Through bilateral, regional and NATO partnerships, Balkan armies support regional safety.
By Ivana Jovanovic and Miki Trajkovski for Southeast European Times in Belgrade and Skopje -- 27/08/14
NATO General Secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen (left) speaks alongside Macedonia Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski during a news conference after an official meeting in Skopje on May 22nd. [AFP]
With the aim to secure safety and stability for the region, armies in the Balkans are working together to improve military education through bilateral agreements on military co-operation.
An important segment of the effort is education in accordance with international standards as well as through co-operation with NATO's Defence Education Enhancement Programme (DEEP).
Through this programme, the Alliance advises partners on how to build, develop and reform educational institutions in the security, defence and military domains.
In a written statement to SETimes, a NATO spokesman said that DEEP's focus is on faculty and curriculum development.
"What to teach, how to teach, leadership, critical thinking -- these are the areas most addressed in DEEP," said the spokesman, who would not allow his name to be used.
The programme contributes to co-operation among armies as well.
"NATO manages an international professional network, which brings together defence and military educators from Allied and partner countries to exchange experiences in teaching methodologies and developing curricula and help those who request it. DEEP programmes are currently run in 13 countries," the spokesman said.
Serbia began a programme through DEEP earlier this year, and Croatia's programme is to begin next month.
The NATO spokesman added that the training has led to important initiatives that strengthen the intellectual interoperability between faculty and confidence among partner and Allied countries.
"For example, together with partner countries including from the Balkans, we have developed generic reference curricula on defence institution building, on professional military education for officers and on professional military education for non-commissioned officers. This provides all with a common basis to be cross-referenced with national curricula. We have also created a Defence Educators' Programme, which provides an opportunity for faculty members to exchange experiences on best practices on modern teaching," the spokesman told SETimes.
According to Macedonian Ministry of Defence, Macedonia introduced NATO training through education and exercises that were provided with membership in the NATO Partnership For Peace effort.
"Since 1996, Macedonia has concluded a special programme with NATO, the so-called Individual Partnership program that in 2012 changed its name to the Individual Programme for Partnership and Co-operation. Its main goal is for each partner nation to reach the necessary skills and facilities level of interoperability through the appropriate choice of and participation of activities in NATO," the ministry told SETimes in written statement.
Rade Rajkovchevski, a professor at the Faculty of Security in Skopje, agreed.
"A partnership for peace is a pan-NATO organisational model in which partners have the opportunity to co-operate closely with NATO, to exchange experiences, to get training and receive technical assistance," Rajkovchevski told SETimes.
Major Jovan Krivokapic, spokesperson at the Serbian Ministry of Defence, underlined the importance of student exchange for the development of international and regional military co-operation.
He said that the Belgrade University of Defence has signed numerous agreements with military educational institutions in southeastern Europe. Student exchange is common in military education and training, he said.
"Attendees of high security and defence studies from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Croatia and Slovenia are coming to study at the School of National Defence within the Military Academy. Students and participants from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Montenegro are studying and improving at the Faculty of Medicine-Military Medical Academy (VMA). One of our officers was learning in Croatia last year and another one will do so this year. Bulgaria has offered education for our officers and we have done the same. Co-operation with Albania, Greece, Macedonia and Turkey has not been established yet but we are working on it," Krivokapic told SETimes.
The Military Academy in Skopje educates cadets from Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, according to the Macedonian Defence Ministry.
Metodi Hadzi Janev, a professor at the Military Academy in Skopje, said that military education is imperative because it dictates the success of the use of armed forces in contemporary challenges.
"Designing education as it is done through special training of NATO and Partnership for Peace as the framework is having regional stability. Building capacities through mutual co-operation in education is only one of several elements that facilitate the process of maintaining regional peace according to the concept of collective security," Hadzi Janev told SETimes.
How does NATO-led training improve regional security? Add your thoughts in the comment area below.