Relations with Serbia
Serbia is deepening its political dialogue and cooperation with NATO on issues of common interest, with an important focus on support for democratic, institutional and defence reforms. While Serbia is pursuing European Union (EU) membership, unlike other Western Balkan partners, it does not aspire to join the Alliance.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Prime Minister of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić (Belgrade, November 2015)
- NATO fully respects Serbia’s policy of military neutrality.
- Cooperation and dialogue have developed steadily since 2006, when the country joined the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), a multilateral forum for dialogue which brings together all Allies and partner countries in the Euro-Atlantic area.
- Cooperation has deepened since 2015, when the country agreed its first two-year Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP).
- In July 2021, Serbia will complete its most recent IPAP, at which point it will either be renewed or transition to the new Individually Tailored Partnership Programme (ITPP).
- The NATO Military Liaison Office in Belgrade, established in December 2006, supports Serbian defence reforms, facilitates Serbian participation in activities of the PfP programme and provides assistance to NATO’s public diplomacy activities in the region.
- Kosovo remains a key subject for dialogue, given the presence of the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR), which continues to ensure a safe and secure environment on the basis of United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 1244. The Serbian armed forces have cooperated with KFOR for many years through the Joint Implementation Council, based on the 1999 Military Technical Agreement.
- NATO fully supports the continuation of the EU-facilitated dialogue aimed at normalising relations between Belgrade and Pristina.
Key areas of cooperation
Serbia’s cooperation with NATO is mutually beneficial and includes:
Building capabilities and interoperability
- Serbia joined the Planning and Review Process (PARP) in 2007 to develop the capacity of its forces to participate in UN-mandated multinational operations and EU crisis management operations. PARP also serves as a planning tool to guide and measure progress in defence and military transformation efforts.
- Since 2012, Serbia is actively engaged in Building Integrity (BI) to strengthen integrity, transparency and accountability and reduce the risk of corruption in its defence and related security sector. The ministry of defence also offers its experience to other countries engaged in the NATO BI Self-Assessment and Peer Review Process and was actively engaged in the development of the NATO BI Reference Curriculum published in 2016.
- Since 2014, Serbia is engaged in the Defence Education Enhancement Programme (DEEP), which is supporting Serbia’s efforts to develop a comprehensive and modern defence education system. Thanks to DEEP, Serbia is now a net security provider in the field of education and training, and is supporting other DEEP programmes such as the one with Armenia.
- Also since 2014, under the Partnership Interoperability Initiative, Serbia has participated in the Interoperability Platform, which brings Allies together with 24 selected partners.
- Serbia is offering expertise and training to Allies and partners at the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Training Centre in Kruševac, which was recognised as a Partnership Training and Education Centre in 2013.
- In December 2017, in coordination with several NATO Allies, Serbia conducted a course to train Iraqi military and civilian medical personnel as part of the NATO Defence and Related Security Capacity Building Initiative.
- The Allies have supported a number of NATO Trust Fund projects in Serbia. These include a project to destroy 28,000 surplus small arms and light weapons, which was completed in 2003, and another for the safe destruction of 1.4 million landmines and ammunition, which was completed in 2007. A third project for the destruction of approximately 8,000 tonnes of surplus ammunition and explosives is underway. Another five-year project, completed in 2011 and implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), helped almost 6,000 discharged defence personnel in Serbia start small businesses.
- In the framework of the Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme, leading areas for cooperation with Serbia include counter-terrorism, energy security, advanced technology, border security, mine and unexploded ordnance and clearance, and human and social aspects of security. Among these, noteworthy is Serbia’s participation in the DEXTER programme, which is developing an integrated system to detect explosives and firearms in public spaces. Furthermore, scientists from Serbia are working on a wearable smart patch that will collect and analyse medical information in real time to assist personnel responding to mass casualty incidents.
- Serbia actively engages with NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC) to develop its national civil preparedness and disaster management capabilities, and to improve interoperability in international disaster response operations. In December 2015, Serbia requested international assistance through the EADRCC in the context of an influx of refugees. Six Allied nations provided support. Serbia hosted the SRBIJA 2018 consequence management field exercise, which brought together approximately 2,000 participants from 40 countries to practise international cooperation in an earthquake scenario. As a participating country, Serbia also took part in five other EADRCC exercises.
- In 2017, Serbia launched its second National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security for the period 2017-2020. Serbia is associated with the NATO/EAPC Policy and Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, which was endorsed at the NATO Brussels Summit in 2018. Moreover, together with the United States, Serbia led a series of NATO-funded expert workshops to develop a scorecard, or set of indicators, to help assess how NATO and partner countries are mainstreaming gender in military operations.
- Serbia and NATO aim to improve public information on NATO-Serbia cooperation. The NATO Military Liaison Office in Belgrade plays an important role in this process.
- Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, NATO and Serbia have worked in close coordination. NATO has supported Serbia along various avenues and donations have been made by various Allies.
- In Kosovo, the KFOR mission provides assistance against the coronavirus to dozen of municipalities, for the benefit of all communities. This includes donations of food and clothes, together with charities and the Red Cross.