Newsletter 22/2012 - Our South East Europe
Trust and confidence prerequisites for advancing protection and exchange of classified information in South East Europe
Overall security and political stability have greatly 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. Soon-to-be five Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) member countries from SEE are members of the European Union (EU), which plays its own role through its security structures.
However, there is a need to build administrative capacity – taking into account the limited resources as well – in order to deal with multilateral cooperation in this area, as well as to continue reforms in order to meet the criteria for European and Euro-Atlantic integration.
One of the outstanding security segments in advancing cooperation level and mutual confidence among the South East European countries is protection and exchange of classified information.
The Forum of the Heads of South East European National Security Authorities (SEENSA) is a regional mechanism that allows for networking, building relationships and strengthening trust as a basis for furthering cooperation in the security area – with specific focus on the management, protection and exchange of classified information among EU candidate and potential candidate countries, and among them and South East European EU countries members of the RCC, as well as with EU institutions.
"This Forum is important not only for fostering cooperation among authorities responsible for the management, protection and exchange of classified information, but also for its broader impact on confidence-building, security, rule of law, and overall economic and social development of the countries of South East Europe", says Sorin Sterie, Expert on Security Issues at the RCC Secretariat.
Shyqyri Dekavelli, Head of the Albanian National Security Authority, explains that classified information is certainly the most sensitive information that a state has in its possession and whose exposure can harm its own national security.
"Therefore, the exchange of such information within the SEE countries has to be based on mutual trust, good cooperation and common security goals."
Dekavelli adds that the legal form of this cooperation manifested through the signing of general security agreements not only constitutes the instrument of reliance a country uses for its information but is also a demonstration of the relations built upon trust with the main focus on the war against terrorism, illegal trafficking and smuggling in SEE.
"The peaceful and cooperative climate in SEE is certainly not only a challenge of the countries themselves, but it has also been for years a challenge and focus of the international community, especially the EU and NATO, which continue to play the major role in SEE cooperation in all fields and particularly the one of security."
Lidija Kostovska, the Head of the National Security Authority of The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia stresses that possibilities to establish direct contact with each other and to share ideas, creates friendly atmosphere and maximizes the benefits for everybody.
"All these give rise to trust. Trust makes reversible effect by increasing willingness to contribute our own experience in the field of security of classified information for further development of the security."
According to Kostovska, it is the NSA as an originator of the national security policy in the field of the protection of classified information and as a guardian of their secrecy that should bring all its influence and energy to bear upon its tasks, regardless of the format of the activities.
"But the real power and support come from united activities with other NSAs, working together within the EU, NATO and RCC framework, as well as from the EU, NATO and the RCC itself. The security of classified information can only be provided by absolutely trustworthy partners. The NSAs working together within the EU, NATO and RCC framework are investing in a secure future."
"The Second SEENSA Conference held at Brdo near Kranj, Slovenia, on 7-9 May 2012 identified the problem of regulating cyber defense at the regional level, in line with security policies implemented by the EU and NATO", reminds Goran Matic, Head of the National Security Authority of Serbia.
"The first step towards solving this problem was taken by setting up the SEENSA Thematic Working Group for Cyber Defense coordinated by the Head of the Serbian NSA, with the support of his counterparts from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Moldova and Slovenia."
Matic explains that the first step should be creation of a theoretical regional cyber defense model and concept, and drafting of a relevant document or strategy addressing this problem area.
"In order to achieve this aim, other regional fora – such as the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP), the South-East European Military Intelligence Chiefs (SEEMIC), SEE Public- Private Partnership Network (SEEPPPN), etc. – dealing with security and defense issues have to be engaged altogether in specific activities within the RCC format in order to tackle all three aspects of the problem: political, legal and technological."
Matic explains that the first step is to create a theoretical regional cyber defense model and concept, and draft a relevant document or strategy addressing this problem area. He further adds that the national authorities responsible for the protection of classified information should have the leading role in this process, which is not easy, because neither the UN nor the EU, nor any other international and regional organization, have resolved this problem.
RCC Secretariat's Sterie reiterates that the SEENSA members decided to create four. Thematic Working Groups (TWG) on issues of great interest for the regional cooperation in the area and for the EU accession process as well: Security Agreements, Training and Vetting, Industrial Security, and Cyber Security."It was decided that each TWG will have a leading NSA and co-leading NSAs to join and assist with the work. Each leading NSA, through consultations facilitated by the RCC Secretariat, will draft a time schedule for the work of each TWG and a draft of the scope and substance of the thematic discussion, including the form of final outcome."