|13-14 October, 2005|
Radisson SAS Grand Hotel, Sofia
STATEMENT by H.E. Sven Alkalaj
Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to NATO
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my honor to address this distinguished gathering. Allow me to thank the organizer, the Centre for Study of Democracy, and eminent representatives of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Serbia and Montenegro and Embassy of Norway in Sofia, for putting a lot of effort to make this Seminar a success. The Seminar should be a good introduction to future discussions within the SEEGROUP concerning the project SEECAP (South East Europe Common Assessment Paper on Regional Security Challenges and Opportunities). It was endorsed four years ago but will be brought to the attention of the SEEGROUP to define present security environment and challenges in the region of South East Europe.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is represented at the Seminar by two experts, one from the Ministry of Security and one from the Ministry of Defense, who will later give presentations on ongoing security and defense reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Being an Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to NATO, I would like to use this opportunity and provide you with some information on present co-operation between my country and NATO. Also, this is an occasion to inform you on issues and challenges that Bosnia and Herzegovina faces and that could be incorporated into the wider, regional picture.
Firstly, let me begin by familiarizing you with tools that Bosnia and Herzegovina utilize in co¬operation with NATO and Partner countries. As you all know, Bosnia and Herzegovina has not yet become a member of NATO Program Partnership for Peace. However, both NATO and the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina recognized the need to do all possible preparations before accomplishing the formal membership. In accordance with the conclusion of the Istanbul Summit and due to progress achieved, NATO terminated its mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina and handed it over to the ЕU. In the line with its commitments to the regional security and stability, NATO has remained present and very much involved with the defense sector reforms. Established Defense Reform Commission produced two crucial documents, the Law on Defense and Law on Military Service. A vast job still needs to be done to make sure the laws are being implemented.
Co-operation is evident both in Sarajevo and Brussels. Teamwork of NATO and the Mission of Bosnia and Herzegovina to NATO has been awarding in the implementation of the Tailored Co-operation Program, another significant and practical tool for bringing Bosnia and Herzegovina closer to the PfP. I will not go into details of the activities, as we will hear some more from representatives of BiH present here.
Taking into account that Bosnia and Herzegovina is a PfP candidate country, let me underline that the Tailored Cooperation Program is of a great importance for the fact it gives an opportunity for a relevant institutions4 representatives to get in touch with their counterparts from other countries and discuss various subjects. Gained knowledge and experience of the others will assist us to avoid their mistakes and to follow good examples on our way to PfP.
SEEGROUP is seen as another valuable tool for cooperation, created under the umbrella of the South East Europe Initiative. It fosters cooperation and networking among countries of the region and allows permanent dialog among Group members and exchange of information on security and defense issues. Rotating chairmanship gives each country from the region an opportunity to have an active leading role, improve its capacities and learn to work within the NATO arena. Bosnia and Herzegovina highly appreciates the efforts of current Chair-in-Office Serbia and Montenegro that has immensely contributed to the visibility and results of the SEEGROUP. This is an occasion to inform you that Bosnia and Herzegovina is considering applying for the chairmanship in the year of 2006. I hope to receive good news from our capital and soon announce it at one of the forthcoming meetings of the Group.
Many challenges lie ahead. Downsizing of Armed Forces imposes a serious task of finding funds and establishing programs for redundant military personnel. We hope that ongoing discussions with NATO will result in the establishment of the NATO Trust Fund. Institutional and individual capacities must be developed to correspond with expected commitments, once we join PfP. In particular, we have to focus on education of people so they improve their language, communication and administrative skills in order to be able to execute their future tasks. Coordination among relevant institutions within the country has to be strengthened and rapid exchange of information, and efficient and quick decision-making should be set as standard. Public awareness on security and defense issues, as well as on advantages and obligations resulting from PfP and NATO membership, should be constantly built up. Tasks are not easy or simple, nevertheless, they are achievable.
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I will conclude by saying that Bosnia and Herzegovina needs PfP and NATO membership. It is country's strategic goal to create fully stable and secure environment for its citizens and further and sustainable economic development. None of, these can be achieved without continuing and deepening cooperation with its neighbors and Euro-Atlantic Partners.
I wish we all have fruitful discussions and exchange of views and ideas, but also to establish contacts that we will all benefit from in our future work.
Thank you very much for your attention.