50th MAG Meeting held in RACVIAC

The 50th Meeting of the RACVIAC Steering body MAG, Multinational Advisory Group, which gathered the representatives of Members and Associate Members, took place on 12th October 2023 in RACVIAC.

The Meeting was organized under the chairmanship of Serbia and was chaired by  Colonel Nebojša Svjetlica, MAG Chairperson, Head of International Military Cooperation Department in the Ministry of Defence of Serbia.

After the Opening and Adoption of the Agenda, RACVIAC Director H.E. Ambassador Constantin – Mihail Grigorie gave a brief presentation on the Director’s Interim Report and thanked all MAG countries, International organizations, other participants and partners for outstanding support and cooperation: “I want to express my deepest gratitude to all of you for your unwavering dedication, your tireless efforts, and your commitment to our Organization.”

He pointed out that he is deeply honored to stand in front of MAG POCs and address them for the first time in his new capacity as the Director of RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation and he looked back on the past year: “In 2023 we continued to provide support to the region in the process of implementation of relevant treaties and instruments by means of supporting the development of national policies and strategies and their implementation plans. Strengthening national and regional defence and security capacities in key sectors, as well as the EU requirements in achieving the goal of full membership in European and Euro-Atlantic structures is the best way to preserve stability and security in the region.”

H.E. Ambassador Constantin – Mihail Grigorie also emphasized that RACVIAC and its staff have managed to carry out all of the tasks set before them by the MAG and fulfilled RACVIAC mission: “Thus, in terms of Programme implementation, until today we executed 14 activities, covering the implementation of topics outlined in RACVIAC Strategy 2021-2026 in our four areas of interest.”

He then praised the efforts put in the organisation of new long-term projects in line with RACVIAC Strategic goals and Programme guidelines 2021-2026. Through these projects RACVIAC intends to continue supporting its Members in the face of the most emergent threats to regional security. “In that regard, US DOE has extended the contract, offering us their support for “Advancing Nuclear Security in SEE” project until the end of 2025. Furthermore, RACVIAC and University of Split, Department for Forensic Sciences, have developed a five-year Project titled “Improving Security Governance through Implementation of Forensic Science in State Institutions and Agencies”, he stressed.

RACVIAC efforts as an important international organization in SEE in further strengthening and enhancing regional cooperation were also welcomed in the Joint Statements of the DCHODs (Deputy Chiefs of Defence) during the 2023 SEDM Meeting held in Rome, Italy. More precisely, RACVIAC has been invited to participate in the SEDM Ministerial Meeting, which is taking place at the end of November in Ankara. Another significant way of expanding the visibility of RACVIAC is the participation in the DECI (Defence Cooperation Initiative) meeting held in Zagreb where there was an opportunity to present RACVIAC work and engage in bilateral talks for the purpose of increasing involvement and contribution of DECI members in the activities of RACVIAC.

RACVIAC Director also used the opportunity to thank the previous Deputy, Major General Slaven Zdilar, for his dedicated work and enthusiasm invested in the preparation of RACVIAC projects and presented him with a certificate of appreciation. Later on he wished a warm welcome to his successor Rear Admiral Predrag Stipanović, whose rich experience in previous positions will undoubtedly be of added value to RACVIAC. “Let’s not forget the other permanent representatives of RACVIAC staff, who have tirelessly worked behind the scenes to make RACVIAC vision a reality”, he added.

Ambassador Grigore thanked all RACVIAC Members who have their representatives in RACVIAC, as well as Hungary, Associate Member, represented with its secondee working as a member of its staff as well as the host country, Republic of Croatia, for having the largest representation in its staff and providing exceptional support in terms of infrastructure and all other forms of assistance.

He concluded important points of his Interim Report with the following words: “Together we have achieved much, and I am confident that our collective efforts will continue to make a positive impact on regional and global security. I assure you that I will continue to do my best in order that this Centre, which has a vital place in the region, continues to successfully carry out its tasks and mission. I encourage all of you to actively participate in our discussions, share your insights, and engage in constructive dialogue. The strength of RACVIAC lies in the diversity of perspectives and the willingness of our Members, as well as our Associate Members, Observers and participants to work together for the common good.”

Pursuant to the Meeting Agenda, RACVIAC Programme Managers presented the Programme for 2024. This session was aimed at providing detailed information about the proposed Programme for 2024.

Furthermore, Lieutenant Colonel Tihana Kunák Koršić, RACVIAC Operations Manager, provided information on the implementation of the organizational structure and gave a brief overview of the current RACVIAC personnel situation.

In addition, Mr Tin Ključarić, Chief of Admin & Finance, presented detailed information on RACVIAC Budget for 2023 as well as the draft Budget plan for 2024. Budget projections for 2025-2026 and a New Travel Policy were also presented.

Following this presentation Col Nebojša Svjetlica emphasized that staffing RACVIAC with qualified personnel is the key to success and reminded that MAG considered this to be a responsibility of its highest consideration and that the “principle of regional ownership” shall be reflected in a regionally balanced staffing of RACVIAC. “Accordingly, all Members shall be represented in RACVIAC with at least one individual”, he concluded.

The topic of the nomination of the new MAG Chairperson for the period 2023/2024 was tackled. With regard to the 34th MAG Conclusions on the alphabetical order principle for Members in the nomination procedure for the MAG Chairperson the Republic of Türkiye was invited to send information on its nominee for this position. Thus, MAG Secretariat received a nomination from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Türkiye wherein Ambassador İlhan Saygılıis, Director General for the Balkans and Central Europe, is being nominated for the position of MAG during the next twelve months.

Mr Svjetlica congratulated Ambassador Saygılıis on assuming MAG Chairmanship, the second MAG Chairmanship for Türkiye and closed the 50th MAG Meeting thanking all the participants for their engagement and contribution.

MAG expressed its gratitude to Serbia for the excellent job done during the MAG Chairmanship during the last twelve months as well as to Mr Svjetlica for her exceptional performance as the MAG Chairperson during the last two MAG Meetings.

Following the Adoption of Conclusions, RACVIAC Director gave a crystal plaque to Colonel Nebojša Svjetlica as a sign of gratitude for his Chairmanship of the MAG in 2022/2023. Col Svjetlica presented RACVIAC Director with a plaque of appreciation of the Republic of Serbia.

The next MAG Meeting will be held in the Republic of Türkiye in April 2024. The Republic of Türkiye will consider the proposed date and confirm the exact date and venue of the next MAG Meeting in due course of time.