The Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) is developing, streamlining, facilitating and supporting South East European (SEE) regional mechanisms with low-cost activities and high impact on regional confidence building. These mechanisms are not ‘structures’ but are mutually accepted by the beneficiary countries’ as specific institutional forums for exchange of information and security experience, knowledge and lessons learned and have value added for the institutions benefits through regional cooperation.
Overall security and political stability have improved in South East Europe (SEE) in the past decade, with seven countries being members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and five participating in the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme. Currently five RCC participants from SEE are members of the European Union (EU), which plays its own role through its security structures and through the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) activities.
The increased number of NATO countries in the region, as well as the closer links with the EU created new responsibilities for the SEE countries and the need for strengthening the regional cooperation. In this respect, the objectives and activities planned by the RCC Strategy and Work Programs (SWP) fitted perfectly in the regional security cooperation context.
These existing regional mechanisms (such as: South East Europe Military Intelligence Chiefs Forum (SEEMIC); South East Europe National Security Authorities Forum (SEENSA); South East Europe Heads of Parliamentarian Specialised Committees Forum (SEEHPSC); South East Europe Defence Policy Directors Forum (SEEDPD); South East Europe Defence procurement Directors Forum (SEEDPrD) and others) allow the participating institutions to find the fields of mutually needed and accepted assistance, to identify and address common challenges, and build regional cooperation for the benefit of the institutions, countries and the region. These mechanisms of cooperation were built with full support of the European and Euro-Atlantic establishments working in the same fields, such as NATO, the General Secretariat of the EU Council and the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the United States’ European Command (USEUCOM).
An important aspect of the RCC Strategy and Work Programme (SWP) 2014-2016 is the streamlining of the Regional Initiatives and Task Forces (RI&TF). In the Security Cooperation field this was not a matter of closing or merging RI&TF, but rather a matter of contributing to building operational links between RI&TF in the security and defence cooperation sector, thus identifying ways to avoid existing overlap. This effort has been concentrated mainly on the activities of the RI&TF (South East Europe Defence Ministerial (SEDM), Forum for Western Balkans Defence Cooperation (SEEC), US Adriatic charter (A5), Western Balkans Defence Intelligence Chiefs (WEBADIC), South East Europe Chiefs of Defence (B9), Centre for Security Cooperation (RACVIAC), Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Initiative for South East Europe (DPPI SEE) and South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC)) motivating them to join efforts in the implementation and resource distribution in project implementation excluding any overlap of activities.
Concerning specifically the disaster risk reduction area, the fact that South East Europe is highly vulnerable to natural, and, in some cases, manmade disasters with cross-border impact enhances the rationale described in the RCC Strategy for strengthening cooperation in order to prevent disasters and/or deal with the effects.
RCC efforts are mainly focused on further stabilizing and institutionalizing the DPPI as a fully regionally owned initiative covering the full variety of regional activities in the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) area. Cooperation in this field is also an important part of the European integration process.
The RCC is to focus its activities in the filed of security cooperation on the following core regional priorities:
- Improve efficiency of regional dialogue and cooperation mechanisms on security and defence issues, through the development of common strategic planning and increased coordination with and among RIs. The RCC will work towards building up common ground and reflecting it back into national priorities trough enhanced participation of national institutions of SEE countries in the activities of the RIs. This will be attained through regular consultations with national security institutions represented in the different RIs.
- Contribute to enhanced political support to security cooperation and the cross-sectoral dimension through:
- Establishing multilateral consultations forums such as heads of specialized parliamentary committees, and, security and defence advisors to the presidents/prime ministers. These formats will provide a platform for informal discussions and exchange of good practices for the benefit of security cooperation in SEE;
- Initiating a regional approach to the security information flow among security RIs and relevant national institutions enabling regional exchange of information and facilitating different RIs to establish operational links between and among them in order to execute and synchronize the exchange of information and analyses for better strategic planning and program implementation;
- Closely monitoring and analyzing security aspects of other priority areas of the RCC. According to the relevance of different sectors for human security, concrete priorities and modalities of action will be developed.