SEEGROUP this year celebrated its fifth anniversary. Under the Chairmanship of Albania, the Group continued its work in Brussels , meeting every two weeks at NATO Headquarters.
During its fifth year of its activity, SEEGROUP continued to be an important forum of regional cooperation. By being a flexible, informal, and open-ended forum made up of interested Allies and Partners, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro, not yet PfP/EAPC members, the SEEGROUP continues to enable participating countries to work together in the field of security. It offers the opportunity of launching joint projects and initiatives that serve the common goal of strengthening stability and security in the region, at the same time having a direct positive impact on the Euro-Atlantic security. This cooperation becomes even more important in respect of new challenges such as the fight against terrorism.
Regional ownership remains the key pillar of this forum. In this respect the SEE members of the group are the initiators of all the valuable projects produced by the SEEGROUP, thus enhancing regional cooperation in security related fields. Active involvement of Allies and Partners that are closely interested in the long term stability and security of the region is of paramount importance for the successful work of the SEEGROUP .
During 2004 efforts were made to further increase the visibility of the Group’s work at both a regional and wider level. In this context, the Albanian Chair presented the SEEGROUP activities to the EAPC/PMSC in November, stressing among other things the importance of regional cooperation in enhancing security in the region.
The linkage between SEEGROUP and other fora dealing with regional cooperation remains a crucial factor for the work of SEEGROUP. This better harmonises projects and avoids overlapping. In this context, the Cooperation with the Stability Pact for SEE remains a cornerstone for the SEEGROUP activities, through joint initiatives that positively affect stability and security in the region. Representatives of the Stability Pact attend some of SEEGROUP’s meetings, providing an important link to the practical and project-oriented regional cooperation in the area of security and defense. Following an invitation of Working Table III of the Stability Pact, the Albanian Chair participated in the last meeting held in Skopje on 17 November. This showed the close link between the SEEGROUP and the Stability Pact Working Table III .
Support and facilitation by NATO IS representatives remains important for the work of the SEEGROUP and its interaction with the Alliance .
In 2005 the SEEGROUP will be chaired by Serbia and Montenegro .
Achievments for 2004
The Albanian Chair has sought to build upon the previous achievements of the Group, stressing at the same time the clear message that regional cooperation is a key part of creating a stable security producing region. It has also sought to emphasise the willingness and the self-obligation of the countries of the region to take responsibility for their own neighbourhood and to enhance regional ownership.
The Chair has started work on a new initiative aimed at increasing regional co-operation in the fight against terrorism, the SEEPRO. The Chair has brought forward the work on ongoing initiatives, such as the SEECHANGE and SEESTUDY projects, as well as concentrating on issues of Border Security and Management. The Clearing House for the exchange of information in the field of security continues to be a useful exercise, especially for those countries who are not yet EAPC members (Serbia-Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina) with important information on security issues being exchanged among its members.
By building on the food for thought paper distributed by the previous SEEGROUP Chair, the current Chair, in cooperation with IS, has sought ways and means on how the work of SEEGROUP can be enhanced.
Building on previous work of the SEEGROUP (e.g. the Compendium of measures adopted against terrorism), and taking stock of the work being undertaken by the United Nations CTC, the Alliance and the countries of the region, SEEGROUP has sought to contribute, within its means and capabilities, to the fight against terrorismthrough a new project, SEEPRO. Having agreed on the concept of this project, the SEEGROUP has approved and subsequntly adopted its modalities and the respective questionnaire. Four SEEGROUP members, Albania , Bosnia and Herzegovina , Moldova and Serbia and Montegro have so far expresed their willingness to participate in this project.
The SEESTUDY was finalised in June 2004 and marked a success in achieving its aims. The initiation of the SEESTUDY project goes back to 2002. It was designed to assist countries in the region in identifying their individual and comparative progress in both Management of Defence Budgets and in Crisis Management fields. The five countries of the region that volunteered to participate in the project were visited by a United Kingdom team of experts.
The team produced individual reports for each country on the Management of Defence Budgets and Crisis Management procedures. These formed the basis for a Final Comparative Study of the region that was shared with all members of the SEEGROUP. The Final Comparative Study was subsequently presented by the United Kingdom to the SEEGROUP, which will discuss how best to make use of it.
The implementation of an internet based facility for the electronic exchange of documents on early warning, conflict prevention and crisis management, SEECHANGE was succesfully finalised with the financial and techical support of Switzerland. On two ad hoc arranged meetings in February and in November the IT-Attache of the Swiss Mission to NATO presented the system‘s functions to the SEEGROUP. SEECHANGE is now fully operational and ready to be used by the SEEGROUP members in Brussels and respective capitals.
Border Security and Management
S EEGROUP continued to closely follow the work undertaken in the context of the Ohrid process on Border Security and Management. The Chair regularly informed the Group‘s members on the work undertaken by the four partner organisations (NATO, EU, OSCE, Stability Pact) and the five countries of the region participating in this process.
An EAPC/SEEGROUP Workshop on Integrated Border Management took place in Tirana from 21 st to 23 rd of January 2004. This workshop was jointly organised by Albania , Switzerland and the United Kingdom in co-operation with NATO, and was chaired by NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Defence Planning and Policy. The Workshop was intended as a contribution to follow-up the Ohrid Conference on Border Security and Border Management (May 2003) and as an event within the "Partnership Action Plan Against Terrorism”. Its main objectives were the analysis of cross-border threats to security from different regional perspectives, the strengthening of regional and cross-border co-operation, and the ways of enhancing border security and border management. The workshop also offered EAPC nations in regions such as the Caucasus and Central Asia the possibility to actively participate and take on board the lessons learned from the methodology of the Ohrid border process.
It has been agreed to hold a second similar SEEGROUP workshop in Skopje in the first half of 2005 that will again be sponsored by Switzerland
Expert presentations to the SEEGROUP
Several presentations were delivered during 2004 to the SEEGROUP:
A leading expert of the United Nations CTC and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime illustrated in detail the overall response of the countries of South East Europe to the requirements and implementation of UNSCR 1373.
The representative of NATO‘s Crisis Mangement and Operations Directorate, delivered presentations on NATO‘s objectives for 2004 in the context of Ohrid process of border security and management.
The Representative of the Stability Pact gave various presentation to the SEEGROUP on the work undertaken by the five countries participating in the Ohrid process of border security and management. These detailed the meeting of the representatives of the border guards/servicies and National Contact Points held in Zabreb in June and the Second Senior Level Meeting of the Ohrid Border Process, held in Tirana on the 26 –27 October.