The SEEGROUP has continued its work in Brussels, meeting regularly, usually once every two weeks, at NATO Headquarters. Romania has provided the chairmanship until the end of 2002.
Equally active participation of regional countries, non-regional PfP Partner countries as well as NATO Allies has ensured strong support and wide basis for the SEEGROUP's work. A special mention is to be made on the excellent working spirit, of genuine cooperation and flexible approach.
Support and facilitation of the NATO International Staff representatives have remained pivotal for the work of the SEEGROUP and its interaction with the Alliance. The support of the Facilitators, Mr. Burak Akcapar (DPAO) and Mr. Gregorius Vassiloconstandakis, as well as Mr. Marc Francis (Executive Secretariat), has been particularly valuable.
Representatives of the Stability Pact for South East Europe, Mr. Stewart Henderson and Mr. Sabri Ergen, have regularly attended the meetings, providing a vital link to the practical and project-oriented regional co-operation in the area of security and defense.
SEEGROUP has decided not to hold a second senior level meeting in 2002, due to changes in its organizational procedures and in those of the Stability Pact for South East Europe.
In the second part of the year, SEEGROUP has focused its activity on creating the conditions for practical implementation of several important projects. The three main directions of work have remained: the SEE common assessment paper (SEECAP) and security sector reform; the approach to asymmetric threats and related security issues such as combating terrorism and border control; and facilitating coordination with other initiatives and bodies in the region, such as the Stability Pact, the South East Europe Defence Ministerials or the SECI Center for Combating Trans-border Crime. Due to competing activities, especially the involvement of participating countries in the preparation of NATO and EAPC Summit in Prague, the group has not continued to update the Compendium of Anti-Terrorism Measures in South-East Europe and the implementation of SEESTAFF.
The group discussed and agreed the Guidelines on Exchange of Political Military and Other Early Warning, Conflict Prevention, Crisis Management Information (see annex). The document calls for the establishment of a central network structure to be called “SEECHANGE Network” to exchange information that may have relevance to the evolution of the common security perceptions established in the SEECAP.
The guidelines provide for a good basis for the practical implementation of SEECHANGE initiative. Until then further work should proceed, including at an expert seminar to be held in early 2003 in Ohrid, for defining the model information architecture and technical specifications for sending, receiving and processing information.
The paper was presented and distributed to EAPC ambassadors as a contribution towards the EAPC Summit in Prague .
Thanks to meaningful financial support from the United Kingdom and additional contributions provided by the United States and Switzerland – through the means of the Democratic Control Armed Forces Centre in Geneva – SEEGROUP could proceed to initiating the elaboration of SEESTUDY.
Accordingly, SEEGROUP reviewed the conditions for implementation of SEESTUDY and agreed a Framework Implementation paper. Dr. Jonathan Eyal, from the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies, United Kingdom , was appointed as the lead implementer and coordinator of the study.
An initial number of six countries have confirmed their participation in SEESTUDY but all the remaining SEEGROUP countries have been encouraged to enlist.
Clearing-house on security issues
Starting with the second part of 2002 SEEGROUP has initiated regular clearing house meetings – once every two months – on general, relevant information of the security field.
On December 6 th, 2002, SEEGROUP organized its first extraordinary meeting at which outside countries – all EAPC countries – were invited. The “SEEGROUP Plus” concept was initiated at the fall 2001 senior level meeting in Budapest, and discussed and agreed upon in the second part of 2002. The first “SEEGROUP plus” meeting represents a meaningful threshold in increasing transparency and enhancing sharing of regional cooperation experience with the EAPC community.
After the successful completion of the Bulgarian/Swiss/UK-sponsored EAPC/SEEGROUP workshop in Sofia on 27-28 June, a collection of the workshop’s documents was edited and distributed to the EAPC by Switzerland.
In this period, the following representatives briefed SEEGROUP on their activity:
- Bg.Gen. Johan Pucher, Director of the Regional Arms Control and Verification Implementation Assistance Centre in Croatia, at the SEEGROUP Plus meeting;
- Mr. Evert Somer, Head of the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre;
- Mr. Sorin Sterie, Expert on Arms Control/SALW under WTIII of the Stability Pact for South East Europe.
The Action Plan for 2003, which will be adopted at the beginning of the next Chair’s mandate, is defined by the determination of the SEEGROUP participating countries that the SEEGROUP should remain the main forum to develop and implement activities recommended by the EAPC, through the PMSC, in the framework of the SEEI. It also takes into account the need to continue to follow-up on the SEECAP recommendations.
The SEEGROUP will continue to follow up on the activities in which it has a leading, supporting or otherwise substantial role; and it will continue its steering, co-ordination, clearing-house and information exchange activities.
Particular emphasis will be given to the issues of security sector reform; strengthening of public visibility of the SEEGROUP work; enhancing SEEGROUP co-operation and coordination with other regional initiatives; and sharing of experience with countries from other regions.
According to the tasking of Foreign Ministers, progress is expected on the following concrete projects that will be under development and consideration in SEEGROUP in 2003:
- the comparative study of national security strategies in South East Europe (SEESTUDY);
- the project on the exchange of political-military and other early warning, conflict prevention and crisis management information (SEECHANGE);
- the exchanges of border security personnel in South East Europe (SEESTAFF);
- the SEEMAG initiative, to promote civil-military interaction in security management;
- the Compendium of Anti-Terrorism Measures in South East Europe.
- Guidelines for exchange of political-military and other early warning, conflict prevention and crisis management information (SEECHANGE).
- SEESTUDY Implementation Framework.