News 2019

12 November 2019

Workshop on Foreign Terrorist Fighters

The fifth “Workshop on Developing Strategies on Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Foreign Terrorist Fighters” was taking place in RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation on 12 November 2019.

This event was a continuation of a series of activities organized previously by RACVIAC, in cooperation with the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Regional Cooperation Council, and takes into consideration the conclusions from previous events, as well as the recommendations of the Annual OSCE-wide Counter-Terrorism Conference held in Bratislava in March 2019, whose specific focus was the subject of return of foreign terrorist fighters (FTF), the need for the implementation of UNSCR 2395 and 2396 and to raise awareness and share the best practices regarding this burning challenge.

The main aim of this Workshop was to assess the existing policies, programs and actors on the national, regional and international level as well as to discuss the challenges in relation to the role of civil society organizations, religious community, youth, and education system in the rehabilitation and reintegration of returnees and their family members into their community during and after judicial proceedings, while respecting international human rights law that guarantees the right to privacy.

The Workshop also aimed to promote coherence and the identification of synergies between International and regional organizations, to explore the countries’ specific needs in developing appropriate policies and programs, to further encourage the confidence between governmental and civil society organizations and to discuss and get proposals for drawing up an action plan with concrete ideas and activities that need to be implemented in the future.

Opening the Workshop RACVIAC Deputy Director, BG Gordana Garašić, said: “RACVIAC has continued to focus on this issue within the framework of our overall counter-terrorism efforts, together with our partners, the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the RCC. In accordance with RACVIAC mission to foster dialogue and cooperation on security matters in SEE we see this Workshop as an excellent opportunity to further coordinate efforts in this field and to promote this issue through the exchange of experiences and sharing of information.” She continued by saying: “The close regional and wider cooperation among SEE countries through dialogue and various forms of coordination is a strong response to todays’ challenges to security policy, leading to building of confidence and security among the countries and development of synergy among the activity participants. The purpose of this event is to further encourage confidence between governments and civil society organizations in establishing an active and two-way dialogue. This will help build trust and understanding. Also, the idea is to debate perspectives in violent extremism and ensure the effective rehabilitation and reintegration of returning FTFs and their family members. We are confident that this will enable a continuation of open expert debates on common challenges in the context of this issue”, concluded BG Garašić.

Speaking on behalf of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dr Susan E. Penksa, Head of the Department for Security Co-operation, said: “Successful strategies for rehabilitation and reintegration of returning FTFs will require new efforts for inter-agency and multi-sectoral co-operation. These initiatives should be sustainable and inclusive, and so they will need to utilize the valuable expertise of the education, healthcare and social protection sectors, as well as civil society, religious communities and youth. And, in order to be effective and cause no harm, the measures contained in such strategies need to be both age and gender-sensitive, and consistent with international and domestic laws”.

Ms Jorida Shytaj, Political Advisor in the Regional Cooperation Council, said: “Developing policies to counter the challenges faced in the rehabilitation and reintegration of FTFs requires resilient national institutions capable of anticipating the future developments, backed by strong regional coordination and cooperation mechanisms. A regional approach can be highly beneficial in assisting the plans of rehabilitation and reintegration into the local communities especially of the returning family members, children included, who are most vulnerable to radicalization and discrimination. Regional Cooperation Council is committed to working with all relevant regional and international partners and to support any regional initiative that aims to develop regional multi sectoral approaches and sustainable holistic strategies for rehabilitation and reintegration of FTF and their family members“, Ms Shytaj underlined.

Speaking on behalf of the German Embassy to Croatia LTC (GS) Dirk Bocklet, Defence Attaché to the Republic of Croatia, provided some statistics and talked about the challenges concerning FTF and returnees in Germany underlining that this topic requires a comprehensive approach not only on the national but regional level too, adequate strategy as well as cooperation, coordination and attention of all of us.

The Workshop gathered government representatives from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey and Kosovo*, as well as civil society, International organizations, academia, media and the religious community representatives such as OSCE Mission to BA, Regional Cooperation Council, UNODC, EUROPOL, Cyber Security, Corporate Security and Crisis Management Initiative from North Macedonia, University College Bedër from Albania, University of Political Science from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Safety House, Netherland.

This one day Workshop consisted of four sessions that addressed specific areas related to the topic.

On the margins of the Workshop a meeting was held with Dr Susan E. Penksa, Head of the Department for Security Co-operation of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to share and discuss more detailed aspects of deepening future cooperation between OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina and RACVIAC thus contributing to safety and security in the South East European region and beyond.

* 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.

07 November 2019

RACVIAC MTT conducted the 1st GToT Course for the Portuguese Army

The RACVIAC Mobile Training Team (MTT) conducted the first “Gender Training of the Trainers Course” for the Portuguese Armed Forces in Lisbon on 17-31 October 2019.

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 integration of the gender perspective, 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”.

In line with the abovementioned NATO recommendation and realizing that the integration of the gender perspective is a valuable tool in order to increase operational effectiveness at home or abroad, the Portuguese Armed Forces General Staff requested from RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation to prepare and organize the “Gender Training of the Trainers Course” for their armed forces officers.

The purpose of the Course was to provide participants with the knowledge about international frameworks and guidelines in regulating gender in military operations and missions as well as skills and competencies required to effectively plan, conduct and evaluate the training of military personnel in both the national and international context.

This event was an indirect result of a series of activities launched in 2013 aimed at promotion of gender equality policies and equal opportunities in the security sector that RACVIAC is organizing in partnership with the Nordic Centre of Gender in Military Operations (NCGM) and the Croatian Armed Forces. This series of annual activities yielded the gender trainers’ pool of forces in the SEE region.

For the purpose of this specific Course RACVIAC MTT consisted of trainers coming from Bosnia and Herzegovina (Col Fahir Žilić), Croatia (LtC Dalibor Mesić, Cpt Robert Karaman), North Macedonia (LtC Strašo Stojčevski) and the Centre itself (Maj Marija Čičak). The MTT was led by Col Boženko Đevoić, Dean of the Croatian Military Academy.

As far as the Portuguese counterparts go their team consisted of Maj Diana Morais, Gender Advisor at the Army General Staff and Chair-elect of the NATO Committee on Gender Perspectives, who was in charge of the overall Course direction. The Portuguese Military Academy through its Erasmus office and Centre for Research, Development and Innovation (CINAMIL) provided invaluable logistical and administrative support that ensured the smooth management of the event.

This two-week event was held on the Military Academy premises and was opened by MajGen João Vieria Borges, Commandant of the Military Academy. The Course gathered 21 participants from all three branches of the Portuguese Armed Forces, the Army, Air force and Navy. Prior to their arrival the students were obliged to complete the NATO "ADL 169" online Course, "Improving Operational Effectiveness by Integrating the Gender Perspective". Hence they arrived with a common level of knowledge about the subject matter.

The Course Schedule was based on the RACVIAC resident GToT Course as a 10-day training event designed as a combination of lectures, corresponding individual and syndicate work, followed by a practical outdoor exercise and the final exam.

At the end all participants successfully completed the Course thus confirming their skills and competencies as gender instructors and trainers.

This particular training activity was an excellent example of high level of cooperation and support achieved between RACVIAC and its Members States in utilizing mutual resources, capacities and knowledge in order to train, coach and mentor other institutions or organizations.

05 November 2019

Annual Meeting of the Representatives of Defence and Security Committees starts in Tirana

A two-day Annual Meeting of the Representatives of Defence and Security Committees from SEE Parliaments started in Tirana, Albania today.

The Meeting, organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation in partnership with DCAF - Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance and the National Security Committee of the Assembly of Albania, is a continuation of a series of Annual Meetings of the Representatives of Defence and Security Committees launched by RACVIAC in 2013, aimed at promotion of parliamentary oversight and sharing the experiences and practices of the regional parliamentary defence and security committees.

The main purpose of the Meeting is to continue supporting cooperation among the Defence and Security Committees from SEE Parliaments by providing the platform for interaction of parliamentarians, security and defence policy experts and state officials and discussing parliamentary procedures, challenges and oversight mechanisms in the field of defence and security. A special focus of the 2019 Meeting will be the cyber security challenges in South East Europe, the cyber security governance within the EU framework, and the role of Parliaments in cyber security, by examining the oversight and legislative aspects of this increasingly important and challenging security area.

The Meeting was opened by Mr Gramoz Ruçi, Speaker of the Assembly of Albania, who underlined that transnational security threats such as terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, human trafficking, organized crime and cyber crimes are also common threats that the SEE region is facing.

Addressing the participants Mr Talant Balla, Head of the Socialist Parliamentary Group of the Albanian Parliament said that cyber crimes need to be treated seriously because they have a great impact on the sovereignty of our countries and that this Meeting represents a great opportunity to discuss and exchange best practices in dealing with this security phenomenon.

In his Opening speech RACVIAC Director, MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo, said: “The current security situation in South East Europe is characterized by complex developments – transition processes in the region, global geo-strategic interests, spill-over effects of the crisis in the European neighbourhood, and rapid development of new technologies, especially in the cyber domain, where we are increasingly facing the threats and challenges coming from the state and non-state actors. The nature of current security trends also imposes shifts in the traditional role of our security institutions which consequently affects the role, mechanisms and practices of parliamentary Defence and Security Committees“ MG (ret.) Bazo concluded.

On behalf of the co-organizers Ms Ermonela Felaj Valikaj, Chairperson of the National Security Committee of the Assembly of Albania, and Ms Hine-Wai Loose, Head of Cybersecurity Programme, Europe and Central Asia Division at DCAF - Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance, also welcomed the participants.

The Meeting has gathered more than 60 parliamentarians, members of defence and security committees, expert staff dealing with telecommunications and European integration, representatives of relevant state institutions who deal with cybersecurity issues, academia, EU Commission and DCAF.

30 October 2019

Crisis and Disaster Management Workshop organized in RACVIAC

A two-day “Crisis and Disaster Management Workshop”, organized by RACVIAC -Centre for Security Cooperation in partnership with the Division of Risk Management and Societal Safety of Lund University, Sweden, and the Faculty of Political Sciences Zagreb, Croatia, took place in RACVIAC on 29-30 October 2019.

The main purpose of the Workshop was to contribute to the improvements of crisis/disaster command and control concepts of RACVIAC Members by providing the platform for interaction among national crisis/disaster management and civil protection experts, enabling them to present and analyse their national C2 concepts and inter-agency cooperation, best practices, challenges and lessons learned.

Opening the Workshop RACVIAC Director, MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo, said: “In today’s world we are facing a high level of uncertainty, complexity and changeability of crises and disasters. In order to be able to successfully deal with those complex challenges, the national crisis response systems must be managed by efficient command and control functions and structures. Understanding the importance of determining the most appropriate level of centralization of decision making, ensuring the smooth communication flow of information and orders among the stakeholders involved, overcoming the inter-agency rivalries and defining an adequate degree of their integration are the crucial prerequisites for timely and effective crisis responses”, he underlined.

The first Introductory speech was given by Mr Filip Dragović, PhD (United Nations Programme Development and Institute for Security Policies), who spoke about the importance of active contingency planning and cooperation and coordination among all actors involved at the local and national level. He emphasized that good crisis management might not prevent a crisis but can help to reduce the damage and loss of human lives.

The next speaker was Mr Vlatko Jovanovski, Head of Secretariat at the Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Initiative for South-Eastern Europe, who provided an explanation on the history, mission and main activities of the Initiative.

Professor Mo Hamza, PhD, Professor at the Division of Risk Management and Societal Safety at Lund University, Sweden, in his Introductory speech stressed the importance of proper command and control structures, leadership levels and resources and cooperation, as a prerequisite for effective crisis and disaster management.

The Workshop gathered more than 30 participants and lecturers, national crisis/disaster/emergency management representatives and civil protection experts from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Sweden, Turkey and Kosovo*. The Workshop was designed as a peer-to-peer event aimed at examining various C2 systems and inter-agency approaches to crisis/disaster management.

* 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.

21 October 2019

42nd MAG Meeting held in RACVIAC

The 42nd semi-annual Meeting of the Multinational Advisory Group (MAG), RACVIAC steering body, organized under the chairmanship of the Hellenic Republic, took place in Rakitje on 21 October 2019.

The Meeting, which gathers MAG Members, Associate Members, Observers, participants and partners, was chaired by Ad Hoc MAG Chairperson H.E. Mr Stavros Tsiepas, Ambassador of the Hellenic Republic to the Republic of Croatia.

The Meeting Agenda consisted of a brief presentation on the Director’s Interim Report by the Director of RACVIAC, MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo, who highlighted the most significant achievements of RACVIAC work in the first eight months of 2019.

MG (ret.) Bazo pointed out that RACVIAC continued to support its Members in achieving full membership in European and Euro-Atlantic integrations. He added: “Hosting the activities in the areas of security has been one of the main priorities in order to respond to the needs and address the challenges that all of our countries are facing”. Furthermore, he provided information regarding the visits and the meetings that took place in order to establish new partnerships or revitalize existing ones. In that regard he drew attention to the fact that RACVIAC has become an Associated Network Partner of the European Security and Defence College in July of this year thus increasing its capacity to better support and enhance European and Euro-Atlantic processes of SEE aspiring countries.

Furthermore, Director took the opportunity to thank all Members, Associate Members, Observers, and partners for their continuous support to the Centre.

Pursuant to the Agenda Brigadier General Gordana Garašić, RACVIAC Deputy Director, and RACVIAC Programme Managers Col Servet Aya, Ms Ana Ezhova Krzhaloska, and Mr Bosko Rotim, gave presentations with regard to the respective Programme activities conducted in 2019 and plans for 2020.

Afterwards, BG Garašić informed the MAG representatives about the current personnel situation in the Centre. Deputy Director took the opportunity to sensitize Members about the unsatisfactory personnel situation and renew the call to send qualified personnel, especially those Members that are not represented in RACVIAC.

In addition, Maj Jasminka Šoić, Chief of Admin and Finance Cell, briefed MAG participants on the RACVIAC Budget for 2019 and financial projections for the future.

The last briefing was related to the Concept Paper for the new RACVIAC Strategy 2021-2026. Col Josef Pulko, Planning and Liaison Officer, provided detailed information about the current status of Strategy development and the way ahead, which was adopted by all Members present.

At the end of the Meeting MAG elected Mr Ivica Ivanović, PhD, Director General for Defence Policy of the Ministry of Defence of Montenegro, as the new MAG Chairperson. Pursuant to the Montenegrin MAG Chairmanship for next year the 43rd MAG will take place in Montenegro from 6 to 9 April 2020.

Taking into account that consensus of Members was reached for all activities in the Draft Programme 2020 with the exception of the Open Skies Treaty Aerial Observation Course, MAG delayed its decision for a month. The final decision on RACVIAC 2020 Programme will be made during the Extraordinary MAG Meeting, which will take place in RACVIAC on November 25.

04 October 2019

Representatives of Gaminger Initiative visits RACVIAC

On 04 October 2019 the representatives of the Gaminger Initiative, the Union of Reserve Officers Associations, led by Cdr. (R) Giuseppe Filippo Imbalzano, President, visited RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation.

The visit to RACVIAC was a part of GAMING II-2019, hosted by the Croatian Reserve Officers Association, and held in Zagreb and Samobor on 03-06 October 2019.

The guests were welcomed by RACVIAC Deputy Director, BG Gordana Garašić and RACVIAC staff members.

Following a presentation that covers the history, mission, annual Programme, and accomplishments of the Centre, RACVIAC Deputy Director provided additional explanations related to the development and evaluation of its Programme of activities emphasizing that over the years it has been changing and evolving in order to reflect the Members’ needs and requests. BG emphasized that, for almost two decades, the Centre has been serving as an excellent platform for networking and building of security and confidence among the countries in the SEE region.

During the discussion that followed questions related to the Programme of activities and future projects of the Centre were raised.

The Gaminger Initiative is a regional, middle European platform, focused on important issues of European Security Policy and military affairs. It is a mutual platform for Reserve Officers and Officers’ Associations of its member countries: Republic of Croatia, Czech Republic, Federal Republic of Germany, Hungary, Italian Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Republic of Slovenia and Switzerland.

30 September 2019

MAG POCs Meeting held in RACVIAC

On 30 September 2019 the Meeting of Points of Contact of Multinational Advisory Group – Steering Committee of RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation was held on RACVIAC premises.

The purpose of the Meeting was to discuss and coordinate details related to the inputs received from RACVIAC members and partner organizations regarding the proposed draft of Programme 2020 as well as the draft Concept Paper for the new strategy 2021-2026.

Opening the meeting RACVIAC Director, MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo, welcomed the representatives from Members and Associate Members saying that the Centre greatly appreciates their outstanding support and cooperation.

The meeting began with a presentation by RACVIAC Deputy Director BG Gordana Garašić who provided information on the draft Programme 2020 as well as some additional proposals and remarks received via the Questionnaire regarding specific requests and/or aspects of participation by RACVIAC respective Members, Associate Members and partners.

In addition, MAG POCs informed RACVIAC on their readiness to host or otherwise support some particular activities. Also, several details were clarified resulting in a more precise and concrete draft Programme 2020 that will be presented for the approval at the upcoming MAG Meeting in October 2019.

In accordance to the adopted Roadmap for strategy development, the afternoon session of the Meeting was related to the presentation and discussion on the 1st draft of the Concept Paper for the new strategy 2021-2026, that outlines RACVIAC way ahead and main fields of interest.

13 September 2019

RACVIAC Director Meets with Hungarian Minister of Defence

On 13 September 2019 RACVIAC Director MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo had a courtesy meeting with Hungarian Minister of Defence Dr. Tibor Benkő.

In course of the discussion MG (ret.) Bazo presented briefly the Centre’s mission and accomplishments providing some insights related to the nature, aim and process of development of RACVIAC Programme activities. He emphasized that apart from promoting dialogue and cooperation between the SEE countries networking has always been a very important aspect of RACVIAC overall aims.

MG (ret.) Bazo also took the opportunity to express appreciation on behalf of the Centre for the highly valuable support that Hungary, as a very reliable and active Associate Member, has been continuously providing to RACVIAC since its inception in 2000. Director Bazo expressed his special gratitude for Hungary’s invaluable contribution to the RACVIAC Vienna Document 2011 Compliance and Verification Course which took place in Szolnok on 8-13 September 2019.

Dr. Benkő elaborated on the recent reform processes in the Hungarian Armed Forces. He also accentuated importance of the security and stability in the SEE region and expressed his appreciation for RACVIAC role towards maintaining it. The Minister availed himself of this opportunity to underline that Hungary will continue to support the Centre in the future as well.

11 September 2019

UK Ambassador visits RACVIAC

On Wednesday, 11 September 2019, H.E. Mr Andrew Dalgleish, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the Republic of Croatia, visited RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation. Ambassador Dalgleish was accompanied by the Defence Attaché to Croatia and Hungary Wg Cdr John Kelly.

After a presentation on RACVIAC history, mission and accomplishments of the Centre Director MG (Ret.) Jeronim Bazo provided further explanations related to RACVIAC members, the nature, aim and outcomes of RACVIAC Programme of activities, emphasizing that apart from promoting dialogue and cooperation between the SEE countries networking has always been a very important aspect of RACVIAC overall aims in order to exchange information and harmonize practices and procedures.

MG (ret.) Bazo also took the opportunity to express appreciation to Ambassador Dalgleish regarding the readiness of the United Kingdom, as a RACVIAC Associate Member, to intensify mutual cooperation in the future.

In continuation more detailed aspects of future cooperation that will contribute to a safe and stable South East European region were discussed.

09 September 2019

Vienna Document 2011 Course starts in Hungary

The “Vienna Document 2011 Compliance and Verification Course”, organized by RACVIAC-Centre for Security Cooperation and the Hungarian Defence Forces, started today in Szolnok, Hungary.

In order to facilitate the implementation of the provisions of the Vienna Document RACVIAC has been organizing Vienna Document courses for the countries of the South East European region since 2001.

The purpose of this Course is to provide participants with a theoretical overview of the Vienna Document 2011 (VD ’11) offering a comprehensive analysis of both the theoretical and practical rules and procedures of its execution as well as the duties and responsibilities of the personnel to be engaged in the implementation of the aforementioned Arms Control document thus demonstrating the real spirit of the confidence- and security-building measures.

Opening the Course RACVIAC Deputy Director, BG Gordana Garašić, welcomed all the participants, especially those who have never been involved in a RACVIAC activities before, and said: ”In addition to providing our participants with the opportunity to gain solid theoretical knowledge, a great plus of this Course is that participants will be able to familiarise themselves with the realities of the Vienna Document activities since during the second half of the Course visits will be conducted in military units”. She also took the opportunity to express utmost gratitude to Hungary for hosting and co-organising the Course on behalf of the whole RACVIAC family as well as to Germany and Croatia for the provision of financial support.

Speaking on behalf of the host country COL Gyula Andrejcsik, Head of Arms Control Division, HDF, underlined that cooperation is very important since it enhances mutual understanding and security in the region. He further expressed pleasure of having participants from nearly all the nations from the Balkan region as well as lecturers from seven different nations.

The Course has gathered participants and lecturers from Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus, Croatia, Italy, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo*, the US Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), and OSCE.

The Course is designed as a combination of theoretical lectures and practical activities to be carried out in Hungarian military units, namely at the Hungarian Defence Forces’ 86th “Szolnok Helicopter Base” and the 2nd “Vitéz Bertalan Árpád” Special Operations Brigade where evaluation training will take place thus providing an excellent opportunity for the participants to gain experience in carrying out the formation/unit commanders’ duties as well as receiving a VD ’11 inspection or evaluation visit. The working language of the Course is English. .

* 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.

09 September 2019

Gender Training of the Trainers Course starts in RACVIAC

The “Gender Training of the Trainers Course”, organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation, in cooperation with the Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations as the NATO Department Head for Gender Education and Training (NCGM), and the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia, started on 09 September 2019 in RACVIAC.

This event is a continuation of a series of annual activities launched in 2013 aimed at promotion of gender equality policies and equal opportunities in the security sector.

The purpose of the Course is to enable instructors and trainers to successfully plan, conduct and evaluate education, training and exercises on how to integrate the gender perspective within their respective functional area. Additionally, the Course will provide participants with the knowledge of frameworks and guidelines in regulating gender in military operations as well as skills and competencies required to effectively plan, conduct and evaluate the training of security sector personnel in both the national and international context.

Opening the Course RACVIAC Director, MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo, said: “This is already the sixth Course in a row organised by RACVIAC which shows the relevance of the Centre as a regional hub for gender mainstreaming in South East Europe.” Relating to the United Nations Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security MG (ret.) Bazo pointed out: “the Resolutions are also calling for women’s meaningful participation in peace processes, beyond just representation and quotas. Meaningful participation means that women are at the table when peace negotiations are taking place, women’s interests and needs are fully reflected in peace processes, and that women are equally considered in the aftermath of conflict.” He continued by saying: “We realized that the integration of the gender perspective is a valuable tool in the toolbox that a commander has in order to successfully accomplish a mission, at home or abroad. To have a gender perspective means to be able to detect if and when men and women are being affected differently by a situation due to their gender. In terms of planning and conducting a military operation it is important to recognize that by addressing and recognising the whole population we are increasing the operational effectiveness of our tasks and missions“, concluded MG (ret.) Bazo.

This two-week Course has gathered participants and lecturers from 14 countries from all over Europe.

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 integration of the gender perspective, 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”.

Upon successful completion of the Course the participants will receive certificates proving that they are NATO certified gender trainers.

04 September 2019

The twelfth C-WMD Network Meeting starts in RACVIAC

The twelfth Meeting of the C-WMD Network on Developing a National WMD Counterproliferation Strategies started today in RACVIAC.

The Meeting has been organized with continuous support from U.S European Command (USEUCOM) that facilitates the participation of experts from the U.S. Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), the International Counterproliferation Program (ICP), the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), and Republic of Croatia.

Opening the Meeting RACVIAC Director, MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo, said: “C-WMD Network has achieved great success so far: most of the participating states have either completed or are in the process of completing their national WMD Counterproliferation Strategies or validating them. During Phase two of the project the Network is moving forward to develop new and sustainable regional cooperation mechanisms and an information sharing platform”, MG (ret.) Bazo underlined.

Speaking on behalf of the co-organizer Mr Scott Dunn, WMD Programme Manager at USEUCOM, emphasized that taking steps to solidify regional cooperation is critical to counter proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

TDuring the next three days the Meeting will focus on further facilitating and reviewing the progress in the development of national C-WMD strategies and examining recent trends and emerging technologies in WMD proliferation. Additionally, the participants will discuss future project management and mechanisms of continued regional information sharing.

The Meeting has gathered more than 40 participants, members from national drafting/working groups of the participating states, competent authority planners and implementers engaged in the implementation of the C-WMD national strategy, and experts from USEUCOM and DTRA.

02 July 2019

Arms Control Symposium Starts in RACVIAC

The “Arms Control Symposium”, RACVIAC flagship event in the Arms Control field, organized with the support of the Federal Republic of Germany, started today in RACVIAC.

The event is built on the experience of last years’ symposiums and is aimed to present the most recent trends and developments in the Arms Control and non-proliferation area as well as the future of Arms Control taking into consideration the developments in the non-proliferation area in the region both in Europe and on a global scale.

“RACVIAC is honored to serve as a regional platform to enable RACVIAC Members to update on relevant information regarding these fields and in this way be able to contribute to Confidence and Security Building Measures with this annual event. As we have repeatedly stated a regional approach to security issues is a crucial element of peace and stability in the region and beyond. Hence, I hope that the Symposium will serve as a tool for increasing cooperation, openness and transparency amongst our countries”, said RACVIAC Director MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo opening the Symposium.

The Symposium brought together more than 30 national and international Arms Control and non-proliferation experts and policy makers from the South East European countries, OSCE, the National University for Public Service in Budapest, the US Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNDP’s South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC), the Bundeswehr Verification Centre, and the Korean Institute for Maritime Strategy.

13 June 2019

RACVIAC Director visits North Macedonia

On 12-13 June 2019 Director of RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo accompanied by Programme Manager Ms Ana Ezova Krzhaloska paid courtesy visits to the Parliament, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of North Macedonia.

During the meeting at the Parliament MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo acquainted Mr Talat Xhaferi, the President of the Parliament, with RACVIAC activities in 2019 and some of the flagship projects. Mr Xhaferi highlighted that RACVIAC serves as an efficient regional platform for discussion on several contemporary security challenges, indicating that the Centre should continue with the Annual Meetings of the Members of the Defence and Security Committees of SEE Parliaments that was hosted in Skopje last year. Both expressed hope that the cooperation will be further enhanced in the forthcoming period thus facilitating the integration of North Macedonia into the EU. Both agreed that security cooperation and dialogue is a key for secure and stable SEE region.

During the visit to the Ministry of Defence RACVIAC delegation had separated meetings with the Deputy Minister, Mr Bekim Maksuti, and the State Secretary in the MoD Mr Dragan Nikolic. RACVIAC Director MG (ret.) Bazo presented the main accomplishments of the Centre in recent period as well as activities planned for 2019. He emphasized that the Centre is and will continue to reflect even more intensively the Members’ needs in terms of supporting Euro- Atlantic integration processes of all SEE aspiring countries. He underlined that this will be main focus of the Centre's Strategy in the forthcoming period. He also took the opportunity to express his appreciation for the ongoing support that North Macedonia as reliable Member is providing to RACVIAC as well as active participation in all RACVIAC events.

RACVIAC courtesy visit to North Macedonia ended with the meeting with the State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mr Viktor Dimovski. Regional security and stability, importance of security dialogue and cooperation in addressing contemporary security challenges and some other topics were taken up at the meeting. Both agreed that that Euro-Atlantic integrations are the best way of preserving stability and security in the region. MG (ret.) Bazo took this opportunity to congratulate to Mr Dimovski on the recent appointment as the Director for National Security Agency.

12 June 2019

RACVIAC delegation participates in SEDM DCHODs Meeting

The Director of RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo and the Programme Manager Ms Ana Ezova Krzhaloska participated in the SEDM Deputies Chiefs of Defence Meeting that convened in Skopje on 11-12 June 2019.

The Deputies Chiefs of Defence from SEDM Nations and SEEBRIG, as well as representatives from NATO, RACVIAC and UNDP took part at the meeting.

The Meeting started with the welcome reception during which Ms Radmila Shekerinska, Minister of Defense of North Macedonia, greeted all participants. RACVIAC Director availed himself of the opportunity to thank to Ms Shekerinska for the ongoing support that North Macedonia is providing to the Centre.

During the Meeting the participants reaffirmed their dedication to support SEDM activities that aim to further strengthen stability, security and prosperity in the region. They also expressed their appreciation to Athens Chairmanship for the efforts to coordinate many fruitful activities and extended their wishes for success to the upcoming Tirana Chairmanship.

In the statement given at the Meeting MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo underlined: "The Euro-Atlantic integration and accession agenda is the yardstick aim in our work in defining the areas of cooperation and collaboration between different organizations and the countries themselves".

27 May 2019

WMD Cyber Crimes Investigations Course starts in RACVIAC

“Cyber Security: Training on WMD Cyber Crimes Investigations” Course, organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation with the support of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) from the USA, started on 27 May 2019 in RACVIAC.

This Course is a third event related to WMD Cyber crimes investigations organized by RACVIAC and DTRA based on the conclusions from a series of events conducted within the C-WMD Network project where cyber issues were identified as a common modern threat to security.

The objective of this Course is to instruct nontechnical investigators in the skills needed to exploit digital technology to combat criminal activities, the proliferation of WMD, and the misuse of dual-use materials and technologies. Participants will learn about the current cyber environment and the technologies presently employed by cyber experts to further criminal investigations. Furthermore, participants will also conduct a series of practical exercises utilizing the introduced methods and technologies. The Course will culminate in a capstone exercise where participants must analyze a suspect computer and find hidden information on the device.

Opening the Course RACVIAC Director, MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo, said: “We all know that Cyber space is commonly recognized as the battlefield of the future, and that it perhaps already is just that. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to develop the capabilities in our region, to be well prepared to protect our countries’ critical infrastructure, to detect and to take the necessary measures against illegal, criminal cyber activity, against terrorism or other forms of destabilizing attacks. Close regional and wider cooperation and networking is the only way forward for a strong response to todays’ challenges to security, leading to building of trust and confidence, harmony and enhanced synergy in our region”, concluded MG (ret.) Bazo.

Ms Victoria Taylor, Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy in Zagreb, welcomed the participants by saying that today’s security challenges are global. Whether it’s terrorism, trafficking in drugs, people and weapons, or cyber security, these security issues are cross border and require a global approach. Regional courses such as this one are crucial to effectively address the security challenges, she added. Security and stability in South East Europe is critical to European security and is a United States’ priority. The United States continues to believe that anchoring South East Europe in Euro-Atlantic institutions is the best path for regional stability and development, Ms Taylor also underlined.

Attending from the co-organizing organization was Lt Col Matthew Summey from the International Counterproliferation Program at the US Defence Threat Reduction Agency. He indicated how pleased he was to see the return of this course to RACVIAC which facilitates critical regional interaction and coordination in tackling threats that “do not respect borders.” He said: “threats such as cybercrime and criminal financial transactions do not stop at a border or checkpoint, or port of entry. For crimes like this regional, inter-governmental cooperation, is paramount. Having so many RAVCIAC partners represented here is indicative of what it takes to tackle these challenges.” This five-day Course has gathered officers, analysts, and investigators from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, Kosovo*, and RACVIAC.

* 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.

15 May 2019

Meeting with the RCC Secretary General

RACVIAC Director MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo and Deputy Director BG Gordana Garašić paid a courtesy visit to the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) on 15 May 2019 and met with Ms Majlinda Bregu, the RCC Secretary General.

At the beginning RACVIAC management acquainted Ms Bregu with the main accomplishments of the Centre in recent period as well as activities planned for 2019. They emphasized that the Centre is and will continue to reflect even more the Members’ needs and requests, especially in terms of supporting Euro-Atlantic integrations of SEE aspiring countries in the forthcoming period. They also took the opportunity to express their appreciation for the support that RCC provided to RACVIAC so far, namely in conducting the activities related to foreign terrorist fighters.

In continuation areas of closer cooperation and joint activities that would be beneficial for the SEE region were discussed, mostly in the areas covering security sector reform, cyber, foreign terrorist fighters, SALW etc.

Both sides agreed that the only way to enhance regional cooperation, dialogue and capacity building is based on synergy instead of duplication off efforts.

14 May 2019

Financial Agreement for 2019 signed with Germany

On 14 May 2018 H.E. Dr Robert Klinke, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Republic of Croatia, and MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo, RACVIAC Director, signed the Financial Agreement between RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation and the Federal Republic of Germany for 2019.

As in the previous years with this Agreement the Federal Republic of Germany allocated funds which will be used to cover the costs of RACVIAC activities: seminars, courses and workshops organized within the Cooperative Security Environment with focus on Arms Control and Security Sector Reform Pillars. The identified range of activities in the Cooperative Security Environment domain ranges from education and training of Arms Control personnel thus assisting the states in the region to improve and harmonise the standards of implementation of Arms Control agreements and other Confidence and Security Building Measures to further reducing the level of insecurity among the Members on the other hand. The main activities include the “Dayton Article IV Course”, Document 2011“Vienna Course”, “Open Skies Course”, and the “Arms Control Symposium”.

Additionally, the “Gender Training of the Trainers Course” conducted within the Security Sector Reform domain that focuses on promoting the different aspects and principles of accountable, efficient and civilan-controlled security sector, also received Federal Republic of Germany’s support. This specific Course is enhancing regional cooperation and building capacities in the implementation of the gender perspective in the security sector in South East Europe.

The Federal Republic of Germany as an Associate Member of RACVIAC has proved to be a constant, invaluable supporter of the Organization since its inception not only in financial but in political terms too and by providing expertise thus significantly contributing to security cooperation and dialogue in the region and beyond.

14 May 2019

Defence Diplomacy Course students pay a visit to RACVIAC

On Tuesday, 14 May 2019 the students representing the 15th generation of the Defence Diplomacy Course of the Croatian Defence Academy, led by COL Slobodan Čurčija, Course Leader, visited RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation.

The guests were welcomed by RACVIAC Director, MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo, Deputy Director BG Gordana Garašić and RACVIAC staff members.

Following a presentation that covers the history, mission, annual Programme, and accomplishments of the Centre, RACVIAC Director and Deputy Director provided additional explanations related to the development of its Programme of activities emphasizing that over the years it has been changing and evolving in order to reflect the Members’ needs and requests. They said that most of RACVIAC activities are interconnected, dealing with emerging security challenges such as cyber security, countering terrorism and violent extremism, foreign terrorist fighters, etc.

They also emphasized that the Centre’s activities have for almost two decades been serving as an excellent platform for networking and building of security and confidence among the countries in the SEE region.

During the discussion that followed questions related to RACVIAC Members and future perspective of the Centre were raised.

07 May 2019

Regional Workshop on Whistleblowing starts in Podgorica

The Regional Workshop on Whistleblowing in the Security Sector, co-organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation, Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative and the Ministry of Defence of Montenegro, started in Podgorica today.

South East European countries continue to face a number of challenges including corruption, lack of independence and impartiality of the judiciary and the prioritization of business interests over political integrity. The security sector is particularly vulnerable since it has to address corruption but ensure that security is not at risk. One of the measures that addresses the process of integrity building and related issues is the protection of whistleblowers. Although considered a controversial topic according to a recent publication of the Centre for Integrity in the Defence Sector (CIDS) the restriction of the ‘right to know’ on the grounds of confidentiality of state secrets sets the democratic legitimacy of secrecy against the democratic legitimacy of transparency which is more inherent to the notion of representative democracy.

Furthermore, the latest publication produced by the Southeast Coalition on Protection of Whistleblowers confirms the survey findings and claims that evidence shows that new laws do not always protect citizens and employees from being fired, demoted, harassed, sued or even prosecuted. These findings are being leveraged to close dangerous legislative gaps that expose whistleblowers to career, personal and financial ruin. Therefore, strengthened protection mechanisms are needed to bring about solutions to these and other challenges. Developing stronger rights of and protection for whistleblowers have been recognized and cited by Transparency International, EU, OECD and many others as essential elements of curbing corruption in the SEE region.

The objective of this two-day Workshop is to increase the capacity of the security sector in the field of integrity and corruption prevention as well as to increase awareness about innovative anti-corruption mechanisms but also the needed legal solutions and regulatory measures on whistleblower protection.

Opening the Workshop RACVIAC Director MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo said: “Due to its specificities the field of defence has been identified as an area with high risks for misconducts and corruption. Public procurement, conflict of interest, financial control and data protection have been acknowledged as particularly vulnerable processes. In this respect, further actions and support to the respective authorities in South East Europe in strengthening their institutional integrity and resilience is needed.” He continued by saying: “The protection of reporting persons - whistleblowers - has been identified as one of the biggest challenges for all governments in South East Europe. I expect that all experts that have gathered here today will use the opportunity this Workshop provides to exchange experiences and best practices, to address the common challenges in the region, but also to further develop mutual contacts and networks among the participants from South East Europe. In accordance with RACVIAC mission to foster dialogue and cooperation on security matters in SEE, including corruption fighting, we see this Workshop as an excellent opportunity to coordinate efforts in this field”, concluded MG (ret.) Bazo.

In his opening remarks Mr Andrej Lakić, Head of the International Cooperation Department, Defense Policy and Planning Directorate, Ministry of Defense of Montenegro, said that Montenegro has adopted a number of laws aimed at combating corruption and organized crime in compliance with obligations arising from the ratification of international conventions and membership organizations within the field of prevention and fight against corruption. However, much remains to be done to develop a climate of openness and integrity that enables effective whistleblower protection, he emphasized.

Speaking on behalf of the co-organizer, Mr Vladan Joksimović, Head of Secretariat, Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative, said: “Significant steps have been made in the corruption prevention field: anti-corruption assessment of laws, corruption risk assessment in public institutions and protection of whistleblowers being at the forefront. Nevertheless, corruption remains a major threat to economic growth, stability and security in South East Europe. I am sure we can all agree that this is a reality as much as it is a perception. Corruption cannot be dealt with by individual governments only, and regional cooperation on anti-corruption has to be further strengthened.” Although some progress is evident at the national level, Mr Joksimović underlined that there is still a lot of work ahead because the implementation does not match legislation.

Being aware of the fact that integrity building in defence and security areas presents one of the common challenges in the region RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation, Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative and the Ministry of Defence of Montenegro have been implementing joint activities in the last couple of years. The first activity that looked into the emerging trends and experiences in the field of whistleblowing was conducted in 2016 and this year’s event presents a continuation of dialogue and exchanging of experiences.

30 April 2019

Visit of NATO School Oberammergau delegation

A NATO School Oberammergau delegation consisting of the Dean of Academics, Colonel Brian A. Hill (US-AF), and Special Advisor to the Commandant, Colonel Paul Handle (AT-A), visited RACVIAC on 30 April 2019.

This was a return visit of NATO School representatives aimed to discuss future cooperation and collaboration between the two Organizations following RACVIAC Director’s, MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo’s, inaugural visit to Oberammmergau in February of this year.

During the meeting RACVIAC Programme and Activity Managers presented areas of interest of their respective Pillars and provided details about the activities planned for 2019.

In the discussion that followed several areas of common interest and modalities for more intensive cooperation were explored, namely in the area of Arms Control, contemporary security challenges, transnational threats, etc. In that regard both delegations agreed to come up with more details in the near future.

At the end it was agreed that the existing MoU between RACVIAC and NATO School should be re-signed and put fully into effect for the benefit of both Organizations.

09 April 2019

MAG Meeting held in Athens

The 41st MAG Meeting, the semi-annual meeting of the Multinational Advisory Group (MAG), RACVIAC steering body, took place in Athens, Hellenic Republic on 9 April 2019. The meeting, which gathered the member countries of the MAG, was organized by the MAG Chairmanship of the Hellenic Republic.

The Meeting was officially opened by the MAG Chairperson Mr Eleftherios Anghelopoulos, Ambassador a.h.

MAG started with a brief presentation of the Director’s Annual Report by the Director of RACVIAC, Major General (ret.) Jeronim Bazo, who highlighted the most significant achievements gained in the reporting period. He informed the audience that the Centre successfully conducted 22 activities in 2018. General Bazo said that all of the conducted activities, related to a wide spectrum of security issues, supported dialogue, cooperation, networking, capacity and confidence building in SEE region. He also underlined that RACVIAC has further intensified cooperation and partnership with international and regional organizations and initiatives such as NATO, OSCE, RCC, IAEA, UNODC, NCGM, DTRA, etc. Director expressed his gratitude to MAG for supporting RACVIAC to enhance its cooperation with the European Security Defence College (ESDC) and in that regard become a part of the ESDC Network with the main aim of exchanging information, curricula and experts for the benefit of the quality of RACVIAC activities.

General Bazo pointed out that RACVIAC continued to reflect upon and address, on the basis of the needs and guidance of its Members, the most emergent threats to regional and international security as well as the transformation processes within the countries of SEE in view of the Euro Atlantic integration responsibilities and institutional readiness.

Director’s presentation was followed by the presentations by RACVIAC Deputy Director and Programme Managers, with regard to the respective Programme achievements and activities conducted in 2018, current status of 2019 Programme and projections for 2012.

MAG accepted the proposed Roadmap for the finalization of the RACVIAC Strategy 2021-2026. RACVIAC will request Members, Associate Members, partners and organizations to provide the needed expertise in order to have the final document for adoption at the 44th MAG Meeting.

In addition, MAG participants were briefed on the RACVIAC Budget realization for 2018, all relevant issues regarding the Budget for 2019, as well as projections for the next four years.

Pursuant to the Agenda RACVIAC Deputy Director informed the MAG representatives about the current personnel structure in the Centre encouraging once more RACVIAC Members and Associate Members to second personnel to the positions of Programme and Activity Managers.

At the end of the meeting the MAG Chairperson invited Montenegro to send information on its nominee for the position of the MAG Chairperson till 31st July 2019 to have MAG approval at the next MAG Meeting in RACVIAC.

05 April 2019

Marshall Centre Representative visits RACVIAC

On Friday, 05 April 2019, Mr Christopher Burelli, Director of Alumni Programs at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, visited RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation.

The guest was welcomed by RACVIAC Director, MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo, Deputy Director BG Gordana Garašić and RACVIAC staff members.

Following a brief introduction and presentation on the history, mission, and RACVIAC annual Programme of activities, MG (ret.) Bazo took the opportunity to emphasize that the Centre serves as an excellent platform for networking and building of trust and confidence among the SEE countries, which is directly connected to stability and security in Europe. He also noted that RACVIAC continues to support the European and Euro-Atlantic integration of SEE aspiring countries as its primary mission. He added that the challenge of fulfilling the NATO and EU membership criteria prompted the need for better regional cooperation among the SEE countries as well.

In continuation Mr Burelli presented GCMC Alumni work and achievements underlining that they recognize RACVIAC as an important regional institution that contributes to dialogue and cooperation.

During the discussion that followed matters of common interest related to measures of effectiveness regarding the activities conducted, the possibility of having a regular RACVIAC seat at the table at the GCMC Regional Alumni Forums as well as further cooperation on some specific activities were discussed.

26 March 2019

Dayton Article IV Orientation Course begins in Kraljevo

The ‘Agreement on Sub-Regional Arms Control (Dayton Article IV)’- Orientation Course began in Kraljevo, Republic of Serbia, on Tuesday, 26 March 2019. It is based on the provisions of the Agreement on Sub-Regional Arms Control pursuant to the General Framework Agreement for Peace in BA, Annex I-B, Article IV.

The purpose of this Course is to instruct the designated individuals on how to successfully perform their duties as inspectors and/or escorts pursuant to the Agreement on Sub-Regional Arms Control and to establish a common understanding of the Agreement in order to foster mutual trust and confidence as well as transparency during the performance of inspections.

In her Opening address, on behalf of MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo, Director, RACVIAC Deputy Director BG Gordana Garašić stated: “The Dayton Article IV Course is one of the most recognizable annual activities of our Organization since it evidently makes a significant contribution to regional stability, transparency and trust and attracts participants not only from the SEE region but the entire world as well. Having participants from France, South Korea, Spain and France, or from the DTRA with us here today proves the importance of this Agreement not only when it comes to its successful practical application nowadays but experience and good practice sharing as well” added BG Garašić. At the end BG Garašić also took the opportunity to thank the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Serbia for the support it has provided in the organization of the practical part of the Course and the Federal Republic of Germany for its contribution.

The Course will last 4 working days and it will consist of a theoretical and a practical part. The practical part of this year’s Course will be held at two declared sites: 98th Airforce Brigade, Airport “Morava” and the 2nd Army Brigade, in Kraljevo. It will involve a training inspection of a Declared Site, enabling the participants, previously divided into two teams, to practice their roles as inspectors or escorts.

The Course has gathered more than 30 participants from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, USA, and the OSCE.

The Course has been organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation since 2001 with the support of the Federal Republic of Germany. In the beginning this Course was co-organized by RACVIAC and the Office of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for Article IV of Annex 1B of the Dayton Peace Accords but in 2015 Signatory Parties took ownership of the Regional Arms Control, Dayton Article IV Agreement thus assuming responsibility for its further development in cooperation with international partners.

04 March 2019

RACVIAC Director meets the Croatian President

On 04 March 2019 RACVIAC Director MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo paid an inaugural visit to the President of the Republic of Croatia, H.E. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović.

MG (ret.) Bazo acquainted the President with RACVIAC Programme of activities and explained that apart from fostering dialogue and cooperation among the SEE countries networking has always been one of the most important aspects of RACVIAC overall aims in order to provide a platform for exchange of information, ideas and building of confidence. When talking about the security situation and relationships in the region he underlined that “speaking to rather than about each other” is what RACVIAC has been advocating for almost two decades. He also emphasized that the Centre is and will continue to be fully committed to supporting the ultimate goal of SEE aspiring countries: their full membership in Euro-Atlantic institutions as the best way to preserve stability and security in the region.

At the end MG (ret.) Bazo also availed himself of the opportunity to express his appreciation on behalf of the Organization for the constant and invaluable contribution and support that Croatia, as the host nation, has been providing to RACVIAC since its inception.

Speaking about RACVIAC mission and its role in the region H.E. Grabar-Kitarović expressed her appreciation for the Centre’s work and contribution to security dialogue in SEE. She pointed out that the Euro-Atlantic course of the region is the only right one and in that sense she supports all RACVIAC efforts aimed at accelerating the integration processes. The President continued by saying that no country is an island and able to deal alone with security issues, so that international cooperation among countries of the region is of highest importance. At the end she reiterated her readiness to continue supporting RACVIAC even by personally attending one of its events in the near future.

RACVIAC Deputy Director BG Gordana Garašić also attended the meeting.

26 February 2019

RACVIAC delegation pays a visit to GCMC and NATO School Oberammergau

RACVIAC delegation consisting of MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo, Director, COL Josef Pulko, Planning and Liaison Officer, and Mr Boško Rotim, acting Programme Manager for Security Sector Reform Pillar, payed a visit to the George C. Marshall European Centre for Security Studies and the NATO School Oberammergau on 25-26 February 2019.

On the first day the delegation met with the GCMC leadership. The meeting was hosted by BG (ret.) Dieter Bareihs, U.S. Deputy Director, who gave a brief overview about the Centre. After a presentation given by MG (ret.) Bazo on RACVIAC history, mission, Programme of activities and the way ahead Dr Matthew Rhodes, area studies chair, moderated a discussion on potential programme cooperation.

Cooperation in the area of Cyber security, countering terrorism and organized crime, and emerging security challenges for South East Europe were discussed. Both delegations expressed their readiness to foster cooperation on security matters that could contribute more efficiently to security and stability in the region as well as encourage Euro-Atlantic integration of SEE aspirant countries.

Mr Christopher Burelli, Director of Alumni Programs, presented the work of the Marshall Center Alumni Programs, emphasizing the networking aspects, Scholars Program, regional Alumni conferences and benefits of accessing the Centre’s Library in support of academic work and research. While discussing the importance of networking the possibility of using RACVIAC as GCMC’s regional alumni hub was also underlined.

The visit to GCMC included also a lecture on Countering Transnational Organized Crime (CTOC) (the Course “Goals and Objectives”) as well as lunch with the Southeast European CTOC Course participants hosted by Dr Andrew Michta, the Dean.

On 26 February the RACVIAC delegation visited the NATO School Oberammergau and had an office call with the Commandant, COL Timothy Dreifke first. Afterwards, COL Brian A. Hill, the Dean of Academics and NATO School staff members took part in the meeting as well. The mission, role, structure, programs and future plans of both organizations were exchanged.

In the discussion that followed the NATO School expressed an interest and readiness to further explore opportunities for more intensive future cooperation as well as active participation in RACVIAC activities such as “Arms Control Symposium” and “The Security Challenges for Europe Conference”. At the end all agreed that the existing MoU between RACVIAC and NATO School has to be put into effect fully for the benefit of both organizations. In that regard NATO School staff promised to visit RACVIAC soon.

14 February 2019

RACVIAC Delegation meets EU representatives in Brussels

A RACVIAC delegation consisting of Director MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo, Planning and Liaison Officer for Western Europe and International Organizations Colonel Josef Pulko, MSD and the Security Sector Reform Pillar acting Programme Manager Mr Boško Rotim paid a visit to Brussels on 13-14 February 2019.

On the first day of the visit the delegation had a meeting with the Austrian representation to the European Union. After a very comprehensive briefing by Col Johann Trummer and Col Klaus Anderle on EU structures, instruments and procedures our delegation had an office call with the Austrian Military Representative to the European Union Lieutenant General Franz Leitgeb. The meeting provided the possibility to discuss the role of Austria as a partner country for RACVIAC in regards to EU related topics as well as some issues of common interest related to European security challenges.

The next day started with the meeting with the Head of the European Security Defence College, Mr Dirk Dubois. Mr Dubois informed RACVIAC delegation about the history, mission, structure and the curriculum of the College, explaining the new developments such as the establishment of the Cyber ETEE platform and the way ahead. Since both institutions have a lot in common in terms of addressing the most pressing transnational and regional security issues both agreed that the ESDC and RACVIAC have to formalize and enhance their cooperation in the near future focusing on facilitating the association process of SEE countries to the EU.

Afterwards, another significant meeting was held with the Chairman of the EU Military Committee General Claudio Graziano. At the meeting RACVIAC Director MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo used the opportunity to shortly present the Centre’s mission, Programme of activities, some flagship events and major achievements, underlining that RACVIAC is a regionally owned organization that works in the region and for the region exclusively.

General Graziano informed RACVIAC delegation about the most relevant issues within the EU Military Committee. During the discussion that followed several topics of common interest related to international and regional security and stability were discussed. At the end General Graziano expressed his firm commitment to support RACVIAC on broadening and intensifying its cooperation with the EU institutions as well as its overall work on accelerating the Euro-Atlantic integration processes of the SEE aspiring countries.

12 February 2019

Chemical Weapons Convention Workshop begins in RACVIAC

Workshop focusing on the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) started in RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation on 12 February 2019.

This activity is a continuation of fruitful cooperation between RACVIAC and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) which started in 2004 and promotes the implementation of the CWC in South-Eastern Europe. This year’s Workshop will focus specifically on chemical safety and security management concepts and mitigation strategies.

Opening the event RACVIAC Director MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo noted: “This year the main focus will be on Chemical Safety and Security Management. It is an extraordinarily important issue in the wide range of topics we are covering since chemical safety and security is an essential first step to prevent accidental or intentional misuse of these materials. “ MG (ret.) Bazo, furthermore, stressed: “It is essential for all players in this very complex and also specialised field, encompassed by the CWC, to have a complex picture about the issues, the ways of prevention, the other players as well as the possible solutions and answers if problems arise. The Workshop will define and explain chemical safety and security as well as explore the tools and means to enforce chemical safety and security and will give a detailed overview of related matters.”

Speaking on behalf of the OPCW Mr Rohan Perera, Senior Programme Officer, International Cooperation Branch, International Cooperation and Assistance Division, expressed his highest appreciation to RACVIAC for hosting this Workshop, and said: “The successful operation of the Convention over the past 21 years, its global acceptance, establish it as a key multilateral instrument banning an entire category of weapons of mass destruction under conditions of non-discrimination and strict verification. Many developing countries among the member states have an emerging chemical industry and they look forward to adopting best practices in chemical safety and security management. Countries also seek the safe use of chemicals to meet a number of challenges in such areas as health and environment”, pointed out Mr Perera.

The Workshop serves as a forum for discussing regional capacity building in the fight against chemical weapons and gaining a clear understanding of the measures that are currently in place in different SEE countries and the mechanisms deployed by them.

As a part of the Workshop agenda a Table top Exercise on National Chemical Asset, Threat, Vulnerability and Risk Assessment will be conducted. The exercise is developed to identify the risk based on the severity of harm and the likelihood of occurrence.

11 February 2019

Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt visits RACVIAC

The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the Republic of Croatia H.E. Mr Aly Omar Sirry, visited RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation on Monday, 11 February 2019.

The Ambassador was welcomed by RACVIAC Director, MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo, Deputy Director Brigadier General Gordana Garašić and RACVIAC staff members.

Following a brief introduction and presentation on the history, mission, and RACVIAC annual Programme of activities, RACVIAC Director took the opportunity to underline that RACVIAC Programme is still evolving and is being constantly refined taking into account the SEE countries’ needs and requirements, especially when it comes to supporting their integration into Euro-Atlantic structures. Although it is not always easy to measure the progress and impacts on the ground the Centre has launched projects such as the C-WMD Network that have achieved visible results and represent added value to security and stability in the region.

During the discussion that followed some of the transnational contemporary security threats related to migration and arms control were addressed.

11 February 2019

Azerbaijani Ambassador visits RACVIAC

On Monday, 11 February 2019, H.E. Mr Fakhraddin Gurbanov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Republic of Croatia, visited RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation. He was welcomed by RACVIAC Director, MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo.

Since Ambassador Gurbanov is familiar with RACVIAC history, mission and its overall aims MG (ret.) Bazo took this opportunity to provide further explanations related to the Centre’s recent developments and the Programme of activities for 2019. He emphasized that RACVIAC intends to broaden and intensify its cooperation with the EU and NATO institutions and agencies in order to support more efficiently Euro-Atlantic integration processes of the SEE aspiring countries.

MG (ret.) Bazo also provided additional information related to RACVIAC flagship activities and projects such as the C-WMD network and energy security that are also contributing to dialogue and cooperation in the region.

In continuation other issues related to security and stability in the SEE region and beyond were addressed.

08 February 2019

Meeting with the Head of EU Commission Representation in Croatia

On 08 February 2019 RACVIAC Director MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo met H.E. Ambassador Branko Baričević, the Head of the European Commission Representation in Croatia.

MG (ret.) Bazo used the opportunity to shortly present RACVIAC history, mission, Programme of activities and major projects and achievements. He explained that since its inception in 2000 RACVIAC serves as a platform for dialogue and networking on different security topics, such as Arms Control, security sector reform and transnational security challenges. MG (ret.) Bazo underlined that cooperation is and has always been a key word for building of trust and confidence among SEE countries which is directly connected to stability and security in Europe. He added that RACVIAC will focus more on supporting the Euro-Atlantic integration processes in SEE in the near future.

H.E. Ambassador Baričević presented some aspects of the new dynamics in the SEE region as well as European Commission’s recent involvement in the security and defence domain. Speaking about Commission’s “A Europe that protects” work programme Ambassador underlined that it will focus much more on safety and security measures in the future.

During the discussion that followed matters of common interest related to security and stability in SEE as well as further cooperation were addressed.

At the end both expressed the strong commitment for sharing information and further strengthening cooperation between RACVIAC and the EU Commission, thus contributing to enhancing trust and confidence in the region and beyond.

07 February 2019

Director General for Defence Policy of MOD of Montenegro visits RACVIAC

Mr Ivica Ivanović, Director General for Defence Policy of the Ministry of Defence of Montenegro, accompanied by Colonel Ivan Mašulović, Defence Attaché, visited RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation on Thursday, 07 February 2019.

The Montenegrin delegation was welcomed by RACVIAC Director, Major General (ret.) Jeronim Bazo and Deputy Director, Brigadier General Gordana Garašić.

MG (ret.) Bazo presented RACVIAC Programme of activities for 2019 emphasizing particular projects and flagship activities. He added that the activities of the Centre primarily reflect the Members’ needs and requirements focusing at the same time on the contemporary security agenda of the EU and SEE region in particular. MG (ret.) Bazo took the opportunity to express his gratitude for the ongoing support that Montenegro is providing to RACVIAC, especially when it comes to financial contribution and continuous hosting of certain activities.

Mr Ivanović expressed his appreciation for RACVIAC work on enhancing security and dialogue in the SEE region and its role in leveraging the Euro-Atlantic integration processes. He emphasized that Montenegro will continue to provide strong support to the Organization and confirmed that the secondment of the first Montenegrin member of staff in RACVIAC is under way.

In continuation they discussed possibilities of intensifying mutual cooperation in the near future.

05 February 2019

Eleventh C-WMD Network meeting starts in RACVIAC

Organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation, US European Command (USEUCOM), the Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), the International Counterproliferation Program (ICP), and the Republic of Croatia the 11th meeting of the C-WMD Network, titled “C-WMD National Strategies - The Mechanics of Regional Cooperation”, started on RACVIAC premises on 5 February 2019.

The Workshop continues facilitating the development of national C-WMD Strategies and Action Plans as a key focus of the project, with special focus on regional cooperation in counter-proliferation. The event is aimed at examining the benefits of a regional cooperation approach to counter-proliferation, as well as discussing various approaches and national proposals for engaging in activities within the regional cooperation framework.

The Workshop was opened by MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo, RACVIAC Director, who said: “The risk of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction increased by the evolving nature of terrorism is further complicated by the rapid advances in science, technology and international commerce. That’s why the need to counter the proliferation and misuse is greater than ever! Disarmament and non-proliferation remain indispensable to making the SEE region favorable to peace, security and development”, underlined MG (ret.) Bazo. At the end he expressed his hope that at the end of this meeting there will be clear proposals for continuation of the project in the future.

The event Keynote speech was delivered by General Mirko Šundov, Chief of Defence of the Republic of Croatia. Addressing the audience General Šundov said: “New security threats that we are facing require common respond and different approaches. They are evident in a number of various ways at different levels, both global and regional. Taking this into account, we can confirm that the close cooperation among the state actors is more important than ever”. General Šundov stressed the importance and the role of RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation saying: “During the time, from its funding until today, RACVIAC has played an important role. The proof of that is the RACVIAC’s program and activities that are tailored for the members’ needs and requests“. In continuation General Šundov explained how Croatia is organized in order to respond to possible threats and crises, what is important for the decision-making process, indicated some of the challenges and stressed the importance of the National C-WMD Strategy. Speaking about challenges General Šundov said: “The trends are showing that potential adversaries will reach technological parity with us”. He also added: “The employment of new technologies in operations will certainly require adaptive mind-sets, technological awareness and appropriate policies and legal frameworks to facilitate the adoption of new technologies, as well as to ensure the highest level of interoperability for capabilities that will be increasingly connected.“ He concluded saying: “Effective non-proliferation is possible only if we have been continuously strengthening our national systems and wider international cooperation”.

The first day of the Workshop started with a review of the long-term objectives of the RACVIAC C-WMD Network and a review of national strategies development. In continuation the event will be entirely dedicated to discussion on proposals for furthering cooperation.

The Workshop has gathered 25 participants, representatives of the countries that have been engaged in the process of developing C-WMD national strategies for the past 36 months, supported by the experts from U.S European Command (USEUCOM), the U.S. Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), the International Counterproliferation Program (ICP), the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), and the Republic of Croatia.

The C-WMD Network has entered its fourth year of the project and a great majority of participating nations’ C-WMD National Strategies have been approved by their respective governments. Two countries had their strategies already tested and validated at the national level and three more countries will go through the testing and validation process in 2019. The rest of the countries are expected to complete the whole cycle in the coming year.

01 February 2019

US Ambassador visits RACVIAC

On Friday, 01 February 2019, H.E. Mr W. Robert Kohorst, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Croatia, visited RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation. Ambassador Kohorst was accompanied by the Political Officer Mr Daniel Carroll.

After a presentation on RACVIAC history, mission and accomplishments RACVIAC Director MG (Ret.) Jeronim Bazo provided further explanations related to the nature, aim and process of development of RACVIAC Programme of activities, emphasizing that apart from promoting dialogue and cooperation between the SEE countries networking has always been a very important aspect of RACVIAC overall aims in order to exchange information and harmonize practices and procedures.

MG (ret.) Bazo also took the opportunity to express appreciation to Ambassador Kohorst for the support that USA, as a RACVIAC Observer, is providing to the Centre, especially to the C-WMD Network project launched in 2015 with the aim of facilitating the development of national WMD counter-proliferation strategies and management of response plans.

Director briefly summarized the progress and achievements of the C-WMD Network project underlining that it has entered its second phase since most of the participating nations’ C-WMD National Strategies have been approved by their respective governments.

In continuation some aspects of future cooperation that will contribute to safe and stable SEE region were discussed.

Ambassador Kohorst thanked for the information provided and expressed his appreciation for RACVIAC contribution to the security of the SEE region as a whole.

29 January 2019

RACVIAC Director visits Bosnia and Herzegovina

On 29 January 2019 Director of RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo paid courtesy visits to the Ministry of Security, Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo.

During the meeting at the Ministry of Security MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo acquainted Minister Dragan Mektić with RACVIAC activities in 2019 and availed himself of the opportunity to thank Bosnia and Herzegovina for its ongoing support. Mr Mektić highlighted that RACVIAC serves as an efficient regional platform for discussion on several contemporary security challenges, indicating that the Centre should continue with the activities related to the prevention of radicalization and extremism, cyber security, migrations, etc. Both expressed hope that this cooperation will be further enhanced in the forthcoming period thus facilitating the integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina into the EU.

During his visit to the Ministry of Defence Ms Marina Pendeš said that Euro-Atlantic integrations are of utmost importance for Bosnia and Herzegovina. She reiterated the readiness of the Ministry of Defence to continue cooperating with RACVIAC as well as to organize joint activities. MG (ret.) Bazo also thanked the Minister for the strong support and active participation in all RACVIAC events. He briefly presented RACVIAC Programme for 2019 emphasizing the focus of some activities for this year as well as their importance. MG (ret.) Bazo underlined that Euro-Atlantic integrations are the best way of preserving stability and security in the region.

At the meeting held in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the Deputy Minister Mr Josip Brkić expressed satisfaction with RACVIAC as a platform that works pro-actively and encourages Euro-Atlantic integrations. Deputy Minister added that the MFA wishes to further strengthen cooperation with RACVIAC and is open to share expertize and ideas regarding activities and projects to be implemented at the Centre. At the end RACVIAC Director underlined the full dedication of RACVIAC to enhance networking and foster cooperation and dialogue and thus contribute to overall stability and security in the SEE region.

During his stay in Sarajevo MG (ret.) Bazo also visited the European Union Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina where he met Mr Filip De Ceuninck, Regional CT/Security Advisor at the European Union Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina with whom he discussed possible areas of future cooperation.

28 January 2019

RACVIAC Director visits Croatian Ministry of Defence

On 28 January 2019 RACVIAC Director MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo paid an inaugural visit to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of the Republic of Croatia Mr Damir Krstičević.

At the beginning the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Mr Damir Krstičević congratulated MG (ret.) Bazo for his appointment adding that over the years RACVIAC has proven itself as an important platform for security dialogue in the region by connecting politicians, members of academia, Subject Matter Experts and the civil society.

Speaking about RACVIAC mission the Minister availed himself of this opportunity to underline that Croatia as the host nation greatly appreciates RACVIAC work and will continue to support it as a relevant multinational forum for exchange of knowledge and experience on contemporary security threats in SEE, contributing financially, with personnel and expertise. The Minister also expressed his hope that, due to the changed security paradigm, RACVIAC will come up with some new initiatives and projects in the near future thus further improving and enhancing its role in SEE.

MG (ret.) Bazo expressed his appreciation on behalf of the Organization for the constant and strong support that Croatia has been providing to RACVIAC since its inception in 2000. He emphasized that the Centre is and will continue to be fully committed to supporting the ultimate goal for SEE countries: full membership in Euro-Atlantic institutions.

Both of them agreed that the only way to achieve this is by working together and enhancing regional cooperation, networking and capacity building.

The Assistant Minister for Defence Policy Mr Petar Mihatov , BG Denis Tretinjak, Head of J5 of the Croatian Armed Forces General Staff, and RACVIAC Deputy Director BG Gordana Garašić, also attended the meeting.

17 January 2019

German Ambassador visits RACVIAC

On Thursday, 17 January 2019, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Republic of Croatia, H.E. Dr Robert Klinke, visited RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation. He was accompanied by LTC Dirk Bocklet, the German Defence Attaché to Croatia.

The guests were welcomed by RACVIAC Director, MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo, Deputy Director BG Gordana Garašić, and RACVIAC senior staff members.

Following the presentation covering the history, mission, annual Programme, and accomplishments of the Centre, MG (ret.) Bazo provided additional explanation related to the Programme of activities emphasizing that in the future they will reflect even more the Members’ needs and requests, especially in terms of supporting Euro-Atlantic integrations of SEE aspiring countries. He also took the opportunity to express his appreciation on behalf of the Organization for the constant and invaluable contribution and support that Germany has been providing to RACVIAC since its inception in terms of finances, expertise and overall support.

Speaking about RACVIAC mission and its role in the region, H.E. Dr Robert Klinke availed himself of this opportunity to underline that RACVIAC proved to be an important and prominent actor that contributes to security and stability in SEE.

Ambassador Klinke also took the opportunity to reassure RACVIAC of German’s commitment and continued political support not only in the Arms Control area but also in other areas that contribute to confidence and security building, and enable it to become an even stronger think-tank on regional security issues.