The visit to Serbia was an opportunity for the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, General Bartels to develop further the NATO-Serbia military relations, commend the progress made in the Partnership for Peace Programme (PfP) and to highlight the mutual benefits of the new Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) agreed between NATO and Serbia in January 2015. During his two-day visit (16 – 17 April 2015), General Bartels met with General Diković, Chief of the General Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces, Ambassador Branimir Filipović Assistant of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Mr Zoran Đorđević, State Secretary.
NATO and Serbia have steadily built up cooperation and dialogue, since the country joined the Partnership for Peace programme (PfP) and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in 2006 and agreed, earlier this year, to further enhance the dialogue and cooperation with the Individual Partnership Programme (IPAP) whilst respecting Serbia’s policy of military neutrality. As with Serbia, NATO works closely with several other countries on such a basis.
Serbia and NATO have thereby opened the possibility to deepen the political dialogue on issues of common interest. These include support for democratic, institutional and defence reforms and cooperation between the militaries. General Bartels used the opportunity to highlight the excellent and extensive cooperation and coordination that exists between the Serbian military and the NATO forces in Kosovo, KFOR. “I strongly believe in the potential of NATO-Serbia relations. Serbia is a member of the European family like any other; we want to work as closely with you as we do with our other European partners” General Bartels stated during his press conference with General Diković.
Part of the purpose of the visit was to discuss the new opportunities on the Military side the newly agreed Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) between NATO and Serbia has provided, “this important step will allow us to further strengthen dialogue, understanding and cooperation between us. This is an opportunity to work together and to promote stability and security in the region and beyond. Also improved interoperability will benefit other areas in the NATO-Serbia cooperation such as Civil Emergency/Crisis Management, NATO Building Integrity Programme, Medical Support to Peace Operations, and the Science and Peace for Security Programme” General Bartels said.
The IPAP is a jointly agreed framework between a partner nation, in this case Serbia, and NATO, and is mutually beneficial. The main objective of the IPAP is for the partner nation to lay out its goals and the areas where NATO can provide assistance to achieve those goals. “The IPAP will help to organise bilateral cooperation, ensuring that NATO and individual Allies can provide support to Serbia in achieving its goals”, explained General Bartels. This new step will lead to a significant increase in dialogue between NATO and Serbia at political and expert levels.
This plan commits NATO and Serbia to working together to raise public awareness and understanding of security issues and of NATO-Serbia cooperation. And it reflects the wide range of defence and military areas in which NATO and Serbia intend to continue and to strengthen their cooperation.
Leopold James De Rothschild