News 2020

15 December 2020

Physical Security and Stockpile Management Seminar

The on-line Physical Security and Stockpile Management (PSSM) Seminar titled “Current PSSM Issues and Ammunition Management in Nutshell” was organized by RACVIAC-Centre for Security Cooperation on 15 December 2020.

The main purpose of this event was to present the current status and the expectations for the future in the field of PSSM/ Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) as well as to provide a brief overview on ammunition management.

This year’s PSSM Seminar was set up with the perceived needs of the SEE region in mind and of course, within the framework defined by our ‘brave new world’ in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Opening the Seminar, RACVIAC Director MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo said: “The safe storage and disposal of surplus and aging weapons and munitions continues to be a matter of serious concern for the South East European (SEE) region. National governments and international organizations have been addressing this issue for at least two decades already, concentrating significant efforts on reducing the risks and hopefully heading towards the final elimination of this problem. We believe that only a comprehensive, continuous effort, especially in terms of providing appropriate education and training, can contribute to the eradication of this serious problem and we are using our modest means to get us all closer to the ultimate solution.” He continued by saying: “At the very beginning, the main focus concerning PSSM was on awareness raising, now we can conclude that a good job has been done during the first phase. However the job is not completed yet. At present, in this second phase, we can be more concentrated on the sharing of lessons learned and experiences gained, evaluating the existing and future, still outstanding capabilities with the idea of finding a common path for further enhancing regional cooperation and assistance in this field for the benefit of the whole SEE region and beyond. Sharing of experiences, understanding the full picture is a basis for cooperation, “concluded Director Bazo.

The excellent lecturers and PSSM and SALW experts from key international organisations in this field, like ITF Enhancing Human Security (ITF), UNDP SEESAC, Small Arms Survey, Golden West Humanitarian Foundation, Ammunition Management Advisory Team (AMAT - the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) Technical Assistance Mechanism), OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Bundeswehr Verification Centre as well as national authorities from South East European countries, who presented current PSSM issues, challenges for efficient SALW reduction, the status of some ongoing projects (EU-LAS project), views from the field, risk management, monitoring and evaluation of ammunition storage facilities, and international SALW and Conventional Ammunition (CA) training. The participants also had an opportunity to share their national status and current issues as well as their national plans, needs and expectations in PSSM field.

This virtual event gathered more than 30 participants, military personnel and civilians who are involved in the SALW/CA national stockpile management cycle, coming from of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Germany, North Macedonia, Slovenia, Turkey, and representatives of EUFOR, SEEBRIG, US-EUCOM, and OSCE mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Surplus of SALW and CA that have exceeded their shelf life presents a continued threat. For the past 10 years RACVIAC has been promoting the Physical Security and Stockpile Management (PSSM) of arms, ammunitions and explosives in the South East European region. The main purpose of these activities has been to train technical personnel to handle national stockpiles, implementing operational procedures and exchanging ideas on potential improvements of security and management, as well as to introduce the best international practices in PSSM. The previous PSSM Seminar, held in 2017, was based on checking further possibilities for a comprehensive capacity building programme which would aim to raise national capacities and national ownership.

10 December 2020

Workshop on NATO European Security Challenges

The on-line workshop “NATO European Security Challenges and their Implication on South East European Region” was held in RACVIAC-Centre for Security Cooperation on 10 December 2020.

This workshop aimed at reviewing the newest geopolitical developments in the NATO European security cooperation and their impact on the SEE region, with special attention to hybrid warfare, organized crime, good governance, corruption, migration, and China’s influence in the Balkans.

It was opened with brief welcome address given by RACVIAC Director MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo, who said that the security environment in Europe was changing in fundamental ways, including a steady growth of security challenges emanating from various fields and areas, and thanked all the security policy and academic experts for their support in organizing this event.

Workshop started with the presentation given by Professor Dr Ralf Rollof, George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, who spoke about new strategic landscape and the history of EU-NATO relations as an essential partnership, common projects in the areas of hybrid threats, operational cooperation, cyber security, capacity building, defence capabilities, industry and research and exercises. Dr Roloff said that one of the current issues was transatlantic tensions as that slowed down NATO-EU cooperation especially in the area of defence capability building. Another issue was related to the role and the nature the European Defence Union will have in the future and the way it could impact transatlantic bonds. He said that NATO and EU were essential partners that should overcome remaining obstacles and find common understanding. New Biden administration represents an opportunity for rebuilding these relations and even closer NATO-EU cooperation in the Balkan region, as one of the regions that the focus will be on, could be expected in the future.

The second Speaker was Dr Vlasta Zekulić, from NATO HQ Brussels, who spoke about Countering Hybrid Warfare measures, especially those applied in SEE. Providing examples, she spoke about the nature of hybrid warfare and NATO’s policies and actions to counter state or non-state actors applying hybrid strategies. Referring to the SEE region, Ms Zekulic said there were many actor whose target was SEE region, and mentioned Russian INFOPS and Media Activities, China’s economic and military investments, and Saudi strengthening of political Islam. The reason behind was to keep the region permanently on the cusp of destabilization, making it unattractive for the West and not suitable for further Euro-Atlantic integrations. She also explained how NATO responded to hybrid activities in the SEE through Information operations, research and education and deploying Counter Hybrid Support Teams.

Dr Valbona Zeneli from George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies spoke about Good Governance and its impact on SEE security. She underlined that on EU level, as well as in SEE, there were four areas identified as most vulnerable to corruption: public tenders, financing of political parties, defence sector industry and friendly business environment. She said it was the existing public perception. According to the report done in 2014 on EU level, the findings were surprisingly negative: 74% of Europeans think that corruption exists, while 73% thinks that the public sector is more susceptible to corruption. She concluded that it was political leadership’s responsibility to change that public perception.

The work of Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, in managing migration crisis, with special focus on South East European countries that serve mostly as a transit route for migrants on their way to EU and future priorities, was presented by Mr Bogdan Živaljević, from FRONTEX HQ Warsaw. He said that according to general trends the pressure at the EU's external borders with the Western Balkans remained influenced by the migrant accumulations in the extended region, arrivals via the Greek-Turkish borders and the continued overcrowding of the reception centres on the Aegean islands prompting a need for periodic transfers to the mainland. After COVID-19 curfews and movement restrictions had been eased, migratory pressure by non-regional migrants increased in June and stabilised at high levels towards October on most of the routes. Regarding the specific trends update he reported that the Hungarian-Serbian, Romanian-Serbian and Croatian-B&H borders remained under high migration pressure. He added that with more than 17 000 migrants already present in the Balkans the new arrivals added up to a presence of 120 000 migrants / refugees on the islands and the Greek mainland, as estimated by UNHCR.

Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties the two last speakers, Professor Dr Barthélémy Courmont, from the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs and Dr Jana Arsovska, from John Jay College of Criminal Justice from New York were not able to deliver their presentations.

The workshop gathered more than 40 participants from 12 countries, mostly representatives of governmental institutions, and members of the academic community involved in addressing the contemporary security challenges and policy development processes the region will be focused on. The fact is that the SEE countries becoming members of Euro-Atlantic community will change the way NATO and EU look at this partnership.

9 December 2020

Conference on Conventional Arms Control in Europe

An on - line event titled “Conventional Arms Control in Europe with focus on Sub-Regional Arms Control Agreement” was held in RACVIAC on 9 December 2020.

The aim of the Conference was to focus on the Agreement in the context of its relevance to the SEE region and the parties' responses to implementation issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the recent developments on arms control in Europe.

The Conference began with the welcome address given by RACVIAC Director Jeronim Bazo who first explained the reason behind organizing this event saying that this year marked the 25th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Agreement, and the next year marked the 25th anniversary of the Sub-Regional Arms Control Agreement (Article IV, Annex 1-B to the Dayton Agreement). “We wanted to organize this particular Conference to mark both special occasions as well as to underline the relevance of this Agreement in enhancing regional stability, transparency and trust in the SEE”, said RACVIAC Director. “As the only organization providing training for future Sub-Regional Arms Control inspectors with a practical part, RACVIAC has conducted 24 Dayton Article IV Orientation Courses and trained more than 500 military officers over the last 20 years, which also confirms the Signatories’ good cooperation and alignment to the Agreement. Furthermore, this Agreement is not relevant only for South East Europe, given the fact that it is a unique mechanism of post-conflict recovery in the whole OSCE area and can serve as good model for other regions as well“, he emphasized.

The Director also took the opportunity to express his gratitude to all the representatives of signatory countries, Members of Parliament, Assistant Minister, generals and ambassadors who took part at this event.

Mr Ante Bačić, envoy of the Speaker of the Croatian Parliament and a Member of Defence Committee, addressed the Conference’s participants saying that the Dayton peace Agreement had a crucial, historical role in establishing peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and laid down the institutional framework for an independent country. Speaking about the Sub-Regional Arms Control Mr Bačić said it was one of the most effective agreements of this kind, which had made great contribution to the post-conflict recovery of this part of South East Europe. Mr Bačić also underlined that the experiences gained during negotiation process and its successful implementation over the past 25 years could provide a useful contribution to the international community’s efforts to establish similar mechanisms in other parts of Europe and beyond.

In accordance with the Conference’s agenda, the first panel was dedicated to the current security challenges and the relevance of Sub-Regional Arms Control Agreement in relation to modern security challenges. Brigadier General Peter Braunstein, Director of the German Verification Centre presented Lessons Identified with the resumption of Arms Control Activities under COVID 19 and Mr Robin Mossinkoff, Head of FSC Support Centre, OSCE, spoke about the importance of the Sub-Regional Arms Control Agreement and the role of the OSCE in it. At the end of the first panel, Mr Momir Brajić, Head of Department for NATO and PfP, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina presented challenges related to the implementation of Sub-Regional Arms Control Agreement during COVID-19 pandemic.

In the second panel, the representatives of the signatory countries: Mr Momir Brajic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr Igor Kuželka, Minister Counsellor, Head of the Department for CSDP, Security Challenges and Arms Control, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia, Ms Helena Vizi, First Secretary, Directorate General for Multilateral Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro, and Ms Svjetlana Šimičić, Head of Arms Control Division, Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia, spoke about the history, regional ownership, implementation and the future of the Agreement.

The Conference gathered more than 30 participants, representatives of governmental institutions responsible for the implementation of Arms Control treaties, members of parliaments and arms control experts from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Germany, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, OSCE and SEEBRIG.

8 December 2020

Strategic Crisis Communication Course held

One-day on-line Strategic Crisis Communication Course was organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation in partnership with the Croatian Defence Academy “Dr. Franjo Tuđman”, on 8 December 2020.

The Course focused on Crisis Communication as one of the key elements in the crisis management process, which is of particular importance for our institutions while dealing with the current coronavirus crisis. The primary goal was to present the possibilities of strategic communication during crises to participants and to motivate them to use them properly in practice.

Opening the Course RACVIAC Director MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo thanked the Croatian Military Academy and Professors Damir Jugo from Edward Bernays University College and Igor Kanižaj from Faculty of Political Science in Zagreb for their invaluable support in organizing this event. He continued by saying: “The Covid-19 pandemic has severely tested the leadership and communication abilities of political leaders globally. Providing an effective response to the global pandemic has required leaders to demonstrate not only effective planning and coordination skills, but the ability to communicate clear consistent messages in an empathic manner as well. The language used by leaders can play a critical role in shaping individual behaviour and the tone of the message can instil confidence and offer reassurance to the wider public.” Referring to the role of media Director Bazo said: “In that regard, the media play a crucial role in disseminating information about a crisis but also help frame the crisis, educate the public and report on the effectiveness of the crisis response. However, there is the potential for distortion and sensationalism, particularly in the absence of clear, consistent and accurate information from leaders”, he concluded.

The first lecture was delivered by Dr Damir Jugo, Dean of Edward Bernays University College who spoke about the Fundamentals of Strategic Crisis Communication. He explained the entire crisis communication cycle as well as the activities and strategies that one organization could undertake and use in the pre-crisis, crisis and post-crisis phase of communication. Professor Jugo underlined that crises drastically increased the people’s need for information but at the same time, limited their capacity of processing them. He also said that in order to significantly improve the communication outcomes during crisis it was of crucial importance to have continuous dialogue between an organization and its public before, during and after a negative event. Quickness, consistency and openness in communication is crucial through all the phases of crisis. “Crisis is not about what has actually happened, but about what people think happened and that’s why the level of public confidence if the best tool to measure efficiency of Crisis Communication Management”, emphasized prof. Jugo.

Dr Jugo's lecture is available here

Dr Igor Kanižaj, Associate Professor at the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Political Science, Department of Journalism and Media Production presented new perspective on the role of media and social networks in our societies. He spoke also about the trust in media, saying that according to the research done by European Broadcasting Union in 2020 40% of the EU population had low or no trust in media. When it came to social networks they were generally not trusted across Europe: 32 out of 33 European countries have negative net trust index. Prof Kanižaj said that in any crisis, and same goes with the current coronavirus pandemic, media were just one of the many stakeholders in Crisis Communication. He emphasized that, in order to manage crisis successfully, it was very important to build proactive, long-term, and honest relationship with media.

Dr Kanižaj's lecture is available here

In continuation, two case studies presenting good and bad example of crisis communication were presented and discussed.

The main conclusion were: Communication is fundamental to crisis management. It provides clarity and direction for employees, customers and partners in an otherwise uncertain and confusing time. The key role of strategic communication during a crisis is to stabilize and advance the organization by inspiring confidence, earning trust and engaging stakeholders. Clear, consistent communication is vital to successfully maintain business continuity and recover.

The Course brought together more than 20 participants from Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Georgia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, SEEBRIG and Regional Anticorruption Initiative.

1 December 2020

Counterproliferation Finance Investigations Course held

Based on the conclusions of the last year’s Course and a series of events organized within the C-WMD Network, and in close partnership with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) from the USA, RACVIAC organized the Counterproliferation Finance Investigations Course from 30 November -1 December 2020.

The primary objective of this Course was to introduce enforcement authorities to financial techniques used to pursue transnational investigations related to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and dual-use material.

“Countering the illicit WMD proliferation and their related materials will not be effective unless all aspects linked to their development, transporting and procurement are addressed properly. One of these aspects is financing, which is so crucial for the procurement of the illicit goods and the technology needed for the development of the WMD capabilities”, said RACVIAC director MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo opening the Course. He continued saying: “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 and against terrorism or other forms of destabilizing attacks”. Director also took the opportunity to express gratitude to Mr Jeff Outlaw from PAE and Mr Keith Falcetti from the USA International Counterproliferation Program, for their generous personal support for this event, as well the team of instructors from the USA who shared their invaluable expertise during this Course.

During two days, the participants had the opportunity to develop understanding of proliferation finance, traditional international financial systems, alternative financial mechanisms, money laundering, use of virtual currency as well as to explore the use of sanctions and asset forfeiture and financial investigative techniques to counter transnational proliferation finance.

This highly specialized Course gathered 22 participants, mid-level law enforcement officials, national police investigators, prosecutors, analysts, customs and border enforcement officials, and government financial sector personnel from Albania, Croatia, Germany, Montenegro, Turkey and Kosovo*.

* 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.

17 November 2020

Conference on Security Challenges for Europe held

The on-line Conference on Security Challenges for Europe, organized by RACVIAC- Centre for Security Cooperation, together with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Office in Croatia and the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies was held today.

The Conference main objectives were to examine the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on international and Euroatlantic security, to share national considerations, experiences and responses and to highlight the role of strategic communication in the context of ongoing coronavirus crisis information and disinformation campaigns. It also strove to find ideas and possible solutions for creating more efficient institutional policies and, consequently, more resilient societies.

Opening the Conference RACVIAC Director MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo extended his sincere gratitude to Mr Holger Haibach, the Head of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation Office in Croatia and George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, in particular to Doctor Rhodes, who has significantly contributed to the high level of expertise of this event.

Referring to the security policy implications of the coronavirus crisis, as one of the greatest global challenges the international community has faced since the Second World War, Director Bazo said: “There is no doubt that since its emergence COVID-19 has deeply changed our societies and impacted the global geopolitical landscape. Around the globe, states are taking recourse to drastic measures in order to stop the spread of the COVID-19. Borders are being closed, exports of vital goods are prohibited, personal liberties and rights are reduced, civil defence and military forces are being mobilized, and enormous measures to support entire economies are being implemented.”

After the short welcome addresses given by co-organizers, Mr Holger Heibach, and Mr Matthew Rhodes, H.E. Ambassador Robert Kohorst, US Ambassador to Croatia, in his introductory messages said that collaborative efforts remained even more important during a time of crisis where attention often shifted internally to immediate needs. “The vital need for strategic communication between nations and collaboration during crisis cannot be overlooked in this unpredictable and changing times,” emphasized Ambassador Kohorst.

German Ambassador to Croatia, H.E. Robert Klinke in his introductory remarks said that crisis like current COVID-19 pandemic had many influences on security and stability, and represented one of the major security challenges nowadays, along with climate change, cyber threats, terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction etc. He also pointed out that rules-based multilateralism was the key to overcoming global challenges.

Conference Keynote Speaker, Mr Tim Judah, Balkans Correspondent, the Economist magazine, spoke about the international actors' interests and influences on the regional security and stability, and other political and security developments that happened in South East Europe during the corona virus pandemic, emphasizing some persistent security challenges in the region such as misinformation and disinformation, as well as strong China and Russia’s influence on some of the countries in SEE.

After the Keynote speech, Conference continued with the Panel Discussion on “COVID-19: Implications for Regional and Euro Atlantic Security” moderated by Dr. Valbona Zeneli, Strategic Initiatives Chair, George C. Marshall Center.

Panel speakers were Dr. Gordan Akrap, President, Hybrid Warfare Research Institute, Croatia; Dr. Johannes Urban, Head of Security Policy, State Chancellery of Bavaria; Mrs Alida Vracic, Executive Director, Populari, Bosnia-Herzegovina; Mr Milan Jovanović, Senior Researcher, Digital Forensics Center, Atlantic Council of Montenegro; Ambassador Iztok Mirošič, Ambassador at Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Slovenia; and Mrs Daniela Braun, Policy Advisor for Foreign and Security Affairs, Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

During the discussion they addressed and examined several questions on how the pandemic has shaped international and regional security: What will be the long-term implications of this crisis on international relations and global and regional security dynamics? What are the public health challenges? How is the economic development affected? What role institutional information strategies have had and what are the effects of disinformation campaigns? How can security and defence institutions contribute to overcoming this crisis? What are the best tools to use and strategies to adopt to face the current and anticipated challenges?

The Conference brought together 60 participants, primarily from SEE countries - senior level national security policy makers and subject matter experts from governmental institutions, non-governmental organizations, think-thanks and academic community involved in addressing the contemporary security challenges and policy development processes.

This event was a continuation of an established series of activities aimed at enabling open and comprehensive discussions on emerging security challenges for Europe and South East European countries in particular. It was the eighth Conference so far conducted thus maintaining the regional platform for addressing transformation processes in South East European (SEE) countries in view of the EU and NATO membership responsibilities and institutional readiness, primarily considering the required security sector reform activities within the context of contemporary security challenges.

10 November 2020

On-line event on Deradicalization and Resocialization of FTFs

The on-line activity titled “Deradicalization and Resocialization of Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) in the Western Balkans - Case studies” was organized by RACVIAC-Centre for Security Cooperation in partnership with the Regional Cooperation Council on 10 November 2020.

The main purpose of the Seminar was to address the issues of deradicalization and resocialization of FTFs and their family members in order to obtain some answers to the phenomenon which directly affects the Western Balkans societies and to further coordinate efforts in this field.

Opening the Seminar MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo said: “Challenges for Rehabilitation, Resocialization, and Reintegration of FTFs returnees to the Western Balkans are great but not impossible to overcome. And that’s why we are here today: to exchange our experiences and good practices in dealing with these issues, which we believe will help us develop better programs for their rehabilitation and reintegration into society. Furthermore, the role of community, families and all interested actors is very important in addressing this phenomena. Today we intend to discuss specific approaches to empower and support these actors and to make recommendations in support of the implementation of a whole-of-society approach within the framework of overall Prevention and Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE) strategies”, said Director Bazo

Speaking on behalf of the Regional Cooperation Council, Mr Amer Kapetanović, Head of Political Department, referring to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Vienna said that this topic has unfortunately gained wider attention again and reminded us that we have to be resilient and learn how to prevent these threats. When we are speaking about deradicalization and resocialization we have to think about very complex background and set of ideas that cause radicalization. The driving force behind radicalization, sometimes invisible, is hatred, fake news, and false narratives, and we have to take this into consideration, emphasized Mr Kapetanović.

Addressing the participants on behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany, who is financially supporting RACVIAC activities on countering terrorism, LTC Dirk Bocklet, Defence Attaché of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Republic of Croatia, said that unfortunately anyone who thought terrorism would disappear during coronavirus pandemic was wrong. On the contrary, radicalization has been accelerated. The topic remains relevant and affects us all. Only together we can develop ideas for coordinated strategy, concluded LTC Bocklet.

While all the countries of the Western Balkans have been affected by the foreign fighter phenomenon, some of them have shown a higher vulnerability to mobilization into jihadi militias. Almost two thirds of known Western Balkans foreign fighters and family members originate from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo*. As of the beginning of 2020, some 485 nationals of Western Balkans countries had returned home or were repatriated. At least 260 others have been reported killed, although the actual number of combat casualties is likely higher due to underreporting. The Western Balkans contingent remaining in Syria and Iraq is composed of about 475 individuals, and it is dominated by children - including many born in Syria and Iraq - and women. According to official sources over half of those remaining - about 260 individuals - are nationals of Bosnia and Herzegovina or their children with legitimate citizenship claims. After ISIS has failed to achieve the goal of establishing a caliphate and after losing territories in Syria and Iraq, more research needs to focus on evolving trends and what remains of ISIS’ ideology and online recruitment strategies in the Western Balkans.

The first session started with the case study of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mr Mario Janaček, Head of Department for Countering Terrorism, Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, presented national deradicalization and resocialization programme lessons learned and challenges related to repatriated FTFs and their family members. He underlined that the activities taken at local community level are the most complex, sensitive and challenging and lack resources, capacity and support. Basic roadmap for creating deradicalization and resocialization programme should focus on risks and needs of returnees and should have a clear vision of all the steps that have to be taken and all the actors to be involved. Mutual trust and understanding at all levels and between all actors is crucial, emphasized Mr Janaček.

In the next session the Kosovo* Case Study was presented by Dr Floran Qehaja, Kosovo* Centre for Security Studies (KCSS). Dr Qehaja gave an overview of the deradicalization and resocialization measures taken and said that, based on rough estimates from interviews with Kosovar institutions and published reports an estimated 242, out of 403, Kosovars have been repatriated from Syria, including FTFs, children and non-combatants. Kosovo* made huge progress in countering violent extremism and there was an overall societal cohesion in fighting the phenomenon, he said. Referring to the terrorist attacks that happened all over the Europe recently Dr Qehaja said that the potential of terrorist attacks in the region is much lower due to its strategic irrelevance for terrorists. On the other hand regional countries face an extensive disinformation campaign and growing elements of right-wing extremism and nationalism as well as a very limited security cooperation between the countries in the region. Although a lot has been done so far there is a need to improve some things such as: review existing policies, assess deradicalization efforts in correctional services, improve coordination, increase involvement of municipalities & civil society, underlined Dr Qehaja.

In the last session Mrs Lejdi Dervishi from the Albanian Coordination Center for Countering Violent Extremism provided information about their national action plan, preventive actions, fields of intervening, measures taken, achievements and lessons learned. Mrs Dervishi underlined that increasing the institutional awareness of reintegration processes, primarily at local level, and engagement of all institutions and other community actors – the whole-of-society and multiagency approach - are crucial. This event, that gathered almost 50 participants, was a continuation of the series of activities that RACVIAC, together with the Regional Cooperation Council and the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, has been organizing since 2015.

* 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.

4 November 2020

Open Skies Course starts in RACVIAC

The theoretical part of the “Open Skies Treaty Aerial Observation Course”, organized by RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation with the support of the Hungarian Ministry of Defence and the Ministries of Defence of some other Members/Associate Members, started in RACVIAC on 04 November 2020.

This three-day on-line Course is aimed at training 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, RACVIAC Director MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo, said: “Developed during the last years of the Cold War as mechanisms to increase transparency between the NATO and the Warsaw Pact, the Open Skies Treaty, together with the Vienna Document, has gained a newfound relevance in the recent decades and years.” He continued by saying: “It has been one of the most important and effective military-political tools aimed at building trust and increasing transparency worldwide. The Treaty provides important means to gain a greater understanding about military activities and could contribute to the prevention and de-escalation of a crisis”, director Bazo said.

Referring to the changed security environment and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Director thanked the lecturers and arms control experts from the OSCE Mission of Germany, the MoD of Hungary as well as the verification centres of Croatia, Germany and Hungary, who stand ready to share their experience and knowledge.

This is the first time that RACVIAC runs only theoretical part of the Course but nevertheless, it will include some practical planning aspects as well. In order to make the Course even more effective, the presenters will put the issue of the Treaty in the wider context of Arms Control and will also share some insights concerning the recent 4th OS Review Conference which took place on 7-9 October 2020 in Vienna.

The Course has gathered more than 30 participants coming from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Slovenia, and Turkey and is supported by nine specialists and experts.

Open Skies courses have been organized in RACVIAC since 2002 and are some of its most distinctive training events. So far RACVIAC has conducted 16 Open Skies training activities and trained 238 junior and senior officers involved in the planning or execution of OST Missions.

3 November 2020

Conference on the 20th Anniversary of UNSCR 1325 on WPS organized in RACVIAC

The on-line “Conference on the 20th Anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security – from Expectations to Reality” was held in RACVIAC-Centre for Security Cooperation on 3rd November 2020, thus marking the 20th anniversary of the Resolution.

The purpose of this on-line Conference was to celebrate this ground-breaking step for gender equality in international peace and security processes and to take stock of the achievements and challenges in fully implementing UNSCR 1325 and corresponding resolutions both globally and in the countries of SEE in particular.

TFurthermore, the event offered an opportunity for countries of SEE to share their national views and perspectives on progress made and obstacles met in the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda as well as the ways forward.

Opening the Conference, RACVIAC Director MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo said: “Twenty years ago, the UN Security Council affirmed that peace and security are more sustainable when women are fully included and involved in all aspects of the conflict resolution cycle, from early warning to prevention, crisis management, resolution and post-conflict rehabilitation and adopted a resolution on Women, Peace and Security, widely known as just Resolution 1325”. He continued saying: “The topic of “Women, Peace and Security” is very timely, not only because we are marking the 20th anniversary of the Resolution, but also because the empowerment and substantial inclusion of women are essential to comprehensive security especially during current coronavirus pandemic that is exposing and exacerbating the considerable difficulties women face in achieving their rights and fulfilling their potential. Therefore, we must redouble not only our resolve but also our efforts to ensure gender equality and women’s inclusion in all aspects of our peace and security agenda”, stressed Director Bazo.

Admiral Robert Hranj, Chief of General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces delivered Conference keynote speech. Admiral Hranj said: “50% or more of the world population are women, and every development that tends to be sustainable starts with security. There is no security if everyone is not equally included. The values that we stand for (democracy, human rights, rule of law) cannot be achieved only by one gender. Even with examples of merit based accomplishments on women's parts, there is still a long way to go before everyone can be whatever they want to be, based solely on their abilities, knowledge and skills”, emphasized the Admiral. Later on, he presented how the Croatian Armed Forces are implementing gender perspective and what is done to mainstream gender in military education, training, exercises and daily tasks.

The Conference was divided into two panels: Panel I – International Context - How far have we come in WPS? and Panel II – Regional Context – Is SEE keeping up with progress in WPS?

The first panel was moderated by BG Gordana Garašić, Head of the Planning Directorate of the General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces. The panellists were: Ms Claire Hutchinson, NATO Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security; Ms Charlotte Isaksson, Senior Gender Adviser of the European External Action Service; Ms Cristina M. Finch, Head of Gender and Security Division, Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance; LTC Diana Morais, Chair-elect of the NATO Committee on Gender Perspectives, and MAJ Sanja Pejović, Gender Adviser at SHAPE.

All of the panellists emphasized that 20 years after the Resolution had been adopted there is still a gap between ideology and implementation. Gender perspective is recognized as operational necessity but we will never be able to implement WPS agenda successfully if we do not have responsive and committed leadership and strong and solid partnership. Implementation of gender perspective requires strong political will, transformational and cultural change and increase of capacity and resources. All of the speakers agreed that armed forces have a leading role in integrating gender perspective within security sector institutions. The conclusion was that although very much has been achieved in implementing WPS agenda we are not yet where we would like to be and changes are happening at a really slow pace.

The second Conference panel focused on regional perspectives and progress made. Dr. Ankica Tomić, Adviser on Gender Equality, Participant Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Migration, Asylum, Refugees Regional Initiative (MARRI). The panel was divided into two parts: in the first part regional organizations and Missions/operations presented their work in advancing WPS agenda in the SEE region. The panellist were: MG Reinhard Trischak, EUFOR Commander; MAJ Dr. Elisabeth Schleicher, Chief Gender Advisor to COM KFOR; Dr. Ankica Tomić, Participant Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Adviser on Gender and Equality, MARRI; and Mr Dragan Božanić, Gender and Research Project Officer, UNDP SEESAC.

The second part of the panel focused on national views, achievements and challenges. The speakers were LTC Alda Sula, Ministry of Defence, Albania; BG Mirsad Ahmić, Ministry of Defence, Bosnia and Herzegovina; COL Boženko Đevoić, Ministry of Defence, Croatia; and LTC Antoniela Stankovska-Budimir, Ministry of Defence, North Macedonia.

The Conference gathered almost 50 participants, middle and senior level national officials and subject-matter experts from the security sector institutions, national gender focal points, individuals working on gender training within the security sector and other governmental or non-governmental organizations from all over Europe.

This Conference was a continuation of our series of activities dealing with this significant subject that RACVIAC started in 2012. In 2014 RACVIAC extended its efforts in pushing forward Women, Peace and Security agenda by introducing the NATO certified Gender Training of the Trainers Course, run with the support of the Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations, the NATO's Department Head for Gender Training and the Croatian Armed Forces. Thanks to this partnership, the Course became RACVIAC permanent training activity which directly led to staffing the pool of 140 gender experts in the SEE region and beyond.

28 October 2020

Lecture on Human Resources Management Workshop held on-line

The lecture titled “the Role of Human Resources Management (HRM) during and after COVID-19 Pandemic” was held on-line in RACVIAC on 27 October 2020.

The HRM with its core responsibility to support people and organizations has probably become an even more crucial function with COVID-19 situation. And even though the responsibilities of HRM professionals have not changed completely, priorities have shifted. After the initial shock of the COVID-19 crisis it has become obvious that the usual way of doing business cannot be continued.

That was the reason for RACVIAC to continue with its HRM series of activities but focusing exclusively on effective HRM during ongoing pandemic. The Lecture was organized in cooperation with FLAME Consulting and addressed the role of Human Resources Management (HRM) professionals as the best strategic partner and support to our organizations in the process of adaptation to the new circumstances caused by coronavirus pandemic.

Opening the event RACVIAC Director, MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo said: “We are all witnessing that the disruptive outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent global crisis continue sending shockwaves across the globe. Virtual gatherings, hybrid meetings and remote home office work all have become our “new normal”. Digital technologies and connectivity have become highly critical enablers, facilitating business continuity and connecting people more than ever. It is obvious that institutional design and policies of our organizations show structural deficits while coping with the coronavirus crisis boosted by the lack of willingness or capabilities to adapt to the new circumstances. This implies the requirements of putting in place new systems, policies and procedures. Thus, the role of human resources professionals and their expertise has increased in significance in many organizations as they seek to make effective adaptations. They need to be more agile, learn new skills, develop new expertise and disrupt some old practices”, concluded Director Bazo.

Having in mind that many aspects of the current pandemic are different from any crisis and any change we have gone through before, the Workshop examined some questions of crucial importance for HRM function nowadays: How do we enable learning and agile organizations? How do we help our leaders lead with empathy and resolve? How do we help our employees cope with the changing and uncertain world around them? There are other similar questions that need to be addressed.

Since it is impossible to predict the consequences of the crisis that is not over yet – and we do not know when it will be - we need to prepare for a different world even though we are not really sure what it will look like. So today and going forward, people and organizations need HRM experts who will prioritize employee engagement by focusing on health and wellbeing of employees, communication, supporting people in dealing with uncertainty, accepting and embracing changes – both in the workplace and in everyday life, helping people build resilience both to better handle stress and frustrations and bounce back from the negative events as well as balance the remote work and gradual return to the workplace when and where needed and possible.

Additionally, the event’s participants shared some ideas and raised questions on budget adaptation, the need of remaining attentive to “new reality”, the challenge of getting timely feedback from employees so that the leadership can react quickly and make adequate decisions, and many others.

The participants included middle and senior level HRM professionals working mostly in government institutions.

21 October 2020

Congratulatory Messages for RACVIAC 20th Anniversary

For the 20th Anniversary of RACVIAC-centre for Security Cooperation we have received many congratulatory messages from our Members and partner organizations.

"As a co-founder and host country, the Republic of Croatia has been involved in its work since the very beginning. Over the last two decades RACVIAC, originally founded to deal with Arms Control issues, has been able to transform itself into a Centre for Security Cooperation providing its members with a unique possibility for effective interaction, education and exchange of knowledge and experience on security matters”, said Mr Mario Banožić, Minster of Defence of the Republic of Croatia in his congratulatory message.

The Minister's letter is available here

Mr Predrag Bošković, Minister of Defence of Montenegro, congratulated RACVIAC on the 20th Anniversary saying: "This anniversary is a confirmation of success RACVIAC has achieved as a unique regional organization, creating a platform for countries to build up capacities to face joint threats and challenges and overcome them by united efforts and solidarity."

The Minister's video message is available here

"Over the past two decades, RACVIAC has established itself as a unique regional platform for discussion of current security issues among professionals from across the security sector, including academia and civil society. The Marshall Center extends its congratulations on the occasion of RACVIAC’s twentieth anniversary and looks forward to further partnership for many years to come." - Dr. Andrew A. Michta, Dean, College of International and Security Studies, George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies.

"Undoubtedly, the SEE region would not be the same without RACVIAC and its commitment to supporting confidence building, democratization processes and enhancing security dialogue and cooperation." - David Musgrave, DTRA’s Deputy Director.

The video message is available here

"When RACVIAC was founded, the situation in the region was pretty much different. There was a lot of work on the ground trying to overcome post-war situation. Nowadays, we are facing very different challenges, maybe even more challenging, especially in this region of the world, the South East Europe and the Western Balkans." - Holger Heibach, Head of KAS Office Croatia and Slovenia.

The video message is available here

"Centre for Security Cooperation is a trustworthy member of European Security and Defence College’s network. Throughout the years, it has successfully conducted its mission to provide quality courses. By building bridges between different countries and regions, it fulfills the goal to enhance the educational environment & standards in security-related issues. Happy 20th Anniversary!" -On the behalf of ESDC Secretariat, Dr. Georgică Panfil – Training Manager

"The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina is proud of its longstanding partnership with the RACVIAC – Center for Security Co-operation. Our partnership has included numerous and diverse efforts to address contemporary security and defense challenges. Over the past 20 years, the Centre has become an indispensable forum for regional co-operation, dialogue and knowledge exchange. It is now an essential actor for building confidence and increasing stability in South East Europe." - OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina

"RAI and RACVIAC are two regional organizations that share the same objectives and values and facilitate the integration process through stepping up the pace of reforms. Since 2014, RAI and RACVIAC have built a strong partnership and cooperation through organizing conferences and annual regional workshops on specific anti-corruption and integrity topics with multi-disciplinary approach, with the focus on leadership commitment, as a prerequisite for promoting public confidence and trust in the defence sector. " - Mr Vladan Joksimovic, Head of Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI)

"We highly value the consistent efforts of RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation as an important international security organization in South Eastern Europe in further fostering the dialogue and strengthening and enhancing the regional cooperation. The SEDM-CC/PMSC Secretariat is honored to have been cooperating with RACVIAC for 20 years and firmly believes that our cooperation will continue to increase toward our common security goals." - Sindi Kovaçi, SEDM-CC/PMSC Secretariat, Albanian Chairmanship

"The RACVIAC idea of the common exchange of knowledge and bringing people together for a peaceful future is a unique initiative in Europe. Supporting the RACVIAC-Centre for Security Cooperation in the framework of transnational water management and flood protection is a not only a duty for us, it is an honor to be part of this network. We congratulate the RACVIAC partnership and all its members for the achieved work over 20 years of cooperative liaison – and looking forward to a further successful cooperation." - Martin Angelmaier, Head of Department of Water Management. Office of the Lower Austrian Federal Government

"For many years the Austrian National Defence Academy has had the honour and privilege of cooperating with RACVIAC. We would like to wish you all the best for the coming years and look forward to our continued cooperation." - Austrian National Defence Academy, Vienna

20 October 2020

44th MAG Meeting held on-line

The 44th Meeting of the Multinational Advisory Group (MAG), RACVIAC steering body, which gathered representatives of Members, Associate Members, Observers, participants and partners, took place on-line on 20 October 2020.

The Meeting was organized under the chairmanship of Montenegro and was chaired by Major General Rajko Pešić, Defence Policy and Planning Director, Ministry of Defence of Montenegro.

The Meeting started with a brief presentation on the Director’s Interim Report, given by the Director of RACVIAC, MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo, who highlighted: “This is a completely unusual year for all of us. The pandemic outbreak has made our life more complicated and finding the right solution to this situation is still impossible. This new reality poses not only significant risk to public health but also to our national security. The economic and financial drop, the political instability, the crisis in conflict areas and relationships within the international arena are some of the factors that may impact national, regional and international security environment.” Emphasizing the most significant achievements of RACVIAC work in the first eight months of 2020 Director Bazo said: “The activities were successfully accomplished, greatly owing to the excellent cooperation we have had with our partners and I take the opportunity to express our appreciation to all of them for their great contribution that has been a real benefit to the performance of our Centre.” He also added: “In order to remain a unique regional platform for security cooperation in SEE, it is obvious that RACVIAC has to adapt its working concept and methods to the new reality.”

As RACVIAC was marking its 20th Anniversary on 20 October 2020, MG (ret.) Bazo took the opportunity to express his deepest appreciation for the ongoing support and valuable engagement of all RACVIAC Members, Associate Members, Observers, participants and partners to the success of the Centre over the past 20 years. He said that on that occasion a Ceremony was planned to be held on 23rd October 2020, under the auspices of the President of the Republic of Croatia H.E. Zoran Milanović, but due to the situation and restrictions it is postponed for better, safer time.

Pursuant to the Meeting Agenda RACVIAC Programme and Activity Managers and C-WMD Network Leader gave presentations with regard to the realization of the Programme in 2020 and plans for 2021.

Afterwards, RACVIAC Operations Manager informed the MAG representatives about the current personnel situation in the Centre and renewed the call to send qualified personnel, especially those Members that are not represented in RACVIAC.

In addition, Chief of Admin and Finance Cell briefed MAG participants on the RACVIAC Budget for 2020 and financial projections for the future.

The last briefing was related to the new RACVIAC Strategy 2021-2026 and provided detailed information about the final draft.

At the end of the Meeting MAG approved Mr Dragan Nikolić, State Secretary in the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of North Macedonia, as the new MAG Chairperson. Taking into account that consensus of Members was reached for all activities proposed for 2021, MAG approved the Programme 2021 and adopted the Strategy 2021-2026.

Last but not least, a Monograph of the history and the achievements of RACVIAC over the past 20 years and short video were presented.

The Monograph is available here

The video is available here

25 September 2020

C-WMD Phase Two – Strategic Context On-line Workshop

“The C-WMD Phase Two - Strategic Context” on-line workshop was conducted on 21 -24 September 2020.

Like 13 previously organized events, this one was also jointly organized with the support of U.S European Command (USEUCOM), U.S. Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), the International Counterproliferation Program (ICP), the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) and the Republic of Croatia.

This Workshop was focused more specifically on the development of four projects created under Phase Two of C-WMD Network aiming to further enhance regional cooperation in countering proliferation of WMD.

The main objectives of this activity were:  To discuss development of four C-WMD Phase Two Projects: Development of a Regional C-WMD Risk Atlas; The Creation of a Common Approach to Bio-Security and the Malicious Use of Life Sciences; Establish a Regional Dual-Use and Emerging Technologies Program and Annual Trends Assessment Conference;  To exercise regional cooperation through a RACVIAC portal;  To review the national strategy development;  To peer review progress in the development of C-WMD national strategies;  To support the execution of national table top exercises.

Opening the Workshop, MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo, RACVIAC Director, underlined: “During our thirteen workshops and conferences in the last five years, we have gathered more than 150 experts involved in the C-WMD field, thus fostering dialogue and trust in the Region. Currently, we are in the second phase of the project, which in a sense is a long-term goal established already at the start of the project, creating realistic platforms for enhanced regional cooperation in the C-WMD arena. By doing this, we will create a self-manageable multinational regional forum that will address contemporary and emerging WMD challenges“, concluded Director Bazo.

This activity brought together more than 50 participants, representatives from each participating nation, mostly members of their national drafting/working groups and competent authority planners and/or implementers engaged in the implementation of the C-WMD national strategy.

The first part of the Workshop was designed as an expert forum and it was conducted through open discussions, case studies and presentations by experts, group exercises and a tabletop exercise.

On 24 September 2020, as a part of the Workshop, Senior Leadership Day, that gathered senior officials from ministries of foreign affairs and defence of participating nations, at the level of head of directorate, head of department and similar, was organized in order to present to them the overview of Phase Two Regional Cooperation Proposals and future plan of work and to seek their support for project continuation.

Addressing the national senior officials, Director Bazo said that he was happy and proud that despite the difficult working situation we had managed to organize the workshop thus virtually proving the importance of working together and working even harder in the times to come. Speaking about the C-WMD Network Phase Two, he continued by saying: “So far, we have recognized four regional projects: development of a Regional C-WMD Risk Atlas led by North Macedonia; creation of a Common Approach to Bio-Security and the Malicious Use of Life Sciences led by Romania; creating a Regional Dual-Use and Emerging Technologies Hub led by Croatia, Montenegro and Kosovo*; and organizing Annual Trends Assessment Conference project led by Bosnia and Herzegovina.” He concluded by emphasizing once more the importance of regional cooperation especially in these challenging times.

Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Zagreb Ms Victoria Taylor praised everyone for shared commitments and emphasized that C-WMD Network sends strong regional message of cooperation. She also said that nowadays, with COVID-19, we could see that the threats were cross-border. Ms Taylor underlined that key relationships built within Network were good preconditions to move forward and advance in C-WMD issues. Work done so far had enhanced regional security, especially in the area of C-WMD, she concluded.

Next to speak was Mr David Musgrave, Director of the On-Site Inspection and Building Capacity Directorate for DTRA, who, via video message said: “We commend RACVIAC on commencing phase two of this effort with the development of an online portal to share best practices, challenges, risk assessments and project information among participating nations. It is heartening to the global community to see these partners come together in collaborative projects. Beginning this year, we will collaborate to offer counterproliferation finance and international dual use goods training to increase partner nations’ coordination across law enforcement, academia, government and industry.” Mr Musgrave added: “For 20 years, RACVIAC, in partnership with US European Command and DTRA has strived to increase the security of the region. This commitment towards enhancing the security dialogue has made the region far safer.”

Speaking on behalf of the Republic of Croatia, who had a key role in establishing C-WMD Network, acting Defence Policy Director, Ms Dunja Bujan, stressed: “The importance of this second phase of the C-WMD Network project is manifold. First of all, we are ready to translate the remarkable accomplishments from the first phase of the project into 4 areas of cooperation as presented during this week. Secondly, by identifying the said areas of cooperation, various mechanisms will be developed that will help deepen the level of cooperation among our countries. Thirdly, we are gradually taking full responsibility over the initiatives. Finally, dear colleagues, we should take great pride in participating in such a challenging new model of multilateral cooperation.” Ms. Bujan concluded by saying: “The Ministry of Defence of Croatia has provided support from the very beginning of the C-WMD Network and will continue to do so as the Network enters its second phase, particularly through the “Dual Use and Emerging Technologies” area of cooperation that we will work on along with Montenegro and Kosovo*.”

At the end all other national senior representatives also gave their full support for the further development of the C-WMD Phase Two, especially through four above mentioned regional projects, thus proving participating nations’ commitment to enhancing cooperation in countering proliferation of WMD.

* 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 July 2020

On-line Symposium on Current Issues in Arms Control and Nuclear Non-proliferation

The On-line Arms Control Symposium on “Current Issues in Arms Control and Nuclear Non-proliferation” is organized by RACVIAC-Centre for Security Cooperation on 09 July 2020.

The purpose of this event is to present the latest developments in arms control as well as in non-proliferation, with the aim of revealing new perspectives on confidence-building measures in Europe. The objectives of the 2020 Symposium are to examine the recent and future challenges in the arms control domain in general as well as from a regional point of view; the role of arms control and non-proliferation in resolving the remaining security issues in Europe; and recent trends and developments in the area of nuclear non-proliferation.

"Although the focus has been on very different issues in the world recently, non-proliferation and arms control do remain very significant issues to which we should redirect our attention to prevent the further deterioration of global security as there may be actors who can use the present stalemate to their own benefit", said RACVIAC Director MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo in his opening address. He has also taken the opportunity to express his appreciation to H.E. Ambassador Marjolijn van Deelen, Head of the Non-proliferation, Disarmament and Nuclear Affairs Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and the Netherlands Ambassador for the Non-Proliferation Treaty, as well as all the other speakers, arms control experts, academics, researchers and national representatives who took part in this event.

Speaking about “Current Issues of Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament on a Global Scale” and presenting various approaches and systems aimed to strengthen and consolidate global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament efforts H.E. Ambassador Marjolijn van Deelen said that confidence and dialogue is the glue that keeps all nuclear non-proliferation initiatives together. Her Excellency also underlined that in light of the situation related to the coronavirus pandemic all the initiatives and efforts are slowed down, including the 2020 Review Conference, which has been postponed.

This is the RACVIAC 10th Symposium in a series of such kind of events aimed to annually review the recent developments in the ever-changing political and security arena and consider future developments and challenges in the Arms Control domain, on a regional and global scale.

This year it gathered more than 30 national representatives as well as experts and scholars with a wide area of expertise, coming from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, Croatia, Italy, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Turkey, Kosovo*, as well as the OSCE, the Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), Corvinus University, Budapest, National University of Public Service (NUPS), Budapest, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the OSCE, and BENELUX Arms Control Agency (BACA).

* 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.

17 June 2020

RACVIAC organizes COVID-19 Pandemic - Crisis Management On-line Seminar

RACVIAC-Centre for Security Cooperation organizes the COVID-19 Pandemic - Crisis Management On-line Seminar on 17 June 2020.

The purpose of the Seminar is to present and analyse national crisis management concepts, inter-agency cooperation, challenges, best practices and lessons learned in dealing with the coronavirus crisis, by providing the platform for interaction among national crisis/emergency management and public health and civil protection experts thus contributing to the improvements of crisis management capabilities of RACVIAC Members and partners.

The event started with the opening remarks given by RACVIAC Director MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo who said: "This Seminar is dedicated to examining the national crisis management concepts and actual performance in the COVID-19 pandemic. I strongly believe it will help us understand challenges better and reconsider reactions of our crisis response systems, and thus contribute to the improvements of RACVIAC Members’ crisis management capabilities.” He continued by saying: “Since RACVIAC is the Centre for regional security cooperation, we are happy to serve our Members and fulfil our mission in the circumstances where live cross-border communication is not possible by providing this virtual platform for interaction among national crisis management, public health and civil protection experts." Director Bazo also took the opportunity to express his appreciation to all lecturers – academic representatives and subject matter experts who will present and analyse their national experiences in dealing with coronavirus crisis and to Dr Matthew Rhodes from the George C. Marshall Centre for his Introductory remarks.

This Seminar serves as a platform at which national crisis management, public health and civil protection academic and professional experts involved in COVID-19 pandemic crisis response or analysis: Mirza Smajić, PhD, Faculty of Political Science in Sarajevo, Vedran Kranjčević, Head of Cabinet, Croatian Ministry of Health, Robert Mikac, PhD, Faculty of Political Science of Zagreb University, Roberto Setola, PhD, Campus Bio-Medico, University of Rome, Olivera Injac, PhD, University of Donja Gorica, Podgorica, Marina Mitrevska, PhD and Lidija Georgieva, PhD, Faculty of Philosophy, Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, and Želimir Kešetović, PhD, Faculty of Security Studies, University of Belgrade, will provide presentations on COVID-19 Pandemic Crisis Management analysing and presenting best practices, challenges, and lessons learned through out all three phases of crisis management cycle: prevention, preparedness, and response phase.

The Seminar has gathered more than 30 participants, representatives and experts from ministries of defence, health, interior, demography and other, from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Turkey, as well as representatives of OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Initiative in SEE, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Office in Zagreb, and ISCTE-IUL Student Union from Portugal.

The uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus has affected all countries and societies of the world harder than many other challenges we have faced so far. States have proven to be the undisputed actors and creators of policies and conditions that most directly affect the functioning of life, society and the economy during this crisis. Depending on their attitudes and ability to cope with the crisis, they determined the current action within their own borders and the international environment as well as the future of relations between many actors in their society. It is the ability of states to organize an effective crisis management system, with all its components, phases of the crisis management cycle, application of knowledge of effective crisis communication, assessment and daily strategic decision-making that produces the preconditions for analysing how successful individual countries have been in dealing with this crisis. This subject is of central interest to our on-line Seminar.

05 June 2020

RACVIAC donates personal protective equipment to local dispensaries

In view of the long-standing good relations and wishing to continue RACVIAC’s support to local and wider community, especially during the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic and exposure of medical personnel to the infection by COVID-19 virus, Director of RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation Major General (ret.) Jeronim Bazo made a donation on behalf of RACVIAC of personal protective equipment to the dispensaries located in the city of Sveta Nedelja.

Presenting the donation, General Bazo said it was a symbolic act of Centre’s closeness to local community as well as a modest contribution to the fight against corona virus in the RACVIAC’s home country, the Republic of Croatia. He continued by saying that with this protective equipment the Centre would like to make the daily life of the medical personnel safer in this demanding circumstances and support them in their fight against the pandemic. He emphasized that being close to the local community RACVIAC is once more proving its commitment to its main mission of fostering dialogue and cooperation in the wider SEE region. General Bazo also underlined that in time of crisis cooperation, dialogue and solidarity is even more important. He added that, since its establishment in 2000, RACVIAC has been continuously committed to the local community and to supporting those in need.

The donation was received by the Head of Zagreb County Health Center Većeslav Bergman, M.D. who said: “The fight against coronavirus is not finished yet, as the second wave is expected in autumn. This donation is an evidence that there are people who think of us and who are ready to support us. We appreciate it very much”, he concluded.

Deputy Mayor of the City of Sveta Nedelja, Ms Marija Hršak, also attended handover of the donation and on behalf of the Mayor expressed her appreciation of the continuous support RACVIAC is providing to local community.

05 June 2020

Four ambassadors paid an informal visit to RACVIAC

The four Ambassadors, H.E. Riza Poda, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Albania, H.E. Peter Susko, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Slovak Republic, H.E. Andrew Stuart Dalgeish, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and H.E. Robert Kohorst, the Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Croatia, paid an informal visit to RACVIAC yesterday.

The guests were welcomed by RACVIAC Director MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo and Deputy Director MG Slaven Zdilar.

During the informal discussion several questions related to RACVIAC Programme of activities and some ongoing and future projects were raised.

MG (ret.) Bazo also took the opportunity to express his appreciation for the support that these countries have provided to the Centre so far but also for their readiness to intensify mutual cooperation in the future.

It is worthy to mention that these four countries do not have the same membership status in RACVIAC: the Republic of Albania is a Member, United Kingdom is an Associate Member while Slovak Republic and the United States of America are Observer countries.

11 March 2020

Visit to Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina

On 11 March 2020 Director of RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation, MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo, paid a courtesy visit to the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

During the meeting with Minister Fahrudin Radončić Director Bazo acquainted him with RACVIAC activities planned for 2020 and availed himself of the opportunity to thank Bosnia and Herzegovina for its ongoing and invaluable support.

In continuation the most pressing security challenges for Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the South East European region as a whole, such as illegal migration, rehabilitation and reintegration of foreign terrorist fighters, and coronavirus, were discussed. Both agreed that in the future there is a lot of space for intensive cooperation in each security area.

Minister Radončić expressed the readiness of the Ministry of Security to continue cooperating with RACVIAC as well as to organize joint activities in the forthcoming period.

At the end of the Meeting RACVIAC Director underlined the full dedication of the Centre to continue supporting Euro-Atlantic integration efforts and to foster security cooperation and dialogue between its Members thus contributing to overall stability and security in the SEE region.

04 March 2020

Croatian War College students visit RACVIAC

The 22nd generation of students of the War College "Ban Josip Jelačić" of the Croatian Armed Forces, led by Colonel Mijo Kožić, the Head, visited RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation on 04 March 2020.

The visit was a part of their Studies Program and its purpose was to familiarize students with RACVIAC as the only international organization located in the Republic of Croatia.

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

After a presentation that covers the history, mission, and Programme of the Centre Director Bazo provided further explanations relating to the status and obligations of RACVIAC Members, secondment of personnel as well as RACVIAC role in fostering security dialogue and cooperation in the SEE region. Talking about the increasing security challenges and considering the fact that security interests and geostrategic goals of the regional countries might differ sometimes Director Bazo said that the best approach is to maintain an ongoing dialogue and cooperation.

In the discussion that followed questions about the future of RACVIAC, its new Strategy, and some new Programme areas were raised.

The 22nd generation of students of the "Ban Josip Jelačić" War College has 18 participants: 10 officers from the Croatian Armed Forces, one senior level official from the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, one police advisor from the Ministry of Interior, one member of the Croatian Fire-fighting Association, two officers from the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, one from Montenegro, one from North Macedonia, and one from Slovenia.

The "Ban Josip Jelačić" War Colege was established in 1998 as the highest-level military school in the Republic of Croatia that is offering education for senior officers and civil servants of the Republic of Croatia and partner countries.

25 February 2020

SEEBRIG Commander visits RACVIAC

On 25 February 2020 the Commander of the South-Eastern Europe Brigade (SEEBRIG), the Multinational Peace Force South-Eastern Europe (MPFSEE), BG Tudorica Petrache, accompanied by two staff members, 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 provided some additional explanations related to the development of Programme of activities emphasizing that over the years it has been changing and evolving in order to reflect the Members’ needs and requests. MG Bazo underlined 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.

Afterwards BG Petarche took the opportunity to present the history, mission, structure, troop contributing countries, force strength and core activities of the SEEBRIG. During the discussion that followed questions related to the activities of common interest as well as possibilities for more intensive cooperation in the future were raised.

The South-Eastern Europe Brigade (SEEBRIG) is currently a brigade-size formation established by seven participating nations in order to contribute to the regional security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area, and to foster cooperation among the South-Eastern European countries. The Initiative is consistent with the purposes and the principles of the United Nations Charter and is available for possible employment in UN, OSCE, NATO or EU-led conflict prevention and other peace support operations. For the last twenty years the Brigade has passed an intensive way of organizational development and enhancement of its operational readiness. The military personnel of the currently six participating countries are working harmoniously together under the motto "One team – one mission".

25 February 2020

Chemical Weapons Convention Workshop starts

A two-day Chemical Weapons Convention Workshop, organized in partnership with the OPCW, started in RACVIAC on 25 February 2020.

The 2020 Workshop is a continuation of fruitful cooperation between RACVIAC and the OPCW in promoting the implementation of the CWC in South-Eastern Europe, which directly enhances regional stability, transparency and trust. Activities focusing on the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) have been organized in RACVIAC annually since 2004.

The purpose of this Workshop is to discuss relevant issues related to the CWC and provide a broad overview of the Convention and its implementation procedures with a specific focus on chemical safety and security. 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.

This year the main focus will be put on the issue of “Chemical Security Management through Scenario Based Strategies - an Advanced Approach”, thus building on the last year’s conclusions to have a more advanced approach to the topic.

Opening the Workshop RACVIAC Director MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo said: “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. In order to support these players, i.e. all of you, the Workshop will provide an updated overview of the CWC implementation issues, it will explore by means of scenarios the tools for managing chemical safety and security and will, among other issues, provide a detailed overview of how to develop an effective action plan to cope with chemical threats. Furthermore, this year, we will continue with the more practical approach which proved to be very successful last year, a Table top Exercise that will be conducted within the framework of the Workshop”, concluded Director Bazo. He also took the opportunity to extend his gratitude to the representatives of OPCW, Dr Rohan Perera (Senior Programme Officer) and Mr Vaclovas Semaskevicius (Programme Officer), for their invaluable contribution and cooperation.

Speaking on behalf of the OPCW Dr Rohan Perera said: “The work of the OPCW, a Nobel Peace Prize winning organisation, has brought the international community closer to achieving a world free from an entire category of weapons of mass destruction.” He continued by saying: ”The Convention in now close to obtaining universal adherence, with a membership that currently stands at 193 countries making it one the most successful disarmament and non-proliferation treaties.” Speaking about safety and security management Dr Perera underlined that the key approach is to reduce and eliminate the risks from the use of the toxic chemicals through the supply chain.

The Workshop has gathered 16 participants, senior/junior military or civilian recommendation-makers dealing with CWC issues and/or responsible for chemical safety and security issues, from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey and Kosovo* who will be also given an opportunity to deliver a short presentation on their agency’s core tasks considering the focus of the Workshop: safety and security - good practices.

* 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.

12 February 2020

Canadian Ambassador visits RACVIAC

H.E. Mr Alan Bowman, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Canada to the Republic of Croatia, visited RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation on 12 February 2020.

After a presentation on RACVIAC history, mission and accomplishments of the Centre Director MG (Ret.) Jeronim Bazo provided further explanations related to RACVIAC members, partnerships, and execution of Programme of activities. Director Bazo emphasized that apart from enhancing dialogue and cooperation between SEE countries the Centre serves as a platform for networking thus building bridges and promoting mutual trust and supporting aspiring countries on their path towards European and Euro-Atlantic integrations.

MG (ret.) Bazo also took the opportunity to express hope to intensify cooperation with Canada as a RACVIAC observer country in the future, possibly in the fields of good governance, rule of law and human rights.

10 February 2020

Austrian Ambassador visits RACVIAC

On Monday, 10 February 2020, the Ambassador of the Republic of Austria to the Republic of Croatia, H.E. Mr Josef Markus Wuketich, paid a courtesy visit to RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation.

He was accompanied by COL Reinhard Stradner, the Defence Attaché.

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, and annual Programme of the Centre MG (ret.) Bazo briefly summarized the greatest achievements and major challenges of the Centre emphasizing that it will continue to foster dialogue, mutual trust and build bridges as crucial prerequisites for stability and security of the SEE region. He also took the opportunity to express his appreciation on behalf of the Organization for the constant and invaluable contribution and support that Austria, as an Associate member, has been providing to RACVIAC since its inception in terms of finances, expertise and overall support.

In continuation some aspects related to the membership, RACVIAC main Programme areas, and some future plans were discussed.

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

03 February 2020

Phase Two of C-WMD Network project kicks off in RACVIAC

The three-day Meeting, “C-WMD National Strategies - Nuclear Material and Security”, started today in RACVIAC.

This is the first meeting of Phase Two of the C-WMD Network project, 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 the Republic of Croatia.

Opening the Meeting RACVIAC Director, MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo, said: “Since its beginnings in 2015 the C-WMD Network aims to assist, together with our partners, in the development of C-WMD National Strategies as well as building a strong community and network of experts in this domain. Five years later the great majority of participating nations in this project have developed or adopted C-WMD National Strategies and Action Plans. The process of testing and validating at the national level is well on its way and we are hoping that the whole cycle will be completed in the upcoming year.” He continued by underlining: “The risk of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction has increased due to the evolving nature of terrorism and is further complicated by the rapid advances in science, technology and international commerce. That’s why it is of great importance to look for the way ahead and find practical ways to enhance further regional cooperation in the field of counter proliferation.”

Maj Stephen M. Siegner from USEUCOM and LtC Donald Hausser from DTRA-ICP shortly welcomed the Meeting participants on behalf of the co-organizers.

During the next three days the Meeting will focus on further facilitating and reviewing the progress in the development of national C-WMD strategies and action plans, examining recent trends and emerging technologies in WMD proliferation, and discussing topics connected to Nuclear Material and Security. Additionally, the participants will exercise using the RACVIAC Portal established as a mechanism that will further enhance regional cooperation and information sharing in the area of C-WMD.

The Meeting has gathered 26 national representatives, members from drafting/working groups of the participating states, competent authority planners and implementers engaged in the implementation of the C-WMD national strategy, and 14 experts from USEUCOM, DTRA, US Department of Energy, European Space Agency and the US Embassy in Zagreb.

The event is designed as an expert forum and it will be conducted through open discussions, case studies, presentations from experts, group exercises and a tabletop exercise.

28 January 2020

Meeting of the WG on the new RACVIAC Strategy held in RACVIAC

On 28 January 2020 the second Meeting of the Working Group on the new RACVIAC Strategy and its Action Plan 2021-2026 was held on RACVIAC premises.

The purpose of the Meeting was to discuss and coordinate details related to the inputs received from RACVIAC Members as well as to propose new topics relevant to national and regional needs regarding the proposed draft of the new Strategy and Action Plan that outline RACVIAC way ahead and main fields of interest in the future.

Opening the Meeting RACVIAC Director, MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo, welcomed the representatives and subject matter experts from Members and Associate Members saying that the Centre greatly appreciates their outstanding support and cooperation that contribute to Centre’s future performance and overall stability and security of the region.

The Meeting continued with an introductory presentation by the Planning and Liaison Officer Col Josef Pulko who provided brief information on the inputs and proposals received so far.

In accordance with the Meeting Agenda participants were divided into syndicates related to a specific area of interest, and discussed several details that resulted in more precise and concrete topics and activities that support the achievement of each defined objective.

The Meeting gathered representatives and subject matter experts from Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Switzerland, and Turkey, who, with their national inputs and expertise, invaluably contributed to better shaping the Centre’s way forward.

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