6 Dec. 2000
Europe Security Cooperation Steering Group (SEEGROUP)
Meeting of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council In Defence Ministers
The establishment of the SEEGROUP was proposed by NATO as part of the
South East Europe Initiative (SEEI). Encouraged by the broad support for
the proposal, and guided by the principle of regional ownership, Bulgaria
initiated and offered to coordinate a process of consultation among SEE
countries and interested Allies with the support of the NATO International
The process led to joint development of the scope and modalities for
the establishment of the new regional coordination arrangement, thus reinforcing
the emphasis on regional ownership and lead of SEEI activities. At the
EAPC Ambassadorial meeting on 12 July 2000 Bulgaria announced the establishment
of the South East Europe Security Cooperation Steering Group (SEEGROUP).
The inaugural meeting took place at NATO Headquarters on 22 September
2000. Three further meetings at the level of political and military representatives
were held at NATO Headquarters.
Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, the former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia(*) and Slovenia, as well as interested
NATO countries, such as Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway,
Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States, participate in meetings
of the SEEGROUP. Austria and Switzerland, as PfP Partner countries with
active bilateral assistance programmes in the region, were also invited
and participate. The NATO International Staff observes and facilitates
the process. Bulgaria has exercised the Chairmanship in the second half
The SEEGROUP has been designed to support regional practical co-operation
in the area of security and defence, and to improve harmonisation and
co-ordination among the regional countries. It aims at identifying gaps
in existing security assistance to the region, as well as potential areas
and requirements for additional assistance which might be of benefit to
The work has practical and demand-driven focus, and is targeted at concrete
projects and initiatives relevant to the SEEI and the Stability Pact Working
Table on Security Issues.
The SEEGROUP interacts with NATO's Clearing House and the relevant EAPC/PfP
bodies. It will identify requirements and priorities for assistance and
will develop relevant recommendations to NATO's Clearing House on how
to target better and harmonise bilateral security assistance programmes.
The participating countries has pledged transparency to the EAPC.
The SEEGROUP also adds value through improved connectivity between NATO's
SEEI and regional co-operation arrangements, among which the SEDM process
should be mentioned in particular. To this end, it has been considering
possible inputs from, and providing appropriate inputs and regular briefings
to relevant SEEI fora and regional co-operative arrangements.
Taking into consideration that all SEEI activities support and complement
the objectives of the Stability Pact, a major focus of the SEEGROUP work
is the regular exchange of information and views in support of harmonisation
and co-ordination of individual projects relevant to the Stability Pact
Working Table on Security Issues. The group aims at consolidating and
streamlining the numerous individual projects and proposals in the priority
areas identified by the SP Working Table on Security Issues, and at developing
multilateral projects, as appropriate. Representatives of the Special
Co-ordinator of the Stability Pact were invited to attend regularly the
SEEGROUP meetings as observers. A special discussion on possible SEEGROUP
contribution to the implementation of the Security Working Table agenda
took place in December 2000.
The first meeting of the SEEGROUP at the level of Senior Officials was
held in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 3 October 2000. The Chairman of the Stability
Pact Security Working Table, Ambassador Kim Traavik, and the Co-Chairman,
Bulgarian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Vassiliy Takev, addressed
the meeting and underlined the importance of the SEEGROUP as a regional
cooperation and coordination forum that supports the Stability Pact efforts.
The Commander of the Multinational Peace Force South East Europe (MPFSEE),
General Zorlu, also attended the meeting and made a presentation on urgent
requirements for the operational readiness of the SEE Brigade, a CIS project
in particular. In response, Norway pledged a substantial contribution
to the project thus providing an important input to the work of the SEEGROUP.
The results of the SEEGROUP meeting were reported at the SP Working
Table on Security Issues meeting in Sofia on 4-5 October where the importance
of the SEEGROUP initiative was underscored by several delegations.
The Sofia meeting of Senior Officials also provided guidance to the
representatives of the participating countries at NATO Headquarters to
finalise an Action Plan for the future work of the SEEGROUP. The SEEGROUP
Action Plan 2000 - 2001 was endorsed on 17 November 2000.
Croatia will assume the SEEGROUP Chairmanship as of 1 January 2000.
* Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia and Turkey recognise
the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.