia has the status of full member, being the best manner in which to preserve stability and security in the region. Furthermore, he noted that in 2015, representatives of the Ministry of Defence and other institutions in the Republic of Serbia participated in more than 15 RACVIAC activities and hosted two.

Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop underlined the important role RACVIAC plays as a regional international organization, for advancing cooperation and security on the South East European region which is reflected in its 15 years of activity, and in the adoption of its Strategy 2020 in April 2015 at the 33rd session of the Multinational Advisory Group (MAG) RACVIAC.

It was mutually concluded that Serbia is a significant factor to stability and cooperation in the region, as an active participant in all activities and meetings of MAG/RACVIAC. In this sense, the Serbian Ministry of Defence will continue the trend of good cooperation with the Centre for Security Cooperation and be a constructive partner in building trust in the region.

(Translation of article from the website of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Serbia. Click here for original article.)

08 June 2015

Orientation Course for Agreement on Sub-regional Arms Control (Dayton Article IV) begins in RACVIAC

The Dayton Article IV orientation course began at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Monday, June 8th 2015. The Course is being co-organized by the RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation, the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Serbia. It is based on the provisions of the Agreement on Sub-Regional Arms Control pursuant to the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Annex I-B, Article IV.

On 4 December 2014 Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Croatia, Montenegro and the Republic of Serbia took ownership of the Regional Arms Control, Dayton Article IV Agreement that came into force in January 2015. Eighteen years after signing the signatory states have gained full possession of regional arms control thus proving willingness for cooperation, trust and stability in the region.

In his opening address RACVIAC director Ambassador Branimir Mandić said that the Dayton Article IV orientation course represents one of the most significant RACVIAC program activities, as it directly contributes to regional stability, transparency and building trust. The course is intended to train representatives of signatory countries in roles as inspectors and acceptance teams. Furthermore the aim is also to contribute to a unified interpretation of the agreement, ensuring mutual trust and openness during conduct of inspections.

The practical part of this year’s course will be held at the ‘Boško Palkovljević – Pinki’ military barracks in Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia. It will involve a training inspection of a Declared Site, enabling the participants, previously divided into two teams, to practice roles as inspectors or escorts.

21 May 2015

8th Workshop of the South East Europe Regional Approach to Stockpile Reduction (RASR) Initiative begins in Split, Croatia

On May 21st, 2015, the 8th Workshop of the South East Europe Regional Approach to Stockpile Reduction (RASR) Initiative began in Split, Croatia under the chairmanship of the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.

The Regional Approach to Stockpile Reduction (RASR) initiative is a long-term, coordinated, regional approach to address the threats posed by excess, unstable, loosely secured or otherwise at-risk stockpiles of conventional weapons and munitions in South East Europe. RASR's ultimate goal is to contribute to regional security by working to prevent disastrous explosions and destabilizing diversions of stockpiled conventional weapons and ammunition.

The 8th RASR workshop will focus on discussions related to issues concerning weapons and ammunition stockpiles in RASR countries with the central topic: “Review of progress made and persisting PSSM challenges”. The Steering Committee Members have agreed to pursue three short presentations: (i) International Ammunition Technical Guidelines - IATG (to be presented by UNODA); (ii) a case study on a joint Albania/Montenegro ammo transport/demilitarization pilot project; (iii) a presentation by Moldova as “Observer” regarding its PSSM and demilitarization efforts.

There will also be an opportunity for each nation to update the group on progress made. Nominated government representatives will give brief presentations focusing on their country’s review of progress made and persisting PSSM challenges.

20 May 2015

Russian Defence Attaché visits RACVIAC

On Wednesday May 20th, the Defence Attaché of the Russian Federation to Croatia, Colonel Sergey Molodkov, visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation in the company of his assistant, Lt. Col Evgeny Polyakov. The Russian delegation was welcomed by RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Branimir Mandić, his deputy Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop and members of the RACVIAC staff.

Colonel Molodkov thanked those gathered for welcoming him and giving him the opportunity to visit the RACVIAV – Centre for Security Cooperation. He underlined the significance of RACVIAC for security cooperation in South East Europe and thanked the RACVIAC management for giving Russia the opportunity to participate at the Mine Action Symposium held in Biograd, Croatian in late April.

Following a brief introduction to staff members present, the Russian delegation was given a briefing on the work of the RACVAIC - Centre for Security Cooperation. This was followed by a discussion in which Programme managers spoke about the specific areas of interest within their respective pillars and the main focus of projects to be conducted. Planning and Liaison officers also spoke about their work on enhancing the work of the pillars in terms of relations with other countries and organizations.

In conclusion Colonel Molodkov thanked the staff for providing him with interesting information regarding the work of the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation wishing them all the best in the important work that they do.

The meeting was followed by an office call with Ambassador Mandić.

20 May 2015

Gender Training of the Trainers Course begins at RACVIAC

A Gender Training of the Trainers course began at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on May 20th, 2015 and will run through to May 28th. The course is a direct result of last year's successfully initiated cooperation between the Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations - Swedish Armed Forces, the Croatian Armed Forces and the RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation when an identical course was conducted for the first time.

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 lead Operations and Missions (2013) a very important recommendation to NATO and all current and future Operational Partner nations is to "train trainers on UNSCR 1325 and gender mainstreaming, with the objective of supporting on-the-job training."

In his opening address RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Branimir Mandić, said that „Fifteen years have passed since the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. This motion was seen as a small revolution, as it addressed the unique and disproportionate impact that armed conflict has on women, and recognized the undervalued and underutilized contributions women make to conflict prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution and peace building. The resolution thereby stressed the importance of equal and full participation by women as active agents in peace and security organizations. Furthermore, 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 prospective, both on the duty level and on the level of participation in Peace Support Operations. This is the reason why we are here today and in this context, this event fully supports the described vision“.

Addressing those gathered Col Gordana Garašić, the head of the Croatian Armed Forces General Staff J1 department, noted that „When we speak about gender integration we usually ralk about military operations and societies that are exposed to the consequences of armed conflicts, that are developing and where democracy and respect for human rights are still endangered, but we also should look around us and seek what we can do better. The NATO/EAPC Action Plan for Implementation of the NATO/EAPC Policy on Women, Peace and Security starts with the outcome: reduced barriers for the active and meaningful participation of women in NATO's, Allies' and partners' defence and security institutions, and within NATO-led operations.“

The course will prepare instructors and trainers to plan and conduct pre-deployment training and education for troops, units and officers on gender perspectives in military operations. The course content is applicable in both national and international training and education for armed forces and defence organizations and will provide the participants with knowledge on how to integrate the gender perspective in mission specific training as well as national basic training. It will also prepare instructors and trainers to plan and conduct effective and efficient training on how to integrate the gender perspective in military operations within the trainers' respective ordinary field of experience.

18 May 2015

International Meeting on Effectiveness of Anti-corruption Measures Begins in Zagreb, Croatia

An international meeting titled „Effectiveness of Anti-corruption Measures,“ hosted by the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Croatia, began in Zagreb on May 18th, 2015 under the co-organization of the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, the OECD Anti-Corruption Network for Eastern Europe and Central Asia and the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative. The meeting is a follow up to the Conference on that was held in Skopje in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* on November 25th, 2014.

The main purpose of the meeting is to share best practices and experiences in monitoring the implementation of anti-corruption strategies by the countries in SEE while maintaining the progress and success achieved by each country and initiating concrete efforts to enhance regional cooperation.

In his welcome speech, RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandić said that RACVIAC in cooperation with the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative and the Ministry of Justice of MK, on November 25th, 2014, organised in Skopje, the Regional Conference on an expert level entitled “Trends and Challenges in Implementing Anti-Corruption Strategies.”

He added that the outcomes of the conference included recommendations for successful implementation and enhancement of Anti-Corruption Strategies and Action Plans. „We agreed then, that the political will is an important precondition when it comes to the implementation of a National Anti-Corruption Strategy. We also agreed that there is space for improving of existing monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. During this two day event, in addition to discussion on other topics, we expect a fruitful discussion regarding a Methodology on Monitoring and Evaluation of the Implementation of National Anti-corruption Strategies and Action Plans, which will support improving evaluation mechanisms, and the effectiveness of corruption prevention measures.

The event is being attended by over 90 officials from various ministries in their respective countries as well as representatives of international and non-government organizations. Over the course of the two day meeting five sessions will be held that include: a platform for decision-makers to present main achievements and remaining challenges in the area of prevention of corruption in South Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia; international tools to monitor anti-corruption strategies, such as the Methodology for Monitoring and Evaluation of Implementation of National Anti-corruption Strategies and Action Plans developed by the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative; tackling corruption in specific sectors or institutions and assessment of laws or draft bills for corruption risks contained within them.

As an outcome it is expected that a joint declaration declaration will be signed as well as a commitment to work actively on improving the capacities of the anti-corruption institutions (the legislative and institutional framework), and recommendations should be adopted for with a focus on reaching a Conference Conclusion on the need to improve the effectiveness of corruption prevention measures.

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

13 May 2015

The workshop titled „Building a Cyber Resilient Society in SEE“ started in Ohrid on 13 May

This event is a continuation in a series of events dedicated to the topic of cyber security organized by the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation in cooperation with partners. One of the objectives of this event is to use recent events as a starting point to create a platform for a more appropriate approach to cyber security in South Eastern Europe. The platform that will help countries of the South Eastern European region to build cyber resilient societies and also to be able to use this platform for further improvement and adjustment in the spirit of regional and border cooperation. .

In their opening remarks Deputy minister of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Ms Dragana Kiprijanovska, RACVIAC director Ambassador Branimir Mandić, and the Dean of the Military Academy “General Mihailo Apostolski”-Skopje Colonel Orce Popovski welcomed all distingiused lectureres and expetrs from the countries of the South Eastern European region who, by their presence here support the event.

22 April 2015

33rd Meeting of the Multinational Advisory Group held at RACVIAC

The 33nd Financial and Multinational Advisory Group (MAG ) meetings were held at the RACVIAC – Centre for security Cooperation on April 21st and 22nd, 2015, under the chairmanship of Ms Vesna Batistić Kos, Assistant Minister of Foreign and European affairs at the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.

Ms Batistić Kos congratulated RACVIAC for 15 years of work in strengthening security cooperation in South East Europe and noted that it was an honour for Croatia to be the host of such a unique organization. She underlined that Croatia supports the modernization of RACVIAC in accordance with modern security challenges as well as the interests and needs of the member states.

During the meetings representatives were provided with latest information regarding the work of the Centre, including a financial report and a report on the status of manpower. Several regulatory documents were adopted as well as a Strategy for the period until 2020.

Representatives also chose a successor for the position of Director currently being filled by Ambassador Branimir Mandić from Bosnia and Herzegovina. As of October 2015 the new director of RACVIAC will be Ambassador Mr. Haydar Berk of Turkey.

21 April 2015

Proliferation Security Initiative, Table-Top Exercise held at RACVIAC

The Proliferation Security Initiative Table-Top Exercise was held at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation from April 15th to 17th, 2015.

This was the first event organised within the newly MAG-approved project of the C-WMD Network in RACVIAC whose aim is to facilitate the development or refinement of Countering WMD national strategies and action plans with willing partners in South East Europe.

The C-WMD Network welcomes the support provided by US EUCOM in the planning and execution of the Proliferation Security Initiative event in implementing the project. PSI has a long history in supporting cooperation in the field of counter-proliferation.

The 2015 Table-Top Exercise was a continuation of the successful PSI TTX held in Zagreb in 2013, where participants highlighted the need for developing a legal framework to foster coordination and interoperability among partners and within nations. They concluded that the best way to strengthen security is by enhancing national measures and cooperating at the regional level. RACVIAC proposes to conduct three events per year to assist nations within South East Europe develop their strategies and action plans.

The event was covered by SSgt Ashley Corkins for the American Forces Network.

13 April 2015

CSCM: World Congress on CBRNe Science & Consequence Management begins in Zagreb

The CSCM: World Congress on CBRNe Science and Consequence Management began at the Hotel Westin in Zagreb today and will run through to Friday April 17th, 2015. The RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation is a co-organizer of the event.

The Congress will explore the scientific, technical, medical, policy, and consequence management aspects, as well as the effects of CBRNe threats on communities and the individual in addition to each layer of infrastructure and government echelon. It will build on the base of knowledge established throughout the first six World Congresses on the CBRNe threat beginning with the prophetic first meeting in April 2001. In that meeting information was provided from professionals charged with the task of responding immediately to crisis conditions.

The 2015 Congress continues the tradition from fourteen previous Congresses held under the prior rubric, “CBMTS series.” Those meetings collectively involved the participation of nearly 2,000 high-ranking scientists and professionals from the fields of medicine, toxicology, biochemical sciences, physics and bio-technology as well as the military from nearly 50 countries involved in preventing the spread of knowledge and technology concerning weapons of mass destruction. Topics have included: approaches, methodologies, and systems of detection, identification of CBRN substances, personal and collective protection, decontamination, evaluation of possible consequences, and medical treatment in the event of a CBRNe threat and/or occurrence.

In his opening address RACVIAC Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop said “We as RACVIAC, organize several activities annually related to: the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540 and we have started a new project: a Counter-WMD Network, together with US EUCOM that will commence parallel to this congress in RACVIAC.

This only proves that topics related to CBRN issues are not only interesting, but necessary to be discussed in the region, and beyond. This is why representatives from throughout the world are attending today’s congress. I hope that this Congress will serve as a platform for sharing your honest opinions, fresh ideas and experiences, giving thus additional substance to the proceedings”.

In conclusion Brigadier General Jakop noted RACVIAC and its partners will continue promoting topics connected with CBRN in all appropriate international and regional forums as well as bilateral communications.

09 April 2015

3rd Seminar on Private (Military) Security Companies begins at RACVIAC

The 3rd seminar on Civil Military Relations dedicated to Private (Military) Security Companies (P(M)SC) began on Thursday April 9th, 2015, at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation. The event is being organized in cooperation with the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF).

The main purpose for the seminar is the need to continue reviewing and analysing new developments concerning the phenomenon of the changing nature of Civil Military Relations as a result of the ongoing privatisation process in this increasingly important part of the Security Sector. An additional reason is the interest of the participants expressed during the last Seminar on P(M)SC II, which took place in RACVIAC in April 2014, to continue exchanging information among the interested public in the SEE region.

The main objectives of the seminar are to support the promotion and implementation of the standards of the democratic control of the armed forces and to support the implementation of the new EU Directive on Public Procurement from April 2014 in SEE.

Over the course of the next two days participants will hear lectures and engage in discussions on several issues grouped into three sessions: Current Trends and Challenges in the P(M)S Sector, Critical Infrastructure Protection as well as International, Regional and National Good Practices in P(M)SC Regulation.

08 April 2015

Chemical Weapons Convention Seminar Begins in RACVIAC

A Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) Seminar began at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Wednesday April 8th. The event is being organized in cooperation with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandić opened the event noting that is a continuation of a fruitful cooperation between RACVIAC and OPCW in promoting the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention in South East Europe (SEE). „The CWC workshop represents one of the most important annual activities of our organization, and this year we are delighted to host this workshop for the twelfth time. It is needless to stress that this event is fully endorsed by the member countries of RACVIAC, said Ambassador Mandić.

In his opening address Mr Danilo Campisi, the Legal Officer at the OPCW Implementation Support Branch read a letter from the Director-General of the OPCW, H.E. Mr Ahmet Üzümcü.

OPCW Director General's Letter to the Chemical Weapons Convention Seminar.

The purpose of the seminar is to discuss relevant issues related to the CWC and provide a broad overview of the CWC implementation procedures with specific focus on legislative aspects and requirements as well as administrative and regulatory measures in implementing the Convention. This year the main focus will be put on the legislative aspects and requirements of implementing the Convention, in particular on the administrative/regulatory measures that govern the actions of customs authorities and their role vis-á-vis the implementation of the Convention.

The event can be closely tied to a chain of conferences and seminars, consisting of the large scale CBRN - Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear - congress (officially: WORLD CONGRESS ON CBRNe SCIENCE & CONSEQUENCE MANAGEMENT), to be held in Hotel Westin, in the Zagreb city centre and the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) event, organized by the US government and supported by RACVIAC.

16 March 2015

Physical Security and Stockpile Management Workshop begins at RACVIAC

The Physical Security and Stockpile Management began at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Monday March 16th, 2015. The event is being organized 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.

Surplus of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) and Conventional Ammunition (CA) that exceeded its shelf life presents a continual threat to people, the environment and overall security. In 2014, together 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, RACVIAC organised a workshop that dealt with experiences and pressing issues in Physical Security and Stockpile Management (PSSM).

The 2015 workshop will be based on advancements and suggestions made during the previous event. While the 2014 workshop strove to indicate the elements of PSSM and evaluate the directions in which the countries of the region were heading, the 2015 workshop will be more oriented towards PSSM capacity building.

In this regard, the workshop will evaluate possibilities of regional cooperation and the formation of a network comprised of experts in the field. Through this type of cooperation countries will not only be able to discuss individual issues and solutions in capacity building, but also provide training assistance to each other by using RACVIAC as a joint platform.

In addition to the theoretical component of the workshop the one day practical part will include a visit to a Croatian storage site.

In his opening address RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandić said that RACVIAC has the intention to establish an expert data base and a forum where all experts on PSSM in the SEE region may hold discussions but also a place where help and advice can be provided on this issue. RACVIAC would, thus, like to show its readiness to concentrate on the topic of PSSM not only during a workshop once a year but, rather, all year round.

12 March 2015

Defence Resources Management Seminar „Transition of Military Education Systems in SEE II“ begins in Maribor, Slovenia.

Left to right: SSR Programme Manager Mr Branko Kormar, RACVIAC Deputy Director Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop and RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandić The Defence Resources Management: “Transition of Military Education Systems in SEE II“ seminar began at the Slovenian Armed Forces, Military School Centre, “Kadetnica” in Maribor on Wednesday March 11th, 2015. The event is being held in cooperation with the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Slovenia.

The main purpose of this second seminar on the Transition of Military Education Systems in SEE, is to address the different aspects of the evolving process of military professionalization and its impact on civil-military relations in the past, present and future.

The main seminar objectives are to update on: Changes in CMR in the last two decades, the Euro-Atlantic integration process and impact on the Military; military professionalization versus the conscript system; contemporary challenges in military education in the world and the ways to resolve them - national examples in SEE; integration of military education systems in the public sphere; Maribor Mayor Mr. Andrej Fištravec (left) RACVIAC Deputy Director Brigadier General Zadravko Jakop (right)the Bologna Process – between theory and reality; legal aspects of the status of the professional military and impacts on the educational system; the way ahead, future perspectives for military education and challenges in the 21st century.

25 February 2015

Slovenian delegation visits RACVIAC

On Wednesday February 25th, 2015, a Slovenian delegation visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation consisting of Mr Primož Koštrica, Minister Counsellor at the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia in the Republic of Croatia, Colonel Aleksander Murko, the Defence Attaché Non-Residential at the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia to the Republic of Croatia and Ms Melita Šinkovec, point of contact for RACVIAC at the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Slovenia.

The guests were greeted by RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Branimir Mandić in his office followed by a meeting with the RACVIAC staff.

Following a brief introduction to the RACVIAC staff and a presentation on the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation, RACVIAC Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop informed the guests of various aspects of the RACVIAC programme and challenges the Centre is facing in terms of manpower. General Jakop thanked the Slovenian delegation for support provided by the Republic of Slovenia in terms of providing a Programme Manager, Mr Branko Kromar, in the Security Sector Reform pillar, adding that he hoped such support would continue in the future. He also thanked the Republic of Slovenia for hosting RACVIAC activities, in particular the seminar on Transition of the Military Education Systems in South East Europe to be held in Maribor at the beginning of March.

The floor was then given to Programme Managers who provided the guests with an overview of activities within their respective pillars for 2015/16.

The RACVIAC Planning and Liaison Officers informed the guests of their work in enhancing the work of the pillars and activities being conducted under the Programme Development Group.

In conclusion Director Madnić expressed hope that the Republic of Slovenia would sign the agreement on RACVIAC in the future and said he would officially visit their ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence to invite them to do so.

24 February 2015

Open Skies Ariel Observation Course begins at RACVIAC

The Open Skies Ariel Observation Course began at the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Tuesday, February 24th, 2015. The course is being organized with the sponsorship of the Federal Republic of Germany, in cooperation with the Croatian Verification Centre and with the generous provision of an aircraft for the practical part by Hungary, one of the two depositors of the Open Skies Treaty itself.

The course is one of the RACVIAC's most recognizable events, attracting participants from the members states and beyond as it is the only course of it's kind in the region.

The purpose of the course is to train personnel from South East European countries to plan, organize and execute an Aerial Observation Mission based on the provisions of the Open Skies Treaty (OST) and thus increase the administrative capacity in the field of security cooperation.

In his opening address RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Branimir Mandic said: „The Open Skies Treaty is one of the most important tools in confidence building worldwide. Our region is also a part of this and most of the countries are members of the Open Skies Treaty and benefit from it. We are privileged to have with us today specialists as lecturers from the verification centres of the Federal Republic of Germany, Hungary, Republic of Italy and Republic of Turkey, who stand ready to share their experience and knowledge.“

Over the next ten days participants will undergo training in two phases: a theoretical part to be held on the premises of the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation where participants will be provided with a comprehensive and detailed overview of the relevant parts of the OST and a practical part to be held at the Croatian 91st Airbase in Zagreb which will include an Ariel Observation Mission to be planned and carried out over the territory of the Republic of Croatia using the AN-26 aircraft provided by Hungary.

12 February 2015

Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Croatia Visits RACVIAC

RACVIAC Director Ambassador Branimir Mandić (left), H.E. Ellen Berends Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Republic of Croatia (right) On Thursday February 12th 2015, H.E. Ellen Berends, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Republic of Croatia visited the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation in the company of the Netherlands defence attaché LtCol Joss van Rossem.

The delegation began their visit with an office call to RACVIAC Director, Ambassador Branimir Mandić, followed by a meeting with the RACVIAC staff.

Following a short introduction to the RACVIAC staff present and a briefing on the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation Director Mandić informed the visitors of details regarding the RACVIAC Strategy 2020 that is currently under development and will be presented at celebrations marking RACVIAC’s 15th anniversary in October. Director Mandić noted that it will be a readable and usable strategy that will implement a project oriented approach to activities where each pillar in RACVIAC will manage about 5 projects each. He added that some aspects of the Strategy are already being implemented.

Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop them provided the guests with an overview of operations at RACVIAC themselves touching upon the long-term partnership the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation has had with the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Brigadier General Jakop also touched upon various challenges facing the Centre regarding manpower and pointed out the great help provided by volunteers and interns.

The floor was then given to programme managers who informed the guests of activities and projects under way within their respective pillars.

Signing the RACVIAC guest-book, H.E. Ellen Berends said that she and the defence attaché greatly appreciated the information provided to them during their visit and looked forward to working with the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation in the future.

10 February 2015

Border Security and Management Course Begins at RACVIAC

A Border Security and Management Course titled „Examination and Detection at the Border – Persons, Cargoes and Vehicles“ began at RACVIAC on Monday February 9th, 2015.

The course is being conducted in cooperation with the OSCE Border Security and Management Unit with the generous help of lecturer Mr Jonathan Trumble the Customs Adviser at the OSCE Transnational Threats Department of the Border Security and Management Unit.

The course is a continuation of the border security and management event series jointly organized by RACVIAC and its partners, focusing on strengthening capacity-building and EU integration processes. As such, they are contributing to the South East European Region through the provision of education and training and thus improving the security situation in the region.

In his opening address RACVIAC Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop greeted the participants noting that the assembly of operational level professionals can provide an opportunity to refresh and sustain a highly specific professional network that by its nature has a great potential to indirectly increase the level of regional border security itself. „You are a truly distinguished group of experts and, besides gaining expertise, this training course is a unique example of a networking process. Please, do not hesitate to use this and enrich your personal competences while helping us to improve our own capabilities and programme execution efficiency,“ said General Jakop.

In his opening address Mr Trumble said that RACVIAC is an exceptional institution and conveyed greetings from the OSCE Transnational Threats Department, the Secretary General and the 2015 Chairmanship in Office occupied by the Republic of Serbia.

Over the course of the week participants will hear several lectures and take part in a number of physical exercises that include searches of an auto-mobile, passenger bus and a cargo truck.

04 February 2015

MARRI delegation visits RACVIAC

On Wednesday, February 04th 2015, a MARRI Regional Centre delegation headed by Director Mr Trpe Stojanovski visited the RACVIAC – Centre for security Cooperation in the company of Mr Slavko Dragan Petrović, State Official of the Republic of Serbia in MARRI.

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

Both, Ambassador Mandić and Mr. Stojanovski underlined the significance and importance of the active cooperation between two organizations which, by mutually supporting each other in the fulfilment of joint missions, contribute to security in the SEE region. The last jointly organized event in December 2014, related to “Regional Cooperation for a Better Response to the Trafficking in Human Beings in SEE”, was the best possible proof of such successful cooperation.

Representatives from MARRI and RACVIAC, during the meeting discussed matters of common interest for the purpose of realizing common objectives and facilitating future activities.

23 January 2015

RACVIAC Delegation Headed by Director Ambassador Branimir Mandic visits Hungary

In the foreground: Ambassador Branimir Mandic, Mr István Balogh, Mr Erik Baktai and Mr Miklós Tamás Hantai ; In the background: Mr Pál Bódogh-Szabó, Col Franz Gaugl. A RACVIAC delegation consisting of Director Ambassador Branimir Mandić, Planning and Liaison officer Col Franz Gaugl and Activity Manager Mr Pál Bódogh-Szabó visited held a series of meetings in Budapest, Hungary from January 21st to 23rd, 2014.

On the first day Director Mandić met with Ambassador Istvan Gyarmati the president of ICDT. During the meeting, which included a working dinner, the Director provided a general overview of the recent activities in connection to the organization of the fast approaching 15th anniversary of RACVIAC, and the plan to have an MoU signed with ICDT. Mr Gyarmati agreed and suggested making steps in the direction of preparatory activities. On the other hand he informed the members of the delegation about his views on the recent political events in and outside of Hungary.

On the 22nd the RACVIAC delegation met with Ambassador Imre Varga, the General Secretary of the Hungarian-Serbian Business Council and a former ambassador of Hungary in Belgrade. Ambassador Varga welcomed the plan for the signing of an MoU between ICDT and RACVIAC. As an expert on the SEE region, he outlined the commercial steps being taken and emphasized the importance of the appearance of Chinese capital and the plans to build a high capacity railway line between Thessaloniki and Budapest. He supported the idea of closer contacts between ICDT and RACVIAC, with ICDT providing lecturers and organizing events.

The delegation next met with Mr Istvan Balogh, PhD, the Head of the Deartment for Security Policy at the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During the meeting Director Mandic provided a general overview of the recent activities concerning the organization of the approaching 15th anniversary of RACVIAC and the plan to have an MoU signed with ICDT. Mr Balogh highlighted the broadened portfolio of his department, where he began his service only several months ago. He agreed to sign an MoU with ICDT. Mr Balogh was very well informed about RACVIAC activities and acknowledged the necessity to have greater visibility from the point of the organization. He was informed by the Director about the intention to invite defence and foreign ministers to the anniversary conference due to be held on 20th October 2015.

Mr Péter Siklósi (left), Ambassador Branimir Mandic (right).On the final day of their visit the RACVIAC delegation met with Mr Peter Siklosi, Deputy State Secretary for Defence Policy and Planning at the Hungarian MoD. At the meeting they agreed on the importance of future joint work. Mr Siklósi confirmed Hungary's intention to continue supporting RACVIAC by contributions in kind and by providing an Activity Manager to its foreign staff. He reiterated that the most important activities, such as the Open Skies and Vienna Document courses will be suppported by the Hungarian MoD in the future.

29 January 2015

Meeting of MAG Points of Contact held at RACVIAC

A meeting of Points of Contact (POCs) from member countries of the RACVIAC Multi-National Advisory Group (MAG) was held in RACVIAC on January 29th, 2014.

RACVIAC Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop, welcomed the POCs at the opening of the meeting noting that it has a rich agenda and that he greatly appreciates the input and support of the representatives present.

The meeting began with a presentation by the RACVIAC programme managers, Lt Col Muhareem Gulcan (Cooperative Security Environment), Mr Iljmi Selami (International and Regional Cooperation) and Mr Branko Kromar (Security Sector Reform), providing information on activities within each of their respective pillars for 2015. Input was given by participants regarding specific aspects of participation by their respective countries and organizations.

Ms Ivana Barbara Blažević, from the Croatian MoD, presented the CWMD project being developed with facilitation by RACVIAC. She went over developments that have already taken place under the project and presented a roadmap for the future that was approved at the 31st MAG meeting.

RACVIAC Deputy Director, Brigadier General Zdravko Jakop gave the next presentation with an overview of the personnel situation in RACVIAC. General Jakop provided information on seconded staff currently at RACVIAC, local staff, volunteers and interns, as well as vacant positions within the manpower table. He pointed out that it was essential for member countries to second staff to the RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation.

During the afternoon the POCs also heard presentations on the financial situation, whereby special emphasis was placed on the Programme Part of the Budget for 2015, and on the first draft of the revised SOP.

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