Stoltenberg, Vučić: Stability in the Western Balkans requires stronger economic cooperation

Photo: Tanjug / Dragan Kujundžić

BELGRADE – NATO has started to adapt to the hybrid threats, but it cannot resolve the existing issues between nations in the region – because it has to be done by the peoples themselves, were the main messages of the special Belgrade Security Forum pre–event, organized as a  a conversation between Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg and President of the Republic of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić.

Panel titled “Leadership for a Secure Future”, moderated by the President of Belgrade Fund for Political Excelence Sonja Licht, has tried to offered answers on how NATO-Serbia relations will develop, but also touched upon regional relations and the ongoing NATO-Serbia civil emergency exercise “Srbija 2018”.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has begun his adress by underlining the importance of today’s exercise, stating that it is important to bring countries together and bring civilians and militaries together in working on natural disaster relief.

He has stressed that it is important to note that the future is hard to predict, and that NATO has accommodated to that reality.

In his words, in the current world it is more difficult to separate peace from war, or stability from conflict, and that one has to be ready for unforeseen and unpredictable events.

“NATO is starting to focus more and more on global uncertainty – hybrid threats and hybrid warfare… Very few people could predict some of the most important global events, such as Arab Spring, Russian annexation of Crimea or the emergence of the Islamic state. Be prepared for unforeseen, that is the only way to prepare for the future”, Stoltenberg said.

He has also added that NATO has raised its level of combat readiness, as well as readiness of intelligence services and all of the high-tech aspects of security, as well as that balance between democratic control of armed forces and efficient combat against hybrid threats is “absolutely possible”.

Stoltenberg has also underlined that the Western Balkans has come a long way through stronger economic growth, implementation of important reforms and the balancing of the budget, and has named regional trade, economic cooperation and connectivity as prerequisites for eradicating mistrust and nationalistic rhetoric in the region.

Using science and techonology for rescue and relief is what Serbia needs and cooperation through NATO programs can help it achieve goals of saving more lives, said President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić.

Vučić has also stated that avoidance of regional clashes is prerequisite for economic progress, but that he sees “a lot of challenges in the future”.

“I wish I was wrong, but I can only guarantee that we will do our best (on Serbian side)… We are entering into a new era of running passions and a deteriorating situation.”

“Better relationships with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and authorities in Pristina are some of the ways Serbia is contributing to the stability of the Western Balkans”, Vučić said.

Panel was a special pre-event of the 8th Belgrade Security Forum, which will be held from 17 to 19 October under the title “Finding Answers Together to the New Normal”.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg inaugurated the civil emergency exercise “Srbija 2018” on Monday (8 October) together with the President of the Republic of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić. ‎This is the biggest exercise organised by NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre, and the first to be hosted by Serbia. It includes around 2,000 personnel from almost 40 countries.