Updated: 14-May-2002 NATO Speeches

6 Dec. 2000

Chairman's Report

South East Europe Security Cooperation Steering Group (SEEGROUP)
Meeting of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council In Defence Ministers Session

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 Staff.

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 of 2000.
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 regional co-operation.

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.

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