It is together, with both the East and the West. The Republic of Serbia is military neutral, but is determined to continue to pursue a balanced military policy, and to continue to work with its partners both in the East and in the West. Most state and military leaders of Serbia believe that this is a real measure of cooperation with all those interested in it, so the Ministry of Defense of Serbia will continue to advocate for improving relations with all countries and international organizations in accordance with the national interests and political priorities of Serbia. This is only a small part of what was heard at the conference “Cooperation between Serbian army and NATO member country armies”, held on September 20th, at the Belgrade hotel “Crowne Plaza”, organized by the Atlantic Council of Serbia, under the auspices of the US Embassy.
The conference was moderated by the President of the Atlantic Council of Serbia and Vice-President of the Atlantic Treaty Organization (ATA) Vladan Živulović, and this intriguing topic was addressed by the chief of Department for International Military Cooperation, Sector for Defense policy at Ministry of Defense, Republic of Serbia-Colonel Milan Rankovic, Brigadier General Cesare Marinelli-chief of NATO Military Liaison Office, Colonel Douglas Faherty-Defense Attache of US Embassy and Dragan Sormaz, a SNS member in the Serbian Parliament, and the chairman of the Parliamentary delegation of that state in the NATO Assembly.
Journalists and photographers of several media reported on this conference, and it is interesting that the representatives of the Embassies of Russia and Belarus were also present in the audience and that they carefully followed all the presentations!
The first speaker, Colonel Rankovic, pleasantly surprised everyone present with an exhaustive report, and a wealth of interesting information. Among other things, he said that the Ministry of Defense of Serbia is currently cooperating with more than 60 countries in the world. He added that the Serbian Army and the Ministry of Defense participated in 25 exercises with other armies in 2017, and that this year, 36 joint activities are planned. “In line with the balanced defense policy of the Serbian Ministry of Defense, the military cooperation of our country is focused on improving relations with our strategic partners: These are the Russian Federation, the EU, the United States, China, and neighboring countries. In addition, we also cooperate with the armed forces of the Russian Federation, Belarus, China, Greece, France, Cyprus, Slovakia, Spain, Slovenia and many other countries” added Rankovic. He also stated that 279 members of the Serbian Armed Forces were involved in multinational operations under the auspices of the European Union and the United Nations, and that a significant segment of the cooperation of the Serbian Armed Forces with other armies and the participation of our medical staff in joint exercises.
It all depends on Serbia
In the presentation of General Marinelli, his desire was to show that “NATO” neither conditioned nor exerted pressure on Serbia to become a member of the Western Military Alliance. He pointed out that Serbia’s decision on whether it wants to remain neutral or wants to change such a position, and to join the family of 29 countries that are members of “NATO” depends exclusively on Serbia. Marinelli added that “NATO” does not mind the cooperation of Serbia with Russia and Belarus because, in his words, the Western Alliance is actively cooperating with Sweden and Finland, although these two countries are not members of NATO. “It is up to Serbia to decide whether to become a NATO member or not. Serbia depends on how much it will work with NATO. We can offer you a lot of training and opportunities. We offer to Serbia knowledge of 29 countries of our member countries, and you can choose whatever you want. We value everything that Serbia is doing in the Balkans, “he stressed. Among other things, Marinelli offered Serbia the arrival of the so-called. mobile training teams, comprised of top-trained and experienced officers from various NATO member countries who would transfer their knowledge to members of the Serbian Armed Forces. His presentation sounded encouraging and conciliatory, and it completely discredited from bombastic and sensationalist texts on our social networks and in Serbian tabloids, according to which “NATO” does not choose the means and methods to force Serbia to give up its military neutrality.
Serbia needs to intensify relations with the United States!
“11 years ago when the intensive cooperation between Serbia and NATO started, on power was Vojislav Kostunica. After that, cooperation with our country and “NATO” stopped. When the next step was finalized, and signed the so-called the agreement “IPAP” between Serbia and “NATO” was in power by Boris Tadic. However, after that, it is all over again, ” said Dragan Sormaz. He said that, regardless of current problems, America is undoubtedly the strongest and most dominant state in the world at the moment, and that many countries respect it. According to him, it is in the interest of Serbia finally to “take off the cataract with the eyes” and intend to cooperate with the United States of America! Sormaz stressed that Serbia’s priority in the coming period should be to become a credible, loyal, and predictable partner of the United States . In his words, this is the key to Serbia going further. Sormaz stressed that Serbia should pursue such a policy, and that it should not neglect maintaining good relations with other states that are her friends. According to Sormaz, the eventual intensification of the relations between Serbia and the United States would certainly contribute to resolving the problem between Serbia and Kosovo in a positive way. He believes that Serbia is on the key milestone, because if it succeeds, there will be no obstacles anymore for that country to move forward. Otherwise, if this opportunity is missed, the situation will worsen from year to year because the birth rate in Serbia is constantly decreasing and the number of its inhabitants is constantly decreasing.
For America military cooperation with Serbia is very important.
The US Embassy in Belgrade is paying great attention to the development of military cooperation with Serbia, Colonel Faherty said. This was illustrated by the fact that there are 13 people working in its military department and that they have a lot of work to do. According to him, the results of their efforts are multiple and visible. They are not only looking at joint military exercises, but also in providing various types of education in the US to our students and members of the Serbian Armed Forces, donating various types of assistance to our army, financing the destruction of mines and unexploded ammunition in the territory of Serbia, and in many other ways. Speaking about American-Serbian military cooperation, Colonel Faherty cited more than a good example of the joint exercise “Double Eagle”, which was carried out in the territory of Vojvodina at the end of last year. He emphasized that this exercise was planned and realized in just two weeks, which he said was impressive and for every compliment.