Updated: 05-Aug-2008 NATO Official Texts

5 Aug 2008

Chair’s Progress Report of SEEGROUP work
in the first half of 2008

South East Europe Security Cooperation Steering Group (SEEGROUP)

In the first half of 2008 SEEGROUP continued its work in Brussels, meeting approximately every two weeks at NATO Headquarters.

SEEGROUP continues to be an important forum that contributes to regional cooperation. Is a flexible and informal forum that enables participating countries to work together in the field of security through an exchange of political and security information, the facilitation of joint projects and initiatives that contribute to a common goal of strengthening stability and security in the region, while positively impacting Euro-Atlantic security

Cooperation within the SEEGROUP framework has gained increasing importance with respect to new challenges facing the region and the Euro-Atlantic area, such as the fight against terrorism and climate and environmental challenges. Therefore the work of SEEGROUP is more focused in security issues and civil emergency planning.

The work of SEEGROUP is of particular significance, provided that SEE countries hold leading roles in various projects and responsibilities for cooperation in security related fields.

The success and wide range of activities in which SEEGROUP engages has attracted a greater number of Allies and Partners, who have become participants of the forum as a result thereof. In February 2008 Ireland expressed the interest to join SEEGROUP and this request was approved by all the members. The representative of Ireland joined SEEGROUP in March 2008.

SEEGROUP is currently comprised of 32 countries, representing 20 NATO countries and 12 Partner nations. The active participation is wide basis for SEEGROUP’s work.   

SEEGROUP has also received extensive support from the NATO international staff, whose work has greatly contributed to the forum’s successful dialogue with the Alliance.  In particular, the efforts of Mr. Sabri Ergen, (DPP) and Mr. George Katsirdakis, (Head of Defence Cooperation), have played an important role in facilitating this.

In continuance of its work, SEEGROUP will hold its regular senior level meeting at the end of 2008.

Action Plan for 2008

The Action Plan for 2008, which was adopted at the beginning of the year, determines guidelines and priorities for 2008, forwarding ongoing projects and initiating new activities. In the Action Plan for 2008 special emphasis has been placed on the following up of  previously started initiatives of SEEGROUP, as well as those outlined in the 2007 Ambassadorial Declaration from the SEECAP document. The Action Plan follows mainly the SEECAP recommendations on the aforementioned areas of work.

One of the initiatives of the SEEGROUP has been potential 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. For this purpose, a joint meeting of SEEGROUP and PAP-T Working Group on Border Security was organized in May.

In line with SEEGROUP priorities and objectives, as reflected in the SEECAP document, the Poland representative, with the support of the group has initiated a project to work through a series of meetings on select aspects of security sector reform. Subsequently, SEEGROUP will organize a seminar in July on security institutional building with a focus on transparency and the fight against corruption.

Security dialogue

Relations between SEEGROUP and other forums dealing with regional security cooperation remain important for the work of the SEEGROUP.   

Cooperation with the Stability Pact for South East Europe has proven to be of great value to SEEGROUP. Such active cooperation will continue with Regional Cooperation Council (RCC).

The representative of the Stability Pact, Mrs. Melanie Pollard, briefed the SEEGROUP in March 2008 on transition from Stability pact to Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), and the challenges in the areas of defence and security.

In May the Chairman of the SEEGROUP met in Brussels the new expert on security issues from Regional Cooperation Council, Mr. Efraim Radev, who shortly briefed on the work and priority areas of RCC following the transition from the Stability Pact to the RCC.   During the meeting, it was noted that regional cooperation in SEE, through a regionally owned framework, provides as well as receives political guidance to and from relevant task forces and initiatives active in specific areas, while promoting European and Euro-Atlantic integration. The Chair provided information on the work of SEEGROUP and expressed the interest to continue its cooperation with the RCC through joint initiatives that positively affect stability and security in the region.

In June Mr. Rune Jensen, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway gave a presentation about NORDIC-Enhanced Nordic security and defence cooperation. The high level Norwegian diplomat briefed on the efforts to formalize Nordic cooperation (labour market/passport union); joint experiences of Nordic countries from UNPROFOR, SFOR, KFOR and EUFOR; different tracks in the foreign policy of Nordic countries with regards to NATO and EU integration; economic and political cooperation with Russia; and the process of seeking to enhance cooperation and integration of Nordic security and defence policy, among other topics.

The Clearing House has remained the main tool for the exchange of political and security information’s among the countries of the region. This kind of regular communication has provided an opportunity to all SEEGROUP countries to obtain a clear and comprehensive understanding of recent developments in the SEE region as well as upcoming events and activities.

Expert presentation to the SEEGROUP

Several presentations were delivered during this period to the SEEGROUP:

In May, members of the SEEGROUP were briefed on Crisis management exercise 2008-CMX 08, which was organized by NATO’s IS, IMS and SHAPE, from 16 to 22 April 2008 in Brussels. The briefing was provided by Mr. Ilay Ferrier, Head of Crisis Exercising and Management System, who informed on exercise concepts and objectives, as well as the exercise scenario.

Mr. Istvan Erdos from Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC) informed, the SEEGROUP about the tasks and responsibilities of EADRCC and its active engagement in the region in the field of civil emergency planning.

Another important briefing was given by Mr. Barry Adams, NATO Liaison Office in Ukraine, who informed the members of SEEGROUP about the lessons learned in providing training to civilians working in defence and security sectors in Ukraine.  

Mr. George Katsirdakis, Head of Defence Cooperation, also addressed the SEEGROUP where he spoke on ways to further enhance SEEGROUP work in the near future.

Way ahead

SEEGROUP will continue its work in the second half of 2008 in accordance with its Action Plan.  SEEGROUP also takes into account the need to follow-up on SEECAP recommendations.

During this period particular attention will also be drawn to the on-going projects, preparation of the annual ambassadorial meeting, visit of the SEEGROUP representatives to Skopje, enhancement of the SEEGROUP visibility within NATO and enhancing SEEGROUP cooperation and coordination with other regional initiatives.