News 2018

19 April 2018

39th MAG Meeting held in RACVIAC

The 39th MAG Meeting, the semi-annual meeting of the Multinational Advisory Group (MAG), RACVIAC steering body, took place in Rakitje on 19 April 2018. The meeting, which gathered the member countries of the MAG, was organized by the MAG Chairmanship of the Republic of Croatia.

The Meeting was officially opened by the MAG Chairperson Ambassador Amir Muharemi, Croatian Assistant Minister of Foreign and European Affairs.

The meeting started with a brief presentation of the Director’s Annual Report by the Director of RACVIAC, Ambassador Haydar Berk, who highlighted the most significant achievements gained in the reporting period. He informed the audience that the Centre successfully conducted 28 activities in 2017. Ambassador Berk 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, IAEA, UNODC, etc. Ambassador also emphasized that RACVIAC is a part of both the Western Balkan Border Security Initiative and the Western Balkan Counter-Terrorism Initiative which represent two of the three prominent pillars of the Internal Integrative Security Governance, an initiative endorsed by the EU and led by DCAF Ljubljana.

Ambassador Berk pointed out that RACVIAC will continue developing projects that are contributing to regional stability, transparency and security abiding by RACVIAC main areas of interest: arms control, C-WMD Network project, countering terrorism and violent extremism, foreign terrorist fighters, border and security management, democratic oversight and accountability, human rights and gender equality, cyber security, building integrity and fighting corruption and energy security.

Furthermore, Director took the opportunity to thank all Members, Associate Members, Observers, international organizations and partners for their continuous support and contribution to the Centre. He expressed his appreciation to the active Associate Members, Republic of Austria, Federal republic of Germany, Hungary and Norway for their support for RACVIAC Programme, as well as to the United States of America and the Republic of Croatia for their invaluable contribution and cooperation in the C-WMD Network Initiative implementation and Cyber Security Course.

Director’s presentation was followed by the presentations by RACVIAC Programme Managers and Leaders, LtCol Servet Aya, Ms Ivana Barbara Blažević, Ms Ana Ezhova Krzhaloska, and Mr Boško Rotim, with regard to the respective Programme achievements and activities conducted in 2017, current status of 2018 Programme and projections for 2019.

In addition, MAG participants were briefed on the RACVIAC Budget realization for 2017, all relevant issues regarding the Budget for 2018, as well as projections for the next four years.

Pursuant to the Agenda Brigadier General Gordana Garašić, 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 adopted the nomination of the Major General Major General (R) Jeronim Bazo from the Republic of Albania as the new Director of RACVIAC for the period 1st November 2018 – 1st November 2021.

13 April 2018

Financial Agreement for 2018 signed with the Federal Republic of Germany

On 13 April 2018 H.E. Mr Thomas E. Schultze, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Republic of Croatia, and H.E. Mr Haydar Berk, RACVIAC Director, signed the Financial Agreement between RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation and the Federal Republic of Germany for the year 2018.

With this Agreement the Federal Republic of Germany allocated funds which will be used to support RACVIAC activities, covering the costs of seminars, courses and workshops, focusing on Cooperative Security Environment and Security Sector Reform Pillars. The identified spectrum of regional needs in the said domains ranges from training of inspectors while providing a chance for practical demonstrations of the knowledge gained on the one hand, to identifying possible contributions of the most relevant, well-functioning Arms Control regimes to regional stabilization on the other hand. The main activities include the “Dayton Article IV Course”, “Vienna Document 11’ Course”, “Open Skies Course”, and “Arms Control Symposium”.

On the other hand, the “Border Security and Management Seminar” and the “Gender Training of the Trainers Course” also received Federal Republic of Germany’s support in order to enhance regional cooperation and efficiency of border management authorities and implementation of the gender perspective in the security sector in South East Europe.

Federal Republic of Germany as an Associate Member of RACVIAC has been a constant, invaluable supporter of the Organization since its inception not only financially but also politically as well as in terms of expertise, thus significantly contributing to enhancing trust and confidence in the region and beyond.

10 April 2018

Proliferation Security Initiative Workshop starts in Split

The “Proliferation Security Initiative Workshop, Split 2018” organized by the Republic of Croatia and the United States of America, with the support of RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation, started on 10 April 2018 in Split, Croatia.

This Workshop is a continuation of the initial C-WMD Network project idea that stemmed from the PSI TTX organized by the Governments of the Republic of Croatia and the United States of America in Zagreb, Croatia in November 2013.

The purpose of the “Proliferation Security Initiative Workshop, Split 2018” is to enhance awareness of the value of the Proliferation Security Initiative. The main objectives of this event are to increase the ability to counter WMD proliferation through the arrangements of the Proliferation Security Initiative and to support the ongoing process of developing C-WMD national strategies.

As the C-WMD Network project is entering the national validation and testing phase of the programme all C-WMD Network participating nations are taking an active part in the abovementioned event.

The Workshop will present participants with a three-phased scenario geared towards providing a forum for sharing of experience and identifying how the Proliferation Security Initiative can best contribute to effective national and regional WMD counterproliferation efforts.

After the three-day Workshop all the C-WMD Network participating nations are staying on for a meeting on Friday, 13 April 2018, organized by RACVIAC. The purpose of the April 13, 2018 meeting is to give the C-WMD Network participating nations the opportunity to continue sharing their experiences in making progress in the process of drafting C-WMD National Strategies.

20 March 2018

Open Skies Course starts in Hungary

The “Open Skies Treaty Aerial Observation Course”, co-organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation and the Hungarian Ministry of Defence, started in Jakabszállás in Hungary on 20 March 2018.

The Open Skies courses have been organized in RACVIAC since 2002 and are some of its most distinctive training events with the purpose to train personnel from SEE countries to plan, organize and execute an Aerial Observation Mission based on the provisions of the Open Skies Treaty thus increasing the administrative capacity in the field of security cooperation.

Opening the Course on behalf of RACVIAC Director Ambassador Haydar Berk, LtC Servet Aya, Programme Manager in RACVIAC CSE Pillar, said that “the Open Skies Treaty, developed during the last years of the Cold War as a mechanism to increase transparency between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, together with the Vienna Document, has gained a newfound relevance in the recent years”. He continued by saying that this Treaty “is one of the most important and effective military-political instruments aimed at building trust and increasing transparency. The South East European region is also a part of it and most of the countries are members of the Open Skies Treaty and benefit from it. It provides important means to gain a greater understanding about military activities and could contribute to a de-escalation of a crisis”, pointed out LtC Aya. At the end he extended his deepest gratitude to Hungary for hosting and co-organising the Course as well as for providing the observation aircraft.

Speaking on behalf of the co-organizer Major General László Domján, Head of Hungarian MoD Defence Policy Department, recalled for the participants the history of the Open Skies Treaty and reflected on its importance. Referring to the changed security environment and increasing security challenges not only in Europe but all over the world as well Major General said that this Treaty is an important instrument that is able to provide greater openness and transparency and to enhance confidence- and security-building measures. He also underlined the significance of belonging to a family of experts on the Open Skies regime and sharing of experiences which is essential to develop and strengthen capabilities and cooperation.

The two-week Course is designed as a combination of a theoretical and a practical part. The theoretical part will provide a comprehensive and detailed overview of the relevant parts of the OST while during the practical part of the Course an Aerial Observation Mission will be planned and carried out over the territory of Hungary using the Open Skies aircraft, the AN-26. The practical phase will take place next week at Kecskemét airport and in the Photolab in Budapest.

The Course has gathered participants from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey and Kosovo⃰ and is supported by the provision of specialists and experts from Germany, Hungary, and Italy.

*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.

13 March 2018

Border Security and Management Seminar begins in RACVIAC

As a continuation of the border security and management event series the “Border Security and Management Seminar”, organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation in partnership with DCAF Ljubljana, is taking place in Rakitje on 13 March 2018.

The purpose of this event is to strengthen capacity building and support the implementation of the Border Security and Management Concept of the OSCE Participating States in South East Europe as well as the DCAF Integrative Internal Security Governance Concept and its Western Balkan Border Security Initiative. By addressing the challenges in border security and management this Seminar is aimed to improve efficiency of the border management authorities in SEE and foster mutual cooperation in mitigating current and potential security threats.

The Seminar will cover a wide array of expertise in the field of national and international policies and mechanisms in cross-border movement and migration management: irregular migration challenges, risk assessment and information management, return and readmission of migrants, migrant interviews and the role of the military in border management.

Opening the Seminar RACVIAC Director Ambassador Haydar Berk said that “although the intensity of migrant flows that have significantly affected Europe during the past several years has diminished, the challenges to the law enforcement and migration authorities caused by the developing dynamics of migration are becoming increasingly diversified. The challenge is even greater since on the one side we need to ensure a free and secure movement of persons, goods, services, and on the other hand we are facing threats of terrorism, smuggling and trafficking in weapons, drugs and human beings.” Ambassador Berk continued by emphasizing that “cross-border security challenges nowadays can be effectively prevented and tackled through interagency and international collaboration only. In that sense, sharing of good practices, cross-border cooperation, transparency and confidence-building constitute the first logical steps towards generating solutions for the benefit of all. This is very important especially when we take into account the fact that our countries and their borders are not identical, each has a particular feature and requests a specific policy response“, said Ambassador Berk.

Seminar introductory speeches were given by Mr Andreas Pichler, Austrian Ministry of Interior Attaché to Croatia and Slovenia, Mr Anton Travner, Director of DCAF Ljubljana and Mr Marco Weiser, Liaison Officer of the German Federal Police for Croatia and Slovenia.

The event has gathered more than 20 participants, police officers and civilian officials responsible for border security and migration from the ministries of interior/security, ministries of finance, representatives of the customs, drug control, border guard/border police national services and other relevant institutions, as well as experts from OSCE and DCAF Ljubljana.

This Seminar is supported and sponsored by the Republic of Austria and the Federal Republic of Germany.

08 March 2018

RACVIAC marks International Women's Day

Today the world is marking International Women's Day and there is a strong global momentum striving for gender parity.

This year the UN is marking it under the theme „Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives”.

With this theme the UN is asking to transform global movement for women’s rights, equality and justice into an action, to empower women in all settings, rural and urban, and celebrate the activists who are working relentlessly to claim women’s rights and realize their full potential.

RACVIAC – Centre for Security cooperation remains fully committed to the promotion of gender equality and inclusiveness. In this regard the Centre continues to organize various activities each year addressing the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and related resolutions on women and peace and security. This year also, for the fifth time, we are organizing a Gender Training of the Trainers Course scheduled for May.

RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation conveys greetings to all women on the occasion of International Women's Day.

05 March 2018

Dayton Article IV Orientation Course begins in Sarajevo

)The “Agreement on Sub-Regional Arms Control (Dayton Article IV) - Orientation Course”, hosted by the Ministry of Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina, started in Sarajevo on Monday, 05 March 2018.

The Course has been organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation since 2001 with the support of the Federal Republic of Germany. 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 the 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.

Opening the Course on behalf of RACVIAC Director Ambassador Haydar Berk LtC Servet Aya, Programme Manager in RACVIAC CSE Pillar, stated that ““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 South Korea 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 LtC Aya.

The Course will last 4 working days and it will consist of a theoretical and a practical part. The practical part will be held in the Armed Forces of Bosna and Hercegovina units in Visoko and Kiseljak. 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 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, and OSCE.

At the initial phase, the Course used to be 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 2014 Signatory Parties took ownership of the Regional Arms Control, Dayton Article IV Agreement thus assuming responsibility for its further development in cooperation with the international partners.

01 March 2018

Advanced SAR Course starts in RACVIAC

The “Search and Rescue (SAR) - On Scene Coordinator (OSC) Advanced Course”, organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation in partnership with the National Protection and Rescue Directorate of the Republic of Croatia as part of the wider Search and Rescue Programme that encompasses a set of tailor-made activities designed for experts involved in the subject of search and rescue, started on 01 March 2018 in RACVIAC.

The purpose of this advanced Course that supports the further development of regional cooperation and builds capabilities in the search and rescue area, is to explore the concrete needs of each participating SAR institution related to the designation, duties and responsibilities of the On-Scene Coordinator (OSC), especially the role of OSC in a mass rescue operation, on-scene communication and when planning and conducting the search.

The Course will also further strengthen the overall SAR capacity in the national SAR structures of the SEE countries and increase the cooperation in civil emergency response pursuant to the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue.

The Course lectures are delivered by an internationally acknowledged SAR expert from the Joint Aviation Authorities Training Organization (JAATO), Mr Brian Brophy, who will share the expertise and best practices in promoting the implementation of the International Conventions related to SAR, in particular the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual for SAR Coordinators.

The Course participants are mid-level representatives, civilian and military, of the relevant institutions from South East Europe that deal with Search and Rescue activities such as defence/Armed forces, national RCC authorities, national directorates for protection and search, civil aviation authorities, ministries of interior, and civil emergency management authorities.

27 February 2018

Basic SAR Course starts in RACVIAC

The “Basic Aeronautical Search and Rescue Course“ started on 27 February 2018 in RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation.

The Course is a continuation of a set of activities jointly organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation and the National Protection and Rescue Directorate (NPRD) of the Republic of Croatia, aimed at capacity building and improvements in the fields of search, rescue and protection, as part of wider cooperation in the SEE region in monitoring and implementing civil emergency measures.

The objective of this activity is to increase the capacities of the relevant public institutions in civil emergency response as well as to further enhance the cooperation among them. The Course will focus on exploring the concrete needs of each participating SAR institution related to aeronautical SAR, in order to launch comprehensive regional SAR development actions. Encouraging and developing possible regional and cross-border cooperation through SAR operations, exchanging experiences and best practices, addressing the common challenges and exploring the potential future steps in the field of protection and rescue in South-Eastern Europe, will be the topics of this activity too.

Opening the Course Ambassador Haydar Berk, RACVIAC Director, said that “RACVIAC has recognized the importance of efficient SAR structures, national and regional alike, and treated this topic as a security issue that should be further discussed and explored. The close regional and wider cooperation among the SEE countries, through dialogue and various forms of coordination, is a strong response to todays’ challenges to international security and defence policy, leading to building of confidence and security among them, and development of synergy among the participants in these activities”, emphasized Ambassador Berk.

Speaking on behalf of the co-organizer Mr Dragan Lozančić, NPRD Director General, said that cooperation and coordination is a key word in this area. Besides that education, training and exercises aimed at capacity building and skills development both on the national and regional or international level are crucial because there are always some aspects of the search and rescue area that should be improved, he added. The Course will also provide a very good opportunity for the participants to gain knowledge and make contacts, in Croatia and across the border, concluded Mr Lozancic.

This event has brought together more than 50 participants, civilian and military, from the relevant SEE institutions dealing with search and rescue activities: defence/armed forces, national RCC authorities, national directorates for protection and search, civil aviation authorities, ministries of interior, civil emergency management authorities, etc.

The necessary expertise and best practices will be delivered by Mr Brian Brophy, SAR Expert from the Joint Aviation Authorities Training Organization (JAATO).

Shortly after this event ends the “Search and Rescue - On Scene Coordinator Advanced Course” will begin on 01 March in RACVIAC.

8 February 2018

Azerbaijani Ambassador Visits RACVIAC

On Thursday, 08 February 2018, H.E. Mr Fakhraddin Gurbanov, the newly appointed 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, Ambassador Haydar Berk, Deputy Director Brigadier General Gordana Garašić, and RACVIAC staff members.

After a presentation on RACVIAC history, mission and accomplishments Ambassador Berk provided further explanation related to the RACVIAC Members' role and development of the Programme of activities. Ambassador emphasized 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 harmonize the practices, rules and procedures and build trust and confidence.

Ambassador Berk also provided additional information related to some of the flagship activities such as energy security that are contributing to dialogue and cooperation in the region.

Ambassador Gurbanov thanked for the information provided and expressed his appreciation for RACVIAC's contribution to the security of the SEE region.

6 February 2018

Chemical Weapons Convention Workshop starts

A Workshop focusing on the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation in partnership with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has started on 06 February 2018 in Rakitje.

The CWC workshops are aimed at promoting the implementation of the CWC in South-Eastern Europe, which directly enhances regional stability, transparency and trust.

The purpose of the 2018 Workshop, fifteenth in a row since 2004, is to discuss relevant issues related to the CWC and provide a broad overview of the CWC implementation procedures with specific focus on the different aspects, and measures in implementing the Convention. OPCW seeks to gain a clear understanding of the measures that are currently in place in the different countries in the region and of the mechanisms deployed by them.

Opening the Workshop Ambassador Haydar Berk, RACVIAC Director said that “this year the main focus will be on „Understanding Non-Proliferation in the CWC Context” and within that comprehensive topic specifically on how to prevent the intentional misuse of chemicals and what to do in case that happens. It is essential to have a complex picture about the issues, the ways of prevention and the players as well as the possible solutions in case such an emergency situation occurs. The Workshop will explore the tools and means to enforce non-proliferation and will give an overview of the related matters. We hope that this Workshop will serve as a favourable environment that will encourage focused discussions”, concluded Ambassador Berk.

Lecturers and experts, Mr Guy Valente and Mr Jan Wuyts from OPCW, Ms Raluca Ginghina from the Romanian Ministry of National Defence, LtC Valentina Ključarić and LtC Dragutin Tušek from the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies “Janko Bobetko” of the Croatian Defence Academy “Dr. Franjo Tuđman”, will provide invaluable insights and expertise in identifying problems and possible solutions while exploring the way ahead.

The event has gathered more than 20 participants, senior/junior military or civilian recommendation-makers dealing with CWC issues and/or those responsible for escorting inspections who will provide a short presentation on how their agencies ensure that dangerous chemicals don’t wind up in the wrong hands.

22 January 2018

Ninth Meeting of the C-WMD Network

The ninth meeting of the RACVIAC C-WMD Network national working/drafting groups titled „C-WMD National Strategies – Current Threat Environment & Cyber Elements of a C-WMD Strategy“ started on 22 January 2018.

RACVIAC has been organizing these meetings since 2015 with the continuous support from U.S European Command (USEUCOM), U.S. Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), the International Counterproliferation Program (ICP), European Union, and Republic of Croatia.

Opening the meeting RACVIAC Director Ambassador Haydar Berk said that based on the agreed Roadmap for the development of national strategies to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction the project is about to complete its drafting phase, which will be followed by a validation and testing period, and that he is pleased to see the progress made so far. Since each workshop covers the different aspects needed for developing National strategies RACVIAC is trying to gather experts in specific fields and lines of work to share their knowledge and experience. Thus, Ambassador Berk expressed a special welcome to the experts from INTERPOL, Frontex, and the World Health Organization.

Welcoming the participants on behalf of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia Mr Petar Mihatov, Assistant Minister for Defence Policy, said that SEE is facing different security threats: interethnic tensions, quasi nationalism, fragile state institutions, underdeveloped civil societies, corruption and organized crime, as well as contemporary security challenges such as migration. He continued by saying that the EU and NATO need to realize that a stable SEE is in their interest and that they need to engage more in the region. On the other hand SEE countries need to carry out the reforms and assume political responsibility to cope with the security challenges, he stressed.

LtC Charity Hartley from DTRA said that SEE is really setting the example for regional partnership in the WMD arena.

The event is divided into two parts. The first day is organized as a roundtable aimed to overview the current threat environment and its impact on SEE. In continuation the meeting will continue facilitating the development of national C-WMD Strategies and Action Plans focusing on cyber elements of a C-WMD Strategy, which will be the central theme of the event.

More than 60 participants, mostly members of the core national working/drafting groups and experts working on cyber issues, legal issues, and intelligence, are attending this four-day event.

18 January 2018

MAG POC Meeting held in RACVIAC

A Meeting of Point of Contacts of RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation Multinational Advisory Group was held on 18 January 2018, with the aim to coordinate and discuss details related to the activities planned in RACVIAC Programme 2018.

At the opening of the Meeting RACVIAC Director Ambassador Haydar Berk welcomed the representatives from Members, Associate members and participants saying that the Centre had an intensive 2017 having conducted 28 activities and 2018 also be a busy period. He pointed out that RACVIAC is determined to increase its efforts to foster security dialogue and cooperation in SEE in 2018 as well by focusing on contemporary security challenges, such as weapons of mass destruction, foreign terrorist fighters, cyber security, border security, and different aspects of arms control and security sector reform.

Following the introductory address by RACVIAC Director, RACVIAC Programme Managers Col Servet Aya, (Cooperative Security Environment with focus on Arms Control Pillar) and Ms Ana Ezhova Krzhaloska (International and Regional Cooperation with focus on Euroatlantic Integration Pillar), and Activity Manager Maj Božo Dukarić (Security Sector Reform Pillar) presented the Programme for 2018 within their respective Pillars and projection for 2019. Ms Ivana Barbara Blažević presented activities planned in the RACVIAC C-WMD Network project as well as its roadmap for the future.

Later on Major Jasminka Šoić, Chief of Administration and Finance Cell, provided information regarding the current financial situation while putting emphasis on the Programme part of the Budget 2018.

In continuation the meeting focused on a discussion regarding specific aspects of member countries’ and contributing partners’ participation related to the academic and financial support to activities. This opportunity was used to share information on possibilities of improving the quality and visibility of RACVIAC activities by upgrading the participant level and engagement. Furthermore, the current stage of ongoing preparations of jointly organized and hosted activities was consulted.

Closing the event Ambassador Berk thanked the Members, Associate members and participants representatives for all valuable contribution made to RACVIAC so far and added that the Centre counts on their active engagement and support.

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