13.2.2015. Roundtable: “Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) between Serbia and NATO: What, why, who and how” held
The Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies from Belgrade (CEAS) organized a roundtable with the following subject: “Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) between Serbia and NATO: What, why, who and how”. The roundtable took place in Aeroklub, on February 13, 2015, within the project “Serbian security sector reform and integration“ supported by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
The agreed version of the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) between Serbia and NATO was officially adopted on January 15, 2015, at the NATO Council. The IPAP is the highest form of cooperation of a state with the NATO, without the state adopting the IPAP being a NATO member state and it clearly defines the goals of cooperation and priorities, to ensure that different mechanisms and forms of cooperation being established between the partner country and the NATO are directly in compliance with the set priorities. Such partnership tool enables that the advices provided by the NATO are focused specifically on the respective country and its internal reforms in the area of security and defense, as well as, when necessary, significant political and institutional reforms. The main objective of the roundtable was to provide the local general community and experts the permanent framework for analyzing to what extent the IPAP could be used for this purpose.
The CEAS believes that general public in Serbia does not have enough information on what the IPAP is, what its main elements are and the possibilities it opens, and who the main actors of its implementation are.
Over 50 representatives of diplomatic missions, Ministry of defense, political parties, local and foreign non-governmental organizations, the media and, for the first time, business sector, accepted the invitation to the roundtable.
Besides Jelena Milić, Director of the CEAS, the panelists were: Marijana Toma, Deputy Director of the Humanitarian Law Center, Grant Morrow from the political department of the US Embassy in Belgrade, Aleksandar Senić, Vice-President of the NSRS Committee on European Integration and deputy of the Social-Democratic Party, and Pol Prososki, Director of the International Republican Institute.
In her opening speech, Jelena Milić presented the most important points of the IPAP, its significance for Serbia on its road to the European integrations, and briefly analyzed the current status of the reform of the security system and evaluated it from the perspective of IPAP implementation.
Among others, she said that the citizens of Serbia are not sufficiently informed about what IPAP offers, and that the cooperation between Serbia and the NATO can significantly improve its journey toward the EU.
Marijana Toma emphasized the necessity of implementation of the mechanism of transitional justice against the wars of the 1990’s, and in this context said that the Law on Civilian casualties of War is profoundly discriminatory and needs to be reworked.
She said that, from March 24 to June 9, 1999, 758 people were killed from the consequences of the actions of the NATO aviation, of which 267 in Central Serbia, ten in Montenegro, and others in Kosovo and Metohija.
In her words, around 450 of them were civilians, and around 300 members of the Yugoslav Army, Serbian police force and the Kosovo Liberation Army.
Speaking about the total number of casualties in Kosovo, she said that from the beginning of 1998 until the end of 2000, around 13,500 people were killed in the conflicts in this province, of which around 10,800 Albanians, 2,200 Serbs and around 500 Roma and other non-Albanians.
Representative of the FHP said that this data was obtained through a comprehensive research conducted by the Humanitarian Law Center on the basis of more than 31,000 documents, testimonies of witnesses and family members, photographs and other sources.
By looking at official estimates published by the government of the SRY after the war, that around 1,000 members of the army and police were killed in the NATO bombing, and between 2,500 and 3,500 civilians, Jelena Milić said that this data is breaking the stereotypes that exist in Serbian society and that it is not good to increase this number, as if these figures are not enough. She also added that the fact that misinformation on the number of casualties of the NATO bombing intensified with the onset of Russian propaganda in Serbia is not insignificant.
Grant Morrow said that Serbia plays the key role in stability of the Balkans and that it is very important for it to continue partnership with the NATO, which will certainly help it in the realization of the set goals.
He reminded that Serbia has been a member of the program "Partnership for Peace" since 2006, and that since its accession it has closely cooperated with the NATO. "In 2014, Serbia had more than 100 different drills with the NATO", Morrow said, and added that there are many ways in which the NATO can help Serbia achieve its set goals.
He also said that, in view of achieving goals, as political dialogue on all levels is necessary, and that it is very important that the citizens of Serbia are familiar with the fact that the NATO recognizes the government of Serbia as a partner.
Aleksandar Senić said that approaching the EU entails security obligations and that for this reason it is important that the government of Serbia continues to support the participation of Serbian armed forces in peacekeeping missions. He also presented the position that it is necessary to stop demagogical manipulations with security sector in Serbia, since such a condition is obviously harmful to it, and emphasized that the worst consequences of this conditions are reflected exactly in the fact that it has been lasting for decades – and Jelena Milić agreed to this in her speech.
In his words, the SDS welcomes the adoption of the IPAP and maintains that there is a need for cooperation with the NATO.
Pol Prososki presented a research conducted by his Institute by 2011, about the position of the citizens toward NATO, which is dominated by the result that the citizens ate not sufficiently informed either about the NATO as an organization, or its significance for the reform of security sector, which results in their being indecisive. For example, when these citizens were asked whether they would support the joining the NATO if it improved their financial situation, most of them answered affirmatively. He saw such a situation as a political and communication challenge that Serbia is facing now that the IPAP has been adopted, and he said that public debates and transparent presentation of the significance of the IPAP and NATO to the general public – are the key to successful implementation of both this document, and the now mandatory cooperation between Serbia and the NATO.
After presentations of the panelists, representatives of diplomatic missions, community of experts, political parties and non-governmental sector joined the debate. Colonel Thomas Klementsson, Military Attaché of Sweden in Belgrade, welcomed the organizing of such a debate and said that the essence of IPAP implementation is adequate communication with the citizens – regardless of which road Serbia would choose with respect to the membership in the NATO.
Aleksandar Jovićić, Vice-President of the IO and deputy of the SNS in the Parliament, talking about the IPAP adoption, in the name of his party expressed the view that it is important to reconcile the positions and actions with the time that is to come and with real needs of the country, thus welcoming the adoption of the IPAP and announcing fill cooperation of the ruling party in the implementation of this agreement.
Nataša Petrović, representative of Balkan Trust for Democracy, said that political message of the government on the IPAP is missing and that this document is it’s a test of its commitment to European integrations.
Representative of Belgrade Center for Security Policy (BCBP) from Belgrade emphasized that citizens’ readiness for cooperation is an asset that is to be used by presenting to them adequately all the novelties brought about by IPAP implementation, namely implementation of NATO standards.
In their closing speeches, all panelists agreed that misinformation on the number of casualties during the NATO bombing must be reduced, that it hinders the efforts of Serbia in both its true reforms and its integration with the EU; as well as that a wide public debate is necessary as well as inclusion and informing of the public on the IPAP and potentials of cooperation with the NATO.
The roundtable had very good media coverage. CEAS would like to thank all panelists and participants for a constructive and fruitful debate.
Media reporting on this roundtable can be seen on the following links:
13.2.2015, Tanjug, FHP: 758 people killed in the bombing
13.2.2015. Novi Magazin, Through continued partnership with the NATO to achievement of goals
13.2.2015. Večernje novosti, 488 people killed in the NATO bombing in Kosovo, of that 260 in Central Serbia and 10 in Montenegro