|Updated: 19-Dec-2006||NATO Update|
|19 Dec 2006||
NATO opens Military Liaison Office in Belgrade
On 18 December NATO Deputy Secretary General, Ambassador Alessandro Minuto-Rizzo opened a military liaison office in Belgrade in the presence of Serbian Defence Minister Zoran Stankovic.
Amb. Minuto-Rizzo said that its opening “will greatly facilitate the increased cooperation that will undoubtedly flow from the new stage in our relationship.”
The NATO Military Liaison Office will be located in the Serbian Ministry of Defence and will have a military staff of nine personnel from NATO member countries, headed by French Army Brigadier General Yannick Asset, as well as locally employed civilians. The office will facilitate Serbian cooperation with NATO under the Partnership for Peace programme, which it joined on 14 December with the signing of the Framework Document by President Boris Tadic.
The Military Liaison Office will support the Serbia/NATO Defence Reform Group, which since February 2006 has been advising and assisting in the reform and modernisation of Serbia’s armed forces and in creating a modern, affordable and democratically controlled defence structure for the country. Amb. Minuto Rizzo said NATO has already helped Serbia with defence reform; defence planning, budgeting and resource management; conceptual, planning and operational aspects of peacekeeping; the fight against terrorism and illegal trafficking; logistics; and language training.
The Military Liaison Office also supports the Serbia/NATO Defence Reform Group, which has been working since February 2006. The Defence Reform Group, which is co-chaired by Serbia and NATO, was established to provide advice and assistance to the Serbian authorities to enable them to reform and modernise Serbia’s armed forces and to build a modern, affordable and democratically controlled defence structure in Serbia.
The Military Liaison Office will also liaise with the Serbian military authorities on the practical aspects of the implementation of the 18 July 2005 transit agreement, to improve the logistical flow for NATO operations in the Western Balkans. Amb. Minuto Rizzo described the transit agreement as “a very strong indicator of how relations between Serbia and NATO are moving closer – both in practical terms, and politically.”