by Mr Dragan Šutanovac, Minister of Defence of Serbia to the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in Defence Ministers Session
Mr. Secretary General,
I am honoured to represent Serbia at our first meeting of defence ministers in the EAPC format. The fact that Serbia has taken its rightful place at this table underpins the structure of European security and represents significant mutual investment. NATO has invested in Serbia by inviting us to join the PfP and Serbia stands ready to invest in PfP by taking a proactive role. We are also decisive to complete cooperation with ICTY. New Serbian Government has already shown that in practise.
The remarkable improvement in relations between Serbia and NATO over the last several years assumed institutional form by the signing of the PfP Framework Document. It has widely opened possibilities for the promotion of cooperation that has already been in place.
The first steps of cooperation were established with KFOR in 2001 and they have been constantly improving, having mutual confidence fully established today. In 2003, the Tailored Cooperation Programme was launched, enabling us to participate in some PfP activities. The development of our SDR, initiated the foundation of the DRG Serbia-NATO in early 2006. The Group has proved itself as a useful and innovative mechanism, based on PfP PAP-DIB principles. Also, in the end of 2006, NATO established its Military Liaison Office in Belgrade in the MoD. I am delighted that these significant steps have been mentioned in the Chairman's Report on the Euro-Atlantic Partnership.
We view our participation in PfP as a wide-ranging and intensive cooperation. Ministry of Defence has already begun to achieve effective interoperability in the fields of military organization and operational procedures. We are interested in various cooperation areas such as
- military education and training;
- defence planning and budgeting;
- peacekeeping and humanitarian operations;
- NBC defence; etc.
I would like to stress our strong commitment to use the Euro-Atlantic framework in intensifying regional cooperation and contributing to a stable and longstanding peace in the region. In the broader multilateral context, we are on the way to participating in NATO-led peacekeeping operations, particularly ISAF in Afghanistan, with certain capabilities such as Medical Teams.
The above-mentioned areas of cooperation, as well as the availability of assets for PfP activities, have been defined in the Presentation Document that is to be adopted by the Serbian Government in next few weeks. We are also ready to move on with PARP process, having already finalized the PARP Survey. A similar dynamic applies to signing the Security Agreement and the establishment of our Mission to NATO.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear friends,
A huge political and security challenge ahead of us is resolving the future status of Kosovo and Metohija. I am deeply concerned about the precedent an imposed solution could set in the region and throughout the world.
That is why Serbia remains dedicated to finding a mutually-acceptable compromise solution to this fundamental challenge. A solution that respects the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Serbia while at the same time enables our ethnic-Albanian citizens in Kosovo and Metohija to satisfy their legitimate demand for substantial self-governance. Please, do not underestimate abilities of democratic Serbia to reach a compromise that would be beneficial for all involved.
We believe that only the solution based on the principles we all subscribe to - those contained in the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, as well as those reaffirmed in the PfP Framework Document - could bring a lasting stability to Serbia, including Kosovo and Metohija, and the region as a whole.
So when we say that Serbia will never accept the independence of Kosovo and Metohija, it also means that Serbia will not give up on Euro-Atlantic values. The Serbian Armed Forces have been firmly committed to sustaining peace and stability, especially through intensive partnership with KFOR. I confirm the constant readiness of Serbia to improve all aspects of this cooperation. We are partners now - partners in designing the joint future of security.
To sum up, let me say that Serbia perceives PfP membership as a strong impulse for its ongoing reforms, further promotion of dialogue, mutual understanding and practical cooperation, and for achieving effective interoperability with NATO.
I thank you, once again, for having this opportunity to reiterate the determination of Serbia to be a respected, active and reliable Partner for Peace.