"NATO membership would improve quality of life"

Serbia's cooperation with NATO over the past ten years did much for the area of ​​security sector reforms, as well as in increasing military interoperability.

Izvor: Tanjug

Monday, 15.12.2014.


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"NATO membership would improve quality of life"

According to U.S. embassy in Belgrade political counselor Cherrie Daniels, Serbia's official orientation towards the European Union and its path towards European integration have great significance when it comes to security sector reforms, and development of military interoperability between Serbia and its partners in the EU.

"As Serbia progress towards the EU, it will be very important to complete the process of the reform of the security sector and to establish sustainable and transparent institutions," said Daniels, adding that Serbia made much progress over the past ten years.

She said Serbia's priority was to implement the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP), which would "raise to a higher level Serbia's relations with NATO."

"IPAP will identify ways in which NATO can help Serbia, and it will expand relations from the military to the political level, at the same time creating a framework for cooperation in other fields. This is an important aspect for Serbia because it will provide an opportunity for sustainable reform of the security sector, which is crucial in the process of Serbia's EU accession," said Daniels.

Increasing military interoperability of the Serbian Army is another benefit of EU integrations, explained Daniels, underlining that joint training of Serbian soldiers with EU partners and the harmonization of standards in the defense sector will allow the country to strengthen its national security, be ready to react in emergency situations, and effectively participate in peacekeeping missions and multinational operations.

Noting that Serbia is the only country in the region that does not want to become a member of NATO, executive director of the Atlantic Council of Serbia Milovan Milosevic said he believed that much more than military cooperation is gained through membership.

"NATO is not only a military force, it is a set of values ​​that those countries stand for, like democracy or human rights protection. Also, NATO member states receive more foreign direct investments. In Lithuania, foreign direct investments increased by 167 percent in the first year after it became a member of NATO, while those in Bulgaria increased by 97 percent, "said Milosevic.

Noting that polls show that only 18 percent of Serbian citizens are in favor of the country joining the western military alliance, Milosevic said he wishes that number to increase in the coming years, "since Serbia will prosper as a state by joining."

"We focus too much on the time which passed 15 years ago" he said, in an apparent reference to the war NATO launched against Serbia in 1999, and added: "We need to look forward, so we all progress together."

Director of the Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies Jelena Milic agreed with other participants who said that "Serbia's membership" in NATO would contribute to strengthening of democratic institutions in the country and the rule of law, pointing out that the Center is not an organization that deals with military matters.

"We believe that membership in NATO is a value political issue. For us, the democratic achievements and the achievements of individual and collective freedoms, the state organization of NATO member countries and the quality of life in them is why the Center is in favor of the idea," said Milic.

The second "Belgrade NATO Week," said the organizer, the Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies, focused on getting young people from political parties in Serbia informed - through mutual dialogue and a series of working visits to state institutions and lectures, informed about how NATO works, what challenges exist within the organization, what is the common defense and security policy of the EU, which will enable them to help Serbia's citizens make independent political decisions on the subject.

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