NATO and UN enhance conflict prevention in the Western Balkans

  • 01 Oct. 2014 - 02 Oct. 2014
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  • Last updated: 13 Oct. 2014 09:40

More than 20 NATO and United Nations (UN) officials gathered at a workshop in Brussels, Belgium on 1 and 2 October to identify ways to effectively enhance conflict prevention in the Western Balkans through practical cooperation.

Participants looked at possible activities with the countries of the Western Balkans region within NATO’s Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme. They examined the current political situation in the Western Balkans and took stock of ongoing conflict-prevention activities. They also highlighted the importance of public outreach activities and their role in confidence building.

NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges Dr Jamie Shea stressed the importance of Euro-Atlantic integration of the Western Balkans. “We will not have a free Europe if we do not continue to integrate the Western Balkans,” he said. Dr Shea also underlined NATO’s continuous commitment to the region.

Mine and unexploded ordnance detection and clearance, environmental security and counter-terrorism were identified as potential areas for joint, regional SPS activities with the Western Balkans and the UN. Delegates also discussed cyber defence, human and social aspects of security, energy security as well as defence against chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear (CBRN) agents. New project proposals will be developed and presented to Allies for approval.

Ongoing cooperation

NATO and the UN have been working closely together to maintain international peace and security since the early 1990s. This cooperation began in the Western Balkans and was recently reaffirmed at the Wales Summit in September 2014 when NATO leaders agreed to foster “the growing practical cooperation between the staffs of our organisations”.

NATO’s SPS Programme has cooperated successfully with the Western Balkans region on various projects. Several countries from the region participated in a series of hands-on cyber defence training courses for national system and network administrators, strengthening the resilience against cyber attacks of their national home networks. In the field of environmental security, the SPS Programme helped to harmonise and improve seismic hazard maps and information sharing among earthquake experts across all the countries of the Western Balkans.

This event was co-organised by NATO’s Emerging Security Challenges and Political Affairs and Security Policy Divisions.