Photo: Serbian Armed Forces

BELGRADE – The adoption of the new Individual partnership action plan (IPAP) is expected in January, the draft of the agreement has been submitted to NATO officials and their answers is the only thing left, stated head of delegation to NATO’s Parliamentary and Serbian MP Dragan Šormaz for the portal European Western Balkans.

He reminded that Serbia chooses what is most useful to it within that highest mechanism of NATO’s cooperation with partner countries that do not have aspirations for membership in the Alliance.

“Modernizing of Serbian Armed Forces is going quite well, it is completely in accordance with NATO standards, iteroperable in all segments, and when you talk with officers from member states, they emphasise that Serbian soldiers are of highest quality. It is not about “loosing the level”, we have to maintain it if we want to avoid what happened in the 1990s”, said Šormaz.

The most important area for further strengthening of cooperation between Serbia and NATO, according to Šormaz, is education and exchange of knowledge, in which Serbia is already participating. The most important aspect is reacting in the crisis situations, such as fires, floods and similar catastrophes.

“The area in which Serbian Army most certainly is not on the level of modern Western countries are hybrid and cyber threats, which will only grow in the coming period. I think we will continue working on modernisation in that area – not only by conducting practices, but also adopting new knowledge, technologies, their implementation, because we objectively have problems in that area. It is impossible to keep young people and IT experts who posses knowledge and who have graduated from quality schools in the system of defence, because the salary is too low. The problem arises when he or she can earn much more that in defence system at home or abroad. This is something for which we certainly need cooperation with NATO and where only they can help us”, said Šormaz.

Assistant of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Serbia in charge of security issues Branimir Filipović stated earlier for EWB that “Serbia is very satisfied with the implementation of IPAP until now, given the fact that the majority of planned goals and activities has been successfully realised”.

He also stated that this assessment is shared by NATO structures and members of the Alliance, which also is proven NATO’s report on implementation of IPAP in which significant progress in the development of partnership has been recognized. Filipović also announced that the new IPAP will in essence rely on the previous document, that is it will keep its existing four main chapters and that the main priorities of the partnership “remain unchanged”.

Researcher at the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy Katarina Đokić on the other hand states that the process of planning of IPAP is closed for the public and that is hard to estimate what will find its place in the final document, but that the announcements of the officials do not reveal crucial changes.

“Former IPAP did not define deadlines for the majority of measures it contained, it rather functions as a list of ongoing activities which are easy to “transfer” into the new cycle. When it comes to the effects up until now, more concretely in the area of defence, Serbia has used its cooperation with NATO within Partnership for Peace well, for building interoperability with other partners and NATO members through training and practices.

She states that some plans have not been fulfilled, for example, certification of the base South as a center for NATO training and that four of seven measures planned in the areas of defence industry have not been realised.

“The main reason has been unrealistic planning, so that, instead of activities which cannot be realised due to political circumstances (for example, research into possibilities for joint auctions with NATO), the measures that answer to concrete needs of the system of defence and light industry should have been definde.

She emphasised that the main benefits of conducting IPAP for Serbia can be very practical, while for NATO that agreement with Serbia represents first and foremost important political commitment to cooperation and avoiding conflicts.

“From a regional point of view, IPAP promotes regional cooperation in various fields (for example, arms control, terrorism prevention), for which individual member states of NATO are very interested, because they also influence their security”, concluded Đokić.