CEAS’s VII Belgrade NATO Week – spring edition
Serbia and NATO - A Look At The Future
On the occasion of the 70 years since NATO's founding and 20 years of the intervention in FRY Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies (CEAS) from Belgrade, Serbia organized a series of events in Belgrade, under the umbrella of the CEAS high annual flagship program - Belgrade NATO Week. It is important to emphasize that both events took place during the period of dangerous tension in the relations between Serbia and Kosovo due to the excessive use of the force of the Kosovo armed forces, Special Unit Operation SUO (in Albanian NjSO). Belgrade NATO Week program since its inception enjoys support of the Public Diplomacy Division of NATO (PDD).
First event in this series, conference titled “Serbia and NATO - A Look At The Future” was organized on 13 May, 2019 in the Palace of Serbia, in cooperation with the Vice President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia Vladimir Marinkovic and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade. CEAS had the great honor to host former Lieutenant General of the USA Army Europe and current Pershing Chair in Strategic Studies at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) Frederick Benjamin “Ben” Hodges. Among other keynote speakers participants had an opportunity to hear: General Milan Mojsilović, the Chief General Staff of Serbian Armed Forces; Mr. Zoran Jolevski, former Minister of Defense of the Republic of North Macedonia and the former North Macedonia's Ambassador to the United States of America and Mr. Robert Pszczel, Senior Officer for Russia and the Western Balkans, Public Diplomacy Division (PDD), NATO HQ.
The main topics of the event were: “As a military neutral country in an increasingly challenging geopolitical environment, what are the perspectives on the security policy of Serbia? KFOR and Serbia’s participation in the NATO program “Partnership for Peace”, are just two examples of the close practical cooperation between Serbia and NATO – how can Serbia and NATO further strengthen the level of cooperation to meet future challenges of common interest?”
During his visit to Serbia, General Hodges had a meeting with the president of the Republic of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic.
In an official statement after the meeting with General Hodges, President Vucic emphasized that Serbia will maintain its military neutrality and that, as a reliable partner in the Partnership for Peace program, in particular through the Individual Partnership Action Plan, which includes enhanced political dialogue, is ready to contribute to the maintenance of the peace and stability in the region, and respond to common security challenges. He stressed that Serbia will continue to strengthen its cooperation with the Ohio National Guard and any other type of bilateral military co-operation with the USA.
Additionally, President Vucic explained to General Hodges the reasons for the stalemate in Belgrade and Pristina's dialogue, as well as the intention of Serbia to continue the dialogue when Pristina withdraws the anti-civilization 100% fees on goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. General Hodges stressed that long-term stability requires reconciliation and good neighborly relations, and voiced full support for efforts to resolve the crisis peacefully, respecting the norms of international public law, as well as the adopted regional agreements. General Hodges, as a major supporter of the transatlantic cooperation stated that “NATO is not only a military Alliance, it is a federation of states that share and defend common democratic values”.
During the visit General Hodges together with the CEAS Director Ms. Jelena Milic, laid a wreath at the “Memorial of children who died during the NATO aggression” (official title of the monument) in 1999 at Tasmajdan Park in Belgrade.
After his visit to Serbia, Hodges penned a blog “A New Approach to Serbia and Kosovo” for the Alphen Group. This is the latest in a series of blog posts produced by the Alphen Group (https://thealphengroup.home.blog/), which was recently founded by a group of world's leading experts on geopolitical and security issues. The group will address the future of transatlantic relations and security and defense of Europe in a proactive way.
In the blog, Hodges argues that Serbian President is under immense pressure from inside Serbia and from Russia and that Kosovo’s 100% tariff on Serbian goods crippled his negotiating position. Hodges added that the Serbian President was also recently criticized by the Serbian Orthodox Clergy, denounced as a traitor if he contemplates recognizing Kosovar independence. He also added that despite all of the issues regarding Serbia/Kosovo relations, President Vucic and President Thaci have both demonstrated statesmanship in the past several months, trying to find a solution to what seems to the West an intractable situation.
NATO at 70 - Future challenges
Second CEAS’s event in the Spring Belgrade NATO Week series, was panel discussion titled NATO at 70 - Future challenges, which was held on 30 May 2019, and organized in cooperation with the Atlantic Council of the United States and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade. Event was held at the Norwegian Residence in Belgrade.
The main topics of the panel discussion were Future Challenges, NATO and EU, NATO in the Southeast Europe (planned activities for the Eastern Mediterranean – less known in Serbia), NATO in the Western Balkans and Serbia.
After the welcoming address of Ms. Jelena Milić, CEAS Director, participants had a great honor to listen a presentation by Mr. Damon Wilson, Executive Vice President of the Atlantic Council USA and Ms. Judy Ansley, Senior Advisor at the Atlantic Council’s Future Europe Initiative. Panel was moderated by H.E. Mr. Arne Sannes Bjørnstad, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway to Serbia. Among the distinguished guests, CEAS had an honor to have Mr. Vladimir Marinkovic, Vice President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia.
During their visit, Atlantic Council’s delegation, led by Mr. Wilson had meetings with the president of the Republic of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic and Prime Minister Ana Brnabic. Both President Vucic and Mr. Wilson gave interviews for Serbian media. You can find the statements at following links: https://www.glasamerike.net/a/vilson-srbija-ne%C4%87e-biti-%C4%8Dlanica-eu-ako-postane-autoritarna-dr%C5%BEava/4958114.html and https://www.danas.rs/politika/vucic-srbija-usredsredjena-na-jacanje-odnosa-sa-sad/
Both events that CEAS organized in May, under the umbrella of the Belgrade NATO Week had wide media coverage in both domestic and regional media.
Overviews of the previous Fifth and Sixth Belgrade NATO Week, as well as the welcome speech delivered by Director of CEAS Ms Jelena Milić at the Opening Ceremony of the Sixth Belgrade NATO Week could be found at the following links:
The Seventh regular Belgrade NATO Week will be held in mid-November 2019.