Serbia in the light of present and future security challenges

TransConflict Serbia organized a panel discussion, entitled ‘Serbia in the light of present and future security challenges’, involving representatives from across the Serbian political spectrum.

By Mirjana Kosic

A panel discussion organized by TransConflict Serbia on June 17th, entitled ‘Serbia in the light of present and future security challenges’, gathered representatives of a wide spectrum of political parties, including the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party of Serbia, the G17+, the Serbian Progressive Party, the Serbian Renewal Movement and the Serbian Radical Party.

According to Mirjana Kosic, the executive director of TransConflict Serbia, the main objective of this panel discussion was to gather political opponents whose positions – though often conflicting on many issues in the area of security – must be heard and taken into account, because each of them represents a segment of the Serbian population. Ms. Kosic reminded those present of the recent EU Council of Ministers’ decision regarding the beginning of ratification of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA), and particularly drew attention to Article 10 which states that political dialogue between Serbia and the EU will contribute to the establishment of new forms of cooperation, including issues covered by the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy. This means that security-related issues will be an important part of further political negotiations between Serbia and the EU, and as such should not be viewed in isolation, or with a short-term perspective.

Vlajko Senić, an MP for the G17+ and a member of the Committee on Defence and Security, referred to the decision of the National Assembly of Serbia on the adoption of the annual plan for participation of Serbian military and police forces in the international peacekeeping operations, adding that “in this world, security has for long time been an indivisible category. No country is big enough nor powerful enough to be able to deal with problems of security on its own, but no country is too small not to be able to contribute to solving these problems”. Senić concluded that the current economic crisis has brought Serbia into a difficult position, and that “the only thing we can offer to Europe and the US is outside the borders of Serbia, which is our great potential. Therefore, our country has to take a decisive step towards greater use of our powers in the Partnership for Peace Programme, i.e. full cooperation with NATO, and ultimately the process of joining the organization”.

Marina Raguš, an MP for the Serb Radical Party (SRS) and a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, has expressed strong opposition to any possibility of Serbia greatly improving its relations with NATO, emphasising that it would be “outrageous for Serbia to join the Alliance, which committed unlawful aggression against it”. Raguš criticized the legitimacy and benevolence of actions taken by NATO and the US, commenting that the existence of permanent, low-intensity crises will always serve as a good excuse for their presence in various other countries and the freedom with which they use resources of these countries. Raguš also observed that the global constellation of political forces is changing, and that US dominance is increasingly becoming questionable, which means that the future decision of Serbia as to which path to take must be the decision of the Serbian people, who “must never forget the NATO aggression, depleted uranium and cluster bombs”.

Miloš Anđić, the international secretary of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), said that Serbia’s foreign policy must be primarily positioned on the situation in its neighbourhood, and given that Serbia is surrounded by either full members of NATO or those states that are actively aspiring to membership, Serbia’s membership in the Alliance would significantly improve its own negotiating position. Anđić noted that claims for membership in NATO are based on strong security, economic, political and military arguments, whilst “the only alternative to membership is military neutrality, which is controversial because it is the question of foreign policy”. Thus, as Anđić concluded, “it is in the national interest of Serbia to become a NATO member state”.

Speaking about the security challenges facing Serbia, Tamaš Tot, an MP for the Democratic Party (DS), particularly emphasized the illegal and unilateral declaration of Kosovo’s independence as one of the serious and long-term factors of instability, also mentioning the problem of organized crime and illicit trafficking of people, arms and drugs. In his words, “the vital interest of Serbia is the preservation of its sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of its citizens, as well as the cooperation and partnerships with international organizations and countries in the region”. Serbia does not consider any alliance as hostile, and through participation in the Partnership for Peace Programme, Serbia is contributing to its own security.

A representative of the Serb Progressive Party (SNS), Marko Đurić, said that the SNS pursues nationally responsible and open politics, stating that within the framework of international organizations Serbia should contribute to building and strenthening of its own, as well as of regional and international security. Đurić said that the SNS strongly supports the position of military neutrality, emphasizing however that “neutrality does not mean isolation, but rather an active role of Serbia in the region”, citing Austria and Switzerland as perfect cases which demonstrate that it is possible to be neutral, whilst actively contributing to broader security.

Commenting on some of the statements of his predecessors, Nikola Lazić, an MP for the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) and a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said that “the Serbian foreign policy must rather be based on the interests of our country, and not solely on the situation in the region”, explaining that certain events from the recent history, such as the fall of the Berlin wall, changes of the security architecture and the emergence of security asymmetry are factors that must also be regarded. According to Lazić, there are three-levels of political and security challenges, and they are the “stability of borders, organized crime and integration”. The DSS supports the participation of the Serbian military in multi-national operations, with an emphasis that the concept of military neutrality should not be abandoned. Lazić invited the parties in power to launch a public debate about potential membership in NATO, instead of “working on it in secrecy, which is suggested by the statement of NATO’s Secretary General, who recently welcomed gradual steps of Serbian authorities towards integration into the Alliance”.

For media coverage of the discussion (in Serbian), please click here and here.

Photos of the event are available by click here.

Srbija u svetlu trenutnih i budućih bezbednosnih izazova

Fond TransConflict Serbia je organizovao panel diskusiju pod nazivom “Srbija u svetlu trenutnih i budućih bezbednosnih izazova”, u kojoj su učestvovali predstavnici širokog spektra političkih stranaka u Srbiji.

Autor Mirjana Kosic

Panel diskusija fonda TransConflict Serbia pod nazivom “Srbija u svetlu trenutnih i budućih bezbedosnih izazova”, održana u četvrtak, 17. juna, okupila je predstavnike širokog spektra političkih partija, uključujući Demokratsku stranku, Demokratsku stranku Srbije, G17+, Srpsku naprednu stranku, Srpski pokret obnove i Srpsku radikalnu stranku.

Po rečima Mirjane Kosić, Izvršnog direktora fonda TransConflict Serbia, osnovni cilj ove panel diskusije je bilo okupljanje političkih neistomišljenika čiji se stavovi – iako suprotni po mnogim pitanjima u oblasti bezbednosti – u svakom slučaju moraju čuti i uzeti u obzir, jer svako od njih predstavlja određeni segment stanovništva Srbije. Ona je podsetila prisutne na nedavnu odluku Saveta ministara EU o početku procesa ratifikacije Sporazuma o stabilizaciji i pridruživanju, te posebno skrenula pažnju na član 10 Sporazuma u kojem se navodi da će politički dijalog između Srbije i EU doprineti uspostavljanju novih vidova saradnje uključujući i pitanja obuhvaćena Zajedničkom spoljnom i bezbednosnom politikom EU. To znači da će pitanja bezbednost predstavljati značajan deo daljih političkih pregovora između Srbije i EU, te da se kao takva ne smeju posmatrati u izolaciji, niti sa kratkoročnom perspektivom.

Vlajko Senić, Poslanik grupe G17+ i član Odbora za bezbednost i odbranu se najpre osvrnuo na odluku Narodne skupštine Srbije o usvajanju Zakona o godišnjem planu upotrebe i učešća vojnih i policijskih snaga u međunacionalnim mirovnim operacijama, napomenuvši da je “bezbednost u svetu već odavno nedeljiva kategorija.” Nijedna zemlja nije dovoljno velika ni moćna da sam rešava probleme bezbednosti, ali nijedna zemlja nije dovoljno mala da ne bi mogla doprineti rešavanju tih problema. Senić je zaključio da je trenutna ekonomska kriza dovela Srbiju u težak položaj, i da “jedino što možemo da ponudimo Evropi i SAD su naše snage van granica Srbije, što jeste naš veliki potencijal. Naša država stoga mora napraviti snažan iskorak u pravcu korišćenja naših snaga u okviru Partnerstva za mir, odnosno ka punoj saradnji sa NATO-om, a potom i samom procesu priključenja toj organizaciji.”

Marina Raguš, Poslanik grupe Srpske radikalne stranke i članica Odbora za inostrane poslove iznela je oštar stav protivljenja bilo kakvom približavanju Srbije NATO-u, naglašavajući da bi bilo “nečuveno da Srbija uđe u Alijansu koja je protivpravno izvršila agresiju nad jednom evropskom državom.” Raguš je kritikovala legitimitet i dobronamernost delovanja Alijanse i SAD, primetivši da će permanentne krize niskog intenziteta uvek služiti kao dobar izgovor za njihovo prisustvo u raznim zemljama i slobodno korišćenje resursa tih zemalja. Raguš je takođe primetila da se globalni odnos političkih sila menja, te da dominacija SAD postaje diskutabilna, što znači da odluka Srbije na koju stranu će ići, mora biti odluka srpskog naroda koji “ne sme zaboraviti NATO agresiju, osiromašeni uranijum i kasetne bombe”.

Miloš Anđić, Internacionalni sekretar Srpskog pokreta obnove, je istakao da spoljno-politička pozicija Srbije mora biti prvenstveno zasnovana na situaciji u najbližem okruženju, a obzirom da je Srbija okružena punopravnim članicama NATO-a ili zemljama koje teže ka tome, članstvo u Savezu bi značajno poboljšalo pregovaračku poziciju Srbije. Anđić je primetio da za članstvo u NATO-u postoje snažni bezbednosni, ekonomski, politički i vojni argumenti, dok je “jedina alternativa članstvu vojna neutralnost koja je sporna, jer je to spoljno-političko pitanje”. Stoga je, kako je Anđić zaključio, “nacionalni i državni interes Srbije članstvo u NATO-u.”

Govoreći o bezbednosnim izazovima sa kojima se Srbija suočava, Tamaš Tot, predstavnik iz redova Demokratske stranke, je naročito naglasio nelegalno i jednostrano proglašenje nezavisnosti Kosova, kao jedan od ozbiljnih faktora dugotrajne nestabilnosti, ali i problem organizovanog kriminala, trgovine ljudima, oružjem i narkoticima. Po njegovim rečima, “vitalni odbrambeni interesi su očuvanje celovitosti integriteta i bezbednosti građana, saradnja i partnerstvo sa međunarodnim organizacijama i zemljama u okruženju.” Srbija nijedan savez ne smatra neprijateljskim, dok učešćem u Programu partnerstvo za mir, Srbija doprinosi sopstvenoj bezbednosti.

Predstavnik Srpske napredne stranke, Marko Đurić, je istakao da SNS sprovodi nacionalno odgovornu politiku pružene ruke, te da smatra da Srbija u okviru međunarodnih organizacija treba da doprinosi izgradnji sopstvene, regionalne i međunarodne bezbednosti. Đurić je naglasio da SNS podržava vojnu neutralnost, uz napomenu da “neutralnost ne podrazumeva izolaciju, već aktivnu ulogu Srbije u regionu”, navodeći Austriju i Švajcarsku kao odlične primere da je moguće biti neutralan, i istovremeno aktivno doprinositi bezbednosti.

Kao komentar prethodni iznesenim stavovima, Nikola Lazić, Poslanik grupe Demokratska stranka Srbije i član Odbora za inostrane poslove, je izjavio da se “spoljna politika Srbije mora bazirati na interesima naše države, a ne isključivo na situaciji u okruženju,” navodeći kao obrazloženje potrebu za razmatrenjem događaja iz nedavne istorije, kao što su pad Berlinskog zida, promena bezbednosne arhitekture i nastanak bezbednosne asimetrije. Lazić smatra da postoje 3 nivoa političko-bezbednosnih izazova, a to su “stabilnost granica, organizovani kriminal i bezbednosne integracije.” DSS podržava učešće srpskih vojnika u međunacionalnim operacijama, uz napomenu da se ne treba odustati od koncepta vojne neutralnosti. Lazić je pozvao vladajuće stranke da pokrenu javnu debati o potencijalnom članstvu u NATO-u, umesto da se na tome “radi u tajnosti, na šta upućuje izjava Generalnog sekretara NATO-a kojom pozdravlja postepene korake srpskih vlasti ka integraciji u Savez”.

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