Partnership for Peace
The Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme is the most important NATO partnership initiative, formally launched in 1994, for the purpose of developing stability and security in Europe and worldwide, by building trust and cooperation between NATO and other countries in the Euro-Atlantic area. Protection and advancement of fundamental freedoms and human rights, democratic development and preservation of freedom, justice and peace are common values on which the Partnership for Peace is built, and as such are compatible with the values of other international and regional organisations ― the United Nations (UN), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Council of Europe, the European Union (EU), and other organisations.
The Partnership for Peace is a programme of bilateral cooperation between NATO and individual countries, based on the principles of voluntariness, flexibility and transparency. The Programme for each participating state is individual and country specific. Participating States in the Partnership for Peace programme independently determine the level, content and timetable of the partnership cooperation, in accordance with their sovereign rights, national interests, needs and capabilities. Although the primary focus of the Partnership for Peace is on the development of cooperation in the field of defence, its political aspect is very important, as a key factor in the European security architecture. The Partnership for Peace currently comprises 20 partner countries from the Euro-Atlantic areа.
By acceding to the Partnership for Peace, countries confirm that they are committed to fulfilling consistently their obligations arising from the UN Charter and the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and, in particular, that they will refrain from any threats of using force against the territorial integrity or the political independence of any country, that they will respect the existing borders, and resolve any disputes by peaceful means. They also confirm their commitment to the Helsinki Final Act and all other OSCE documents, as well as to meeting their obligations in the field of disarmament and arms control.
Accession to the Partnership for Peace requires approval by NATO which assesses the preparedness of a candidate country based on its own standards and criteria, and subsequently sends an invitation to the country which had expressed an interest to join the programme. Participation in the Partnership for Peace and the EU membership are not contingent on each other, but they are compatible, as NATO and the EU have similar value systems, standards and procedures.
The political framework for NATO’s cooperation with partner countries is the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), a political and security forum which brings together all NATO Member States and Participating States in the Partnership for Peace. The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council is a mechanism for political coordination and monitoring of all activities in the Partnership for Peace, and a forum for discussing issues of importance to partnership and cooperation.
Serbia in the Partnership for Peace
Relations between the Republic of Serbia and NATO are unique in many aspects, as a result and reflection of historical circumstances and events of the recent past. Nevertheless, both sides have expressed an understanding that an improvement of their partnership and cooperation, in particular through Serbia's participation in the Partnership for Peace, contributes to the stability and reinforcement of trust in the Balkans and the wider Euro-Atlantic area. In this regard, participation in the Partnership for Peace is the most appropriate framework for the Republic of Serbia to develop relations and cooperation with NATO, its Member States and other Participating States in Partnership for Peace, particularly in view of the nature of this programme, its flexibility and possibilities for it to be tailored to each Participating State.
Relations between the Republic of Serbia and NATO in the period immediately prior to the accession to Partnership for Peace developed as an upward trend, demonstrated through political dialogue.
Simultaneously with improving its relations with NATO political and military structures, the Republic of Serbia has developed a diverse bilateral cooperation with NATO Member States and Partnership for Peace Participating States in the field of political security and defence.
At the NATO Summit in Riga on 29 November 2006, Serbia was invited, together with Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, to join the Partnership for Peace. The Republic of Serbia formally became a Participating State in Partnership for Peace on 14 December of the same year, when the then President of the Republic of Serbia, Boris Tadić, signed the Framework Document, which contained the fundamental principles of the Partnership for Peace. Thus, the Republic of Serbia officially became a Participating State in the Partnership for Peace gaining the right to participate in the activities of the EAPC and the NATO committees and working bodies, in a format available to partner countries.
After signing the Framework Document, the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted the Presentation Document, which was subsequently delivered to the NATO Headquarters by the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vuk Jeremić. This document defined the areas of cooperation with NATO, activities that Serbia intended to undertake in order to fulfil the partnership objectives, and its military and other capacities which were made available for the Partnership for Peace programme. The Presentation Document emphasised the Republic of Serbia's intent to actively participate in the Partnership for Peace programme, and its readiness to participate in almost all of the established programme mechanisms, including the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP), as a higher form of cooperation.
On 1 October 2008, the Republic of Serbia and NATO concluded the Security Agreement, which was ratified by the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia on 5 July 2011. This Agreement guarantees the minimum necessary protection standards of mutually exchanged data. This enables an exchange of confidential information with NATO, paving the way for the Republic of Serbia to play a more active role in the Partnership for Peace.
In late October 2008, the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted a decision to establish the Mission of the Republic of Serbia to NATO, which was an important step for strengthening the diplomatic and military defence presence in the NATO Headquarters and for improving the dialogue and developing cooperation within the framework of the Partnership for Peace. The Mission of the Republic of Serbia to NATO was officially opened in December 2009.
The First Individual Partnership Programme (IPP) between the Republic of Serbia and NATO for 2009−2010 was adopted in late 2008, actualising the Republic of Serbia's participation in the Partnership for Peace, in accordance with the objectives and areas of cooperation laid down in the Presentation Document. The Second IPP covered the period 2010−2011, whereas the Third IPP covered the following period 2011−2012.
In February 2011, the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted the Conclusion on launching the procedure for drafting the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) between Serbia and NATO, as a more intense form of cooperation within the framework of the Partnership for Peace. On 14 July 2011, the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted the Presentation Document, which was presented at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels on 25 November 2011.
IPAP is the highest mechanism for NATO's cooperation with partner countries that have no aspirations for NATO membership. It entails regular cycles of dialogue with NATO on political and security matters, military and defence matters, and public diplomacy and scientific cooperation matters, as well as planning in emergency situations.
The procedure of adopting the first cycle of IPAP between Serbia and NATO for 2015-2016 was completed on 15 January 2015. The adoption of IPAP was a major step forward in the relations between the Republic of Serbia and NATO, paving the way for a regular, structured dialogue, including a political dialogue.
After the first IPAP cycle was successfully implemented, coordination of the second IPAP cycle commenced in 2017.
The procedure of adopting the second cycle of IPAP between Serbia and NATO for 2019−2021 was completed on 7 November 2019. The adoption of this new IPAP was another confirmation of the upward trend in the Republic of Serbia’s partnership and cooperation with NATO, creating conditions to continue a regular, structured dialogue on all issues of mutual interest, and facilitating the coordination of the Republic of Serbia’s bilateral cooperation with NATO members and partners.
Like the first IPAP cycle, the new document was designed in line with the principles of the Partnership for Peace: voluntariness, flexibility and transparency, and its basis was a clearly defined policy of Serbia's
on military neutrality.
Importance of Serbia’s participation in the Partnership for Peace
Participation in the Partnership for Peace programme contributes to a substantial reinforcement of the international position and reputation of the Republic of Serbia. It is in line with the defined foreign-policy priorities of the Republic of Serbia, and it accelerates the progress of the country’s European integration process.
The participation also has a positive impact on the process of security and defence system sector reform, particularly in terms of facilitating a more efficient adjustment to the generally accepted principles of democratic control of armed forces, and reinforcing the country's preparedness to respond to contemporary security challenges and threats. The main mechanisms of partnership and cooperation in terms of military cooperation and support to the defence system reform are the Planning and Review Process (PARP), the Operational Capabilities Concept (OCC), the Building Integrity Programme (BI), and the Defence Education Enhancement Programme (DEEP).
An important aspect of the practical cooperation between the Republic of Serbia and NATO concerns a destruction of surplus obsolete ammunition and ordnance which pose a threat to the safety of Serbia’s citizens and the environment. In this regard, on 12 October 2016, NATO and the Republic of Serbia initiated a project through the NATO Trust Fund “Serbia IV“, aimed at destroying surplus obsolete ammunition and ordnance, as a part of the technical and technological modernisation of the Kragujevac Technical Overhaul Institute. The value of this project, which involves 11 NATO member and partner countries, is 4.15 million euros, and of this amount, 90% of the planned funds (or 3.73 million euros) have already been collected.
In addition, within the framework of the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) programme, a number of projects have been implemented, which involved young Serbian scientists. These projects, funded and supported by NATO, are useful and of practical significance to the citizens, the local communities and public institutions.
An important aspect of the Republic of Serbia's relations with NATO is cooperation in the field of civil protection and emergency situations, which helps with gaining best experiences and advancing the structure and increasing the capacities for response in times of natural disasters and other emergencies. The Republic of Serbia was the host of the international consequence management field exercise “SERBIA 2018”, held from 8 to 11 October 2018 in and around Mladenovac, which was jointly organised by the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC) and the Emergency Management Division of the Ministry of Interior of Serbia. This exercise, with approximately 2,000 participants from 40 NATO member and partner countries, was officially opened by the President of Republic of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, and the NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg.
Another important aspect of the Republic of Serbia’s relations with NATO is the cooperation between the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. Although, in institutional terms, the Parliamentary Assembly is not a part of the NATO structure, this form of parliamentary cooperation contributes to a better mutual understanding and the reinforcement of cooperation between NATO member and partner countries. Since 2007, the delegation of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia has been participating as an associate member in the activities of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
The situation in Kosovo and Metohija is a particularly important segment of the Republic of Serbia’s cooperation with NATO. Serbia and NATO have obligations under the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and the Military Technical Agreement. International security presence in Kosovo and Metohija, as stipulated by the UN Security Council Resolution 1244, has been entrusted to the international security forces (KFOR) which have been stationed in the Province of Kosovo and Metohija since 12 June 1999.
The Republic of Serbia respects and supports KFOR’s mandate, which is based on the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and aimed at ensuring a safe and secure environment for all inhabitants of Kosovo and Metohija. Cooperation in the field between the Serbian Armed Forces and KFOR is very successful, and has been carried out through information sharing, regular meetings, synchronised patrols along the Administrative Line, and the activities of the 1999 Military Technical Agreement Joint Implementation Commission.
It is of utmost importance that the International Security Force (KFOR) ― acting in a status-neutral and unbiased manner, and with unreduced presence, fully fulfils its mandate in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 1244, as the only legal military formation in the Province, guarantor of the security and survival of the Serbian population in Kosovo and Metohija and the protection of their property and their religious and cultural heritage, as well as the important guarantor of the implementation of the Brussels Agreement.
Political dialogue between Serbia and NATO
Through the adoption of the IPAP, a framework was established for deepening the cooperation between the Republic of Serbia and NATO, thus improving and raising the level of the political dialogue.
On 18 March 2015, the then First Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia, Ivica Dačić, and the then Minister of Defence, Branislav Gašić, visited the NATO Headquarters in Brussels and participated in a meeting of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) and the Republic of Serbia, where they spoke with the Secretary-General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, and with permanent representatives of NATO Member States. Of particular importance to the further improvement of relations between the Republic of Serbia and NATO was the visit of Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to Belgrade on 19–20 November 2015. During the visit, the Secretary-General met with the then Prime Minister of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, and with other senior officials. On this occasion, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg expressed regret over innocent casualties of the 1999 NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and expressed condolences to their families.
A trend of further reinforcement of the political dialogue at the highest level continued with a visit of the then Prime Minister of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, to the NATO Headquarters, on 23 November 2016. In bilateral talks with Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, further prospects for deepening the partnership and the cooperation between NATO and the Republic of Serbia were discussed, as well as other topics of mutual interest. The then Prime Minister of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, also participated in a meeting of the North Atlantic Council, exchanging opinions with permanent representative of Member States on bilateral relations between the Republic of Serbia and NATO as well as other political and security topics of importance for the region of the Western Balkans.
In 2007, there were multiple meetings between representatives of the Republic of Serbia and NATO. On 23 June, the then Deputy Secretary General of NATO, Rose Gottemoeller, attended a ceremonial reception in Belgrade on the occasion of the inauguration of Aleksandar Vučić as the President of the Republic of Serbia, and met separately with President Vučić and with Prime Minister Ana Brnabić. On 22 September, the then Minister of Defence, Aleksandar Vulin, visited the NATO Headquarters in Brussels, where he met with the then Deputy Secretary General of NATO, Rose Gottemoeller. A number of visits at the high or highest level continued on 14 November 2017, when Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić visited the NATO Headquarters in Brussels and met with the Secretary-General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, and with permanent representatives of NATO Member States.
Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg was in an official visit to Serbia from 6 to 8 October 2018. On that occasion, President Aleksandar Vučić and Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg jointly opened the international field exercise in emergency management “SERBIA 2018”.