South Eastern Europe (SEE) as a contributor
to security and stability
The Review of the SEE Common Assessment Paper on Regional Challenges and Opportunities (SEECAP) from May 2001
1. This year marks the 8th anniversary of the South East European Initiative (SEEI), which was inaugurated during the NATO Washington Summit, in a time of uncertainty especially for the SEE region. In the framework of SEEI, interested Allies and regional countries established SEEGROUP in 2000.
2. As the NATO Bucharest Summit approaches, we, the SEEGROUP Ambassadors recall the important progress the region has made and acknowledge the determination of the countries of the region to overcome challenges ahead.
3. The South East Europe Common Assessment Paper on Regional Security Challenges and Opportunities (SEECAP), which was endorsed by our Ministers of Foreign Affairs in May 2001, provides us with a good vantage point to compare the accomplishments to date and identify continuing and new challenges.
4. We, as before, remain united in our resolve to foster peace, security and prosperity for all. This vision now increasingly extends beyond the region, in making South Eastern Europe a net producer of security and contributor to peace and stability. The progress in our region constitutes in itself a contribution to the expansion and consolidation of the zone of stability, democracy, human rights, rule of law and market economy in Europe, with the support of NATO, EU, OSCE and the Council of Europe. The deployment of the SEEBRIG in ISAF in 2006, comprising around 350 troops and a mission budget of €14.5 m., is an important example of efforts in pursuit of this vision.
5. The prospect of accession to the European and Euro-Atlantic structures continues to constitute for the countries in the region an incentive and a catalyst for ever-closer cooperation and peaceful co-existence. The regional countries have all developed institutionalized relations with Euro-Atlantic institutions at various levels. Bulgaria and Romania have become members of both NATO and EU. The three MAP countries are looking with anticipation towards the Bucharest Summit, where the Alliance intends to extend further invitations to those countries who meet NATO’s performance based standards and are able to contribute to Euro-Atlantic security and stability. The Republic of Moldova developed an Individual Partnership Action Plan with NATO. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia have adhered to Partnership for Peace.
6. The statement by the original SEECAP that no country in SEE poses a military threat to any other can be re-affirmed even more emphatically today. Since the SEECAP was agreed, democracy and rule of law have taken deeper roots in all countries in the region. In the area of defence, important reforms have been accomplished, mostly in coordination with NATO and transparent to each other. Border security and management have been demilitarized to become a law enforcement task, including through the use of the Ohrid Border Process, which has also provided an exemplary cooperation between NATO, EU, OSCE and Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe. Social reforms have gone a long way and where difficulties remain, they are no longer as acute as during the immediate aftermath of the decade of radical transformation of the social system and of conflicts and instability. In the economic field, governmental, industrial and financial/banking reforms have also made headway but need pursuing vigorously and in a continuous fashion. In addition to reforms, enhanced stability contributes to making the region more attractive to foreign investments and therefore plays a part in increasing its economic vitality.
7. Despite the remarkable progress achieved since the establishment of the SEEI, it is in all our interests that the trans-Atlantic community remain engaged in the region. The accomplishments are still fragile and the presence of NATO and EU on the ground is still required to maintain peace and security in certain parts of the region.
8. In terms of challenges, each country's situation is different and not all challenges affect all countries. Further work is needed in the areas of judicial reform and rule of law, minority rights, return of refugees and IDPs, as well as full cooperation with ICTY. Furthermore, cross border organized crime and human trafficking as well as smuggling remain important challenges for the region. These challenges need ever closer cooperation at various levels: cross border, regional, European and broader international. The wide range of environmental challenges in the region could be addressed through enhanced cooperation in CEP.
9. The challenges posed by asymmetric threats, including terrorism, as continuously highlighted by 9/11 and other terrorist attacks, are ever more complex and at global scale. The SEE countries are determined to contribute in countering this scourge. Many regional and broader international cooperation options remain to be more fully explored, one of the most important of these being information/intelligence sharing. Asymmetric threats also underscore the importance of inter-agency cooperation between the security services (from law enforcement to armed forces) of a particular country, as much as cross border cooperation between different countries.
10. The reform and transformation of the entire spectrum of the security sector, including that of defence, is a necessary and continuous process. In addressing this challenge, the SEE countries will need to take into account evolving national priorities, evolving regional and international strategic environment and the requirements of their European and Euro-Atlantic integration. The capabilities relevant to the challenges need to be developed, while addressing financial, institutional and other constraints. Transparency of defence planning and budgeting is important, including as a factor in regional confidence building. Civilian expertise and capacity in the security sectors can be enhanced in line with the democratic control.
11. Regional cooperation has served the SEE well and remains important in addressing and eventually overcoming many of the challenges in the region. Regional cooperation has a good track record in the SEE with SEECP, SEDM, SECI, SEEI, BSEC and Stability Pact. The latter’s transfer to full regional ownership under the Regional Cooperation Council is welcome as another indication of solid grassroots regional leadership.
12. The SEE Security Cooperation Steering Group (SEEGROUP), in its informal and flexible setting, has served as the main forum for SEEI and has substantially contributed to regional cooperation in terms of practical cooperation, dialogue, transparency and confidence building. In that regard, we praise its work and task it through the development of the annual Action Plan to consider the following areas for practical cooperation:
- Continued political dialogue on regional and Euro-Atlantic security issues;
- Enhanced support for the participation of SEEGROUP Partners in PfP activities, among others through exchanging common experiences and lessons learnt in the use of various PfP instruments, including in the preparation for joining NATO;
- Contribution to the implementation of the Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism, including the possible co-chairmanship of a working group in one of the priority areas;
- Exchange of lessons learnt in other areas of interest for SEEGROUP members, such as security sector reform, civil emergency planning and where it would provide added value.