Croatia, Serbia expand defence co-operation

01/04/2014

Collaboration between the two countries is crucial for regional stability and EU integration.

By Ivana Jovanovic for Southeast European Times in Belgrade -- 01/04/14

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Sharing the experience of transforming and modernising Croatia's armed forces is important for Serbia and the region. [AFP]

Defence co-operation between Serbia and Croatia is expanding and is expected to benefit Serbia's EU integration as well as the region's security and stability.

As part of the expanded co-operation, Serbia Defence Minister Nebojsa Rodic turned over the technical documentation for the military property located in Croatia that formerly belonged to the Yugoslavia army and the Federal Defence Secretariat.

"I appreciate Serbia's delivery of the aerial photogrammetric material dating from 1968, that is valuable for the completion of the on-going real estate legalisation process in Croatia," Croatia Defence Minister Ante Kotromanović said after meeting with Rodic in Pula, Croatia.

Kotromanović and Rodic agreed on the continuation of the officer exchange programme and discussed fostering co-operation in the areas of military medicine and education.

"Considering the long-term security of the region, full integration of Serbia and of the rest of the region into the EU, Croatia is ready to provide assistance," Kotromanović said.

Serbia is especially interested in Croatia's experiences concerning the improvement of administrative capacities within the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy, Rodic said.

Croatia, as a NATO and EU member, has an opportunity to support, encourage and represent all the countries of the region in their European integration policies, said Vlatko Cvrtila, dean at the Zagreb-based University of Applied Sciences.

"Co-operation in the defence sector is very important because of experience sharing on the transformation and modernisation of armed forces and the standards of implementation and development of new military culture based on common actions," Cvrtila told SETimes.

He said this co-operation is important for European security as well.

"This co-operation creates the stability of post-conflict ground, which the EU has invested much effort into. Also, with common actions it is easier and faster to create new capabilities which can be used as part of EU capabilities," Cvrtila added.

Nikola Petrovic, director of the International and Security Affairs Centre, a think-tank based in Belgrade, agreed that the co-operation would affect the whole region and Serbia's EU bid.

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"Resolving existing issues and putting defence co-operation with Croatia on a higher level has huge meaning for Serbia's EU path," he told SETimes.

Petrovic said positive relations between Croatia and Serbia represent a key component of regional stability.

"The two countries have big number of inherited, unresolved issues and problems, for which peaceful solutions are necessary. And, there is also the fact that since the Croatian-Serbian border has become an EU and NATO border, co-operation in the defence and security sector has an influence on security for the whole European ground, which is reflected in the prevention and fight against all kinds of illegal trade," Petrovic said.

How else can Serbia and Croatia benefit from military co-operation? Add your opinion to the comments.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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