Military co-operation strengthens confidence among the countries, which not long ago were involved in wars and conflicts, analysts say.
By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 03/09/12
KSF needs to demonstrate it has developed the necessary professional capacities and is ready to serve as a constructive force in the region and beyond, one analyst said. [Laura Hasani/SETimes]
Macedonia supports Kosovo's participation in regional initiatives and forums on defense issues, Macedonian Minister of Defense Fatmir Besimi, said, adding that military co-operation between the two countries is flourishing and has reached "important initial successes."
"Bilateral co-operation between the Republic of Macedonia and Kosovo has an important impact on the regional security, economic cooperation and the overall development of the two countries," Besimi told SETimes.
Andreja Bogdanovski, an analyst from Skopje-based Analytica, said enhancing regional military co-operation is a necessary step to towards a regional response to common threats, but it also signals an increase of trust between countries.
"Kosovo, having its security forces built from scratch, requires additional support from the countries from the region in this regard. This is where countries such as Macedonia, Croatia or Albania can offer their experiences in contribution to peace support operations as well as national defense," Bogdanovski told SETimes.
Macedonia and Kosovo signed their first co-operation plan earlier this year, and have started to exchange experience and lessons learned in building national institutions of defense.
"Kosovo Security Force (KSF) just finalised their first exercise in the military polygon of Krivolak [Macedonia], with the participation of 120 soldiers, with logistic support from the army of the Republic of Macedonia. We expect Kosovo Security Force to use the polygon in Krivolak for their military exercises in the future as well," Besimi told SETimes.
Agim Ceku, minister of the KSF, visited his contingent in Krivolak on Thursday (August 30th). "The aim of this exercise is to exercise, but also apply in practice all the procedures of sending forces abroad," Ceku said, adding that another goal is to strengthen the relations between KSF and Macedonian ministry of defense.
Mentor Vrajolli, senior researcher in the Kosovo Centre for Security Studies, says KSF needs to demonstrate it has developed the necessary professional capacities and is ready to serve as a constructive force in the region and beyond.
"[In addition to] the … neutralisation of the concerns that KSF can represent a threat for the region, such military exercises also strengthen the inter-state relations with the states participating in these exercises," Vrajolli told SETimes.
Besimi said good relations with the neighbours in the region, mutual trust and understanding and the engagement to integrate in NATO and the EU, are essential for the long-term security and stability in the region.
Countries in the region have been included in several regional forums, such as the Adriatic Charter, the Southeastern Europe Defense Ministry, the Centre for Security Co-operation in Croatia and the Regional Council for Co-operation.
Marko Savkovic, a researcher for Belgrade Centre for Security Policy, said countries in the region have long been "importers of security," and are now trying to present themselves as capable of "exporting" security to peace operations.
"More developed countries, which often support events, or an entire mechanism of co-operation, can transfer their knowledge and insight to practitioners coming from the Western Balkans," Savkovic told SETimes.
NATO can also assist in the process. Each country, depending on where it stands regarding integration to NATO, has some sort of structured co-operation within the Alliance.
"NATO provides some financial, but more importantly expert assistance and encourages exchange of experiences," Savkovic said.
Bogdanovski highlighted the Nordic example, where the pooling and sharing of resources is vastly utilised.
"One step into this direction is the initiative for developing Balkan air defense capabilities, which can borrow a lot from Baltic's air policing mission. By doing so the defense capabilities in the region would become interconnected and mutual expectancy can become more viable," Bogdanovski told SETimes.