Ministry of defence Republic of Serbia

A Step Forward – Soon Serbian Civilians in Peacekeeping Missions under the Auspices of the UN, EU and OSCE

Today, in the Palace of Serbia in Belgrade a two day conference was initiated dealing with establishment of a system for the participation of civilian experts in multinational operations of the OSCE, EU and UN.

The Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Serbia and the OSCE Mission in Serbia are the organisers of the conference which was opened by the Minister of Defence Aleksandar Vulin. During the opening the present were also addressed by Head of the EU Delegation in the Republic of Serbia Ambassador Sem Fabrizi, Head of the OSCE Mission in our country Ambassador Andrea Oricio and Assistant Minister for European Integration Ksenija Milenković.

Greeting the participants, after he wished them successful work, Minister Vulin underlined that the Ministry of Defence and our entire society had strong and deep experiences when it came to peacekeeping operations.

- Even from the time of previous states that we belonged to, from the Sinai Peninsula to the present, the Ministry of Defence was present where it was difficult, where it was required to establish peace, maintain it or to participate in rebuilding the areas devastated by war and political conflicts. From the first to the last mission, ever since we began until today, when we still proudly and with satisfaction participate in numerous peacekeeping missions, led both by the United Nations or the European Union, we have confirmed and demonstrated one way or another how much our armed forces is respected, capable and worthy of attention, to what extent it is capable of dealing with multitude of challenges – Minister Vulin said and reminded that at the particular moment the members of the Ministry of Defence and Serbian Armed Forces were deployed in ten peacekeeping operations six of them being under the auspices of the United Nations and four being under the command of the European Union.

He emphasised that 341 members of the Ministry of Defence and Serbian Armed Forces were in the territories from Cyprus to the Central African Republic, Somalia and Lebanon and they were assisting people to make their lives better.

- They assist those countries to function, and assist the United Nations and European Union so that they can say that they have capacities and capabilities to resolve problems. For the next year the Ministry of Defence envisaged seven hundred of our members to be deployed to the peacekeeping operations. I talk about the Ministry of Defence and Serbian Armed Forces, about soldiers, people who have committed their lives to the armed forces, but it is high time Serbia took a step forward, and started participating in civilian missions as well. Not because that is part of this chapter or another, but because it is good and useful for the Republic of Serbia, to extend the influence of our country, and the influence is very much so extended when you participate in peacekeeping missions, when you show how much you are capable, organised and ready and when you show that, apart from your armed forces already recognised by the world, you also have civilians who can do much good where they have been sent – the minister of defence said and reminded that every civilian in a peacekeeping mission meant a lot because sometimes, the influence that he or she could exert can be of critical significance.

- In each of such countries, when conflicts are over and when the countries begin recovering, rebuilding, their political leaderships as a rule turn to those who helped them in the most difficult moments, and wish to work on the process of recovering with those who were there and worked there in the difficult days and in difficult times. Each country that participates in a peacekeeping mission, be it military or civilian, certainly has political, economic and humanitarian interest, and the state of Serbia has no reason to be any different. Our wishes and readiness, and that is why we are working on the legal framework, are to start participating in civilian peacekeeping missions, together with developed world in order to assist and mitigate the consequences of wars, conflicts and crisis. Anyways, who else can know better than us what it is like and appreciate the assistance when it comes after the times of hardship? We know what it is like, just like we know to appreciate those who have helped us and that is exactly why we wish to be equally appreciated and capable to say that our soldiers and our civilians, wherever they were, were remembered for being good, hardworking, kind and sympathetic for their suffering – Minister Vulin explained.

- We are people who are able to understand and ease somebody else’s pain because we very well remember our own. That is why the state of Serbia, working on establishing the legal framework, no later than the next year, and I am sure of it, will be able to express its capability just like it shows the political will as well, to participate in future civilian missions, to help those who require it and just like our soldiers are talked about with great respect, I am confident that our people in civilian missions will be talked about in the same manner – Minister Vulin said opening the conference.

Assistant Minster for European Integration Ksenija Milenković, spoke at the opening of the conference about the importance of the participation in military and civilian missions of the European Union and the UN for the process of harmonisation of policy and legal framework in the context of opening the Chapter 31 – Foreign defence and security policy.

Head of Delegation of the European Union in the Republic of Serbia Sem Fabrizi pointed out that Serbia was increasingly perceived as a partner in the defence and security sector and that it had already provided an immense contribution in missions in the framework of Common Defence and Security Policy.

- The participation of Serbia in those missions is particularly appreciated, especially because of professionalism dedication and knowledge of the people from Serbia. Some 30 military officers have been deployed in four out of six missions and Serbia is indeed an important factor providing contribution to the operations in the framework of common security and defence policy. I see that there is a common and strong interest between the European Union and Serbia in the participation of civilians from Serbia in the EU led civilian missions and currently there are ten of them by which we are striving to secure a safer international order. That is precisely why we are conducting intensive talks with the Serbian Government about the possibility of Serbian civilians participating in some of our civilian missions - Head of Delegation of the European Union in the Republic of Serbia Ambassador Sem Fabrizi stated.

Head of the OSCE Mission in Serbia, Ambassador Andrea Oricio stated that he was proud because his organisation hosted the event together with the Ministry of Defence.

- We perceive this Conference as an opportunity to deepen our partnership and to create opportunities for Serbia to engage its fantastic human potential for the creation of peace all over the world, which is in line with our all-encompassing approach to the international security. Our goal is for Serbia to feel as an owner of one, entirely functional system of deployment of civilians, which is regulated by well harmonised set of rules implemented by professionals – the OSCE representative said and added that civilians, the people who do not wear uniform and come from different walks of life, also played critical role in the reduction of social violence and creation of secure environment.

The sessions of the first day of the Conference, moderated by Colonel Katarina Štrbac PhD, Director of the Directorate for European Integration and Project Management in Defence Policy Sector, were dedicated to the overview of best European practices in terms of legal framework that enables temporary deployment of civilian experts to multinational operations, while the participants of the second day of the Conference will deal with the issues of development of human and institutional capacities as well as the horizontal matters that are important for the participation of civilian experts in multinational operations led by the OSCE, EU and the UN.

Serbia has a developed system of deploying its military structures in peacekeeping missions but it is still developing the capacities for deployment of civilian experts.
This matter is talked about in the context of the accession process of Serbia to the European Union, more precisely, in the framework of the Negotiation Chapter 31 since the civilian peacekeeping operations make a significant element of the implementation of foreign security and defence policy of the European Union.

Having in mind that our country begins the process of establishing a national system that would facilitate deployment of civilian experts to peacekeeping missions, the representatives of state institutions responsible for the implementation of these activities will have an opportunity to learn more at this Conference about different legal frameworks that regulate this issue in the OSCE member states, which have vast experience in sending civilian to multinational operations.