Simulating NATO in Serbia

The inaugural Model NATO Serbia took place in Belgrade from 20th-22nd May, providing university students from throughout Serbia with an opportunity to directly experience NATO’s consensus-based decision-making structure.

Responding to a variety of fictional emergency crisis situations – including a Libya-esque humanitarian emergency, terrorist attack on a NATO partner country, a destructive earthquake in a NATO member state and the threat of secession in Bosnia and Herzegovina – the participants, who represented each of NATO’s 28 member states, simulated the workings of a Ministerial Summit; ultimately reaching consensus on NATO’s course of action through dialogue and compromise.

The proceedings were opened on May 20th by Mr. Earl Lee Litzenberger, deputy chief of mission of the American Embassy in Belgrade, and Mr. Jiří Juřík, the second secretary at the Czech Embassy. In his introductory remarks, Mr. Litzenberger greeted the participants and commended their interest in international affairs and security-related issues, emphasising that their participation in the Model NATO exercise will be an invaluable contribution to their future professional and personal development. Students were given the opportunity to ask questions and discuss a number of issues pertaining to NATO and U.S. foreign policy, addressing topics such as the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

On behalf of the Czech Embassy and the Czech Ambassador, H.E. Hana Hubačkova, Mr. Juřík congratuled the students on their participation in the Model NATO Serbia, particularly bearing in mind the contentiousness and sensitivity of NATO-related issues in Serbia. At the same time, he reminded the students that – as future political leaders and diplomats – they will have a very significant role to play in the future of their country, and that they should not lose sight of the interests and importance of their own country.

During the simulation the participants were faced with four simulated crisis situations. In the first, following a terrorist attack by Islamic militants on the fictional state of Srjedina (a former member of the Soviet Union and a current NATO partner country), the delegates proposed to dispatch a Security-Technical Mission for Srjednia (STMS), with a mandate to assist and support the local security forces in combating terrorism; to work with Srjednia’s authorities to create a detailed strategy for fight against terrorism; to support intelligence gathering on terrorist cells operating in Srejednia and, through the NATO-Russia Council, to engage Russian support to the STMS and other international community missions in Srjednia.

To read the complete communique from the first scenario, please click here

The delegates then worked to avert a humanitarian disaster arising from a devasting earthquake in Turkey that killed around 2,500 and left over 400,000 made homeless. The participants concurred that NATO that the Euro Atlantic Disaster Response Coordinating Center manages and coordinates all activities aimed at assisting affected areas in Turkey; that NATO Response Force (NRF) troops be deployed to provide technical support and humanitarian relief; that the Civil Emergency Planning Committee form a commission of experts to deal with the ecological elements of the disastor; that NATO cooperate with relevant international humanitarian organizations and member states assist Turkey on a bilateral basis in accordance with their capacities. In addition, aware of the slow progress of the ISAF mission in Afghanistan and the possibility of reducing the number of troops due to the natural disaster in Turkey, NATO member states agreed to consider abandoning the practice of using national caveats on the units stationed in Afghanistan.

To read the complete communique from the second scenario, please click here

The proceedings were interrupted by an emerging Libya-esque crisis in the fictional state of Rebu. After considering a variety of courses of action, the delegates eventually reached a consensus on range of actions motivated by a “firm commitment to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under threat of attack”. The delegates proposed that NATO would act in accordance with the UN Security Council, particularly in establishing a no-fly zone over Rebu, whilst not ruling out the possibility of a military intervention should the crisis worsen. In addition, an arms embargo will be imposed and support to surveillance operations given, without NATO ships entering Rebu’s territorial waters. The members of the Alliance are also ready to see the Republic of Rebu as a partner country in the Mediterranean Dialogue program, in order to broaden mutual cooperation.

To read the complete communique from the third scenario, please click here

In the final session, the delegates engaged in a lively debate about how NATO would contend with an emerging situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the Republika Srpska is making moves to secede. The delegates adopted a communique upholding the terms of the Dayton Peace Agreement, calling for co-operation with the EU, the UN and the OSCE in responding to the crisis, and emphasizing that dialogue is necessary to find a mutually-acceptable solution.

To read the complete communique from the fourth scenario, please click here

The final communiqué reflected the culmination of two-days of intensive debate and dialogue, leading to the establishment of consensus positions on a range of emergency crisis situations. The delegates reiterated NATO’s determination to strengthen its ability to confront the existing and emerging security threats of the twenty-first century, whilst recognising NATO’s role as the essential forum for security consultations between Europe and North America.

To read the final communique from the Belgrade Summit, please click here

TransConflict’s Serbia’s executive director, Mirjana Kosic, emphasized how, “the simulation provides the opportunity for university students with ambitions in international affairs to gain practical insights into the art of diplomacy negotiating. NATO’s consensus-based decision-making structure means that no matter which delegation they were representing, each participant had an equal say in the ultimate positions taken”.

Model NATO Serbia was organized by TransConflict Serbia, with the support of NATO’s Public Diplomacy Department (PDD), the US Embassy in Belgrade and the Embassy of the Czech Republic. The simulation is part of TransConflict Serbia’s Model Security initiative, which provides university students with the opportunity to simulate the internal workings and decision-making processes of major security actors, including NATO, the OSCE, the EU and the UN.

For further information about Model Security – including the scenarios used during the Model NATO Serbia 2011 – please contact Mirjana Kosic.