Šutanovac, NATO sign agreement

BRUSSELS -- Defense Minister Dragan Šutanovac has signed an agreement on exchange of information with NATO in Brussels today.

Dragan Šutanovac (Tanjug, archive)
Dragan Šutanovac (Tanjug, archive)

The signing of the document, as earlier believed, meets one of the conditions for Serbia’s full membership of the Partnership for Peace program.

The agreement will put at Serbia’s disposal all the potentials and capacities within the program’s framework.

The agreement governs the exchange of confidential information between Serbia and NATO. The document, signed by Šutanovac and NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, comes into immediate effect and states that the Republic of Serbia is a cooperative partner state.

“The agreement has been signed on the basis of the consensus that was previously reached to hold consultations on political and security issues, and to extend and intensify political and military cooperation throughout Europe. Successful cooperation in these areas implies exchange of sensitive and confidential information,“ the agreement states.

The agreement does not oblige the signatories to exchange information, but establishes forms of protection in cases where exchange of information takes place.

“This agreement should allow us to cooperate via the Partnership for Peace, not only on a political, but operational level too, as stated in the document,” said the defense minister.

“It’s important to point out that we’ve had a meeting with all the NATO member-state representatives who are present here, and that it is a great pleasure, within the Partnership for Peace and NATO framework, that we have signed this agreement and that our future cooperation, both at state and military level, will be significantly enhanced,” Šutanovac said.

The previous government, led by Vojislav Koštunica, opposed signing this agreement. Military analyst Saša Radić believes that the agreement is more of a technical nature and that it does not jeopardize Serbia’s military neutrality.

Chief-of-Staff Lt. Gen. Zdravko Ponoš said that this was a technical agreement. “The signing of the so-called Security Agreement that Minister Šutanovac will sign is actually just the materialization of the guidelines within the presentation document that Serbia submitted to Brussels last year,” said Ponoš.

“The Security Agreement is a technical agreement that allows the implementation of the guidelines from the presentation document where it states that we will be a fully-fledged and active member of the Partnership for Peace program. No more, no less than that,” he explained.

Over 90 states and international organizations have thus far signed the agreement governing the protection and distribution of confidential information.