Newsletter 13/2011 - Our South East Europe

SEENSA, new regional format of advanced protection of classified information

Security of a country is rooted in the classified data and their protection. Following that logic, cooperation between two or more countries requires mutual trust and confidence in order for them to efficiently undertake extremely sensitive process of exchange and protection of classified data.

Regional security cooperation in South East Europe (SEE) nowadays includes tackling national, regional and ever so present and applicable global threats and challenges.  

“The realities of regional security cooperation are sometimes misunderstood”, says Mitja Mocnik, Regional Cooperation Council’s (RCC) National Coordinator from Slovenia and former Director of Southeast European Co-operative Initiative (SECI) Center.

“Unfortunately, most practitioners and policy-makers are unaware of the challenges involved in such cooperation. Until recently, security cooperation paid insufficient attention to multi-country challenges in any systematic way.”

Mocnik explains that globalization has been accompanied by a dramatic increase in security threats.

“The key to this broader approach is the strategic or threat assessment, for which reliable and accurate information exchange is essential.”

The second decade of the 21st century brings additional technical and technological threats but also the tools for advancement of regional approach to security issues. As a response to the changes in the security environment, cooperation in SEE in this field has entered into the new phase after over a decade of instabilities and disputes. This new phase is clearly marked by common understanding of security challenges and willingness to address them jointly in a more comprehensive way. Regional scepticism has been replaced by more practical approach that builds on the best practices and experiences. 

One of the first steps towards building a stable and corresponding forum for the SEE’s security needs was initiated by the RCC, as set in its Strategy and Work Programme 2011-2013.

Pursuing this goal, the RCC and the Bulgarian State Commission on Information Security (SCIS) co-organized the first meeting of the South East European National Security Authorities (SEENSA) that took place in Sofia, Bulgaria in late May 2011. The regional effort was fully supported by NATO Office of Security and EU General Secretariat of the Council.  

For the first time, representatives of the national security authorities (NSAs) from RCC members gathered to discuss practical aspects of regional cooperation in the field of the functioning of the system for the protection of classified information.  

Tsveta Markova, Chairperson of the Bulgarian State Commission on Information Security says that the meeting set grounds for exchange of experiences and practices aimed at providing for effective interaction between the countries in the field of the protection of classified information.

“This is the first international initiative in such a format. Representatives of the participating counties shared national views on the level of international and bilateral cooperation between SEE countries’ NSAs, with the focus on relationships among them and between them and NATO/EU.”

Markova adds that the SCIS, as a national security authority which performs the policy of the Republic of Bulgaria on the protection of classified information, takes into account the particular importance of the cooperation between the states and the exchange of their experiences.

“The meeting in Sofia is an initiative that creates conditions for enhancing the standards in the field of protection of classified information, as well as for confirmation of professionalism and mutual trust.”

While welcoming SEENSA, Bogdan Ciortoloman from the Romanian NSA stresses that this forum will definitely help improve cooperation in the field of classified information security as well as strengthen the security and the stability of the region.

“The National Registry Office for Classified Information, as the Romanian national security authority, has done important steps to consolidate the cooperation with partner NSAs and to develop a functional and secure framework to protect classified information. Conclusion of security agreements on the mutual protection of this category of information was one of the main components of the process.”

When referring to the success of the Sofia meeting, Ciortoloman expresses belief that the process will include all main security domains such as personnel security, physical and document security, industrial security and especially Information Assurance – IA (formerly INFOSEC).

“As regards the IA, the approach should be based on both the NATO Strategic Concept and EU concerns to develop effective mechanisms and procedures ensuring an efficient cyber defense system for all communication and information systems, as well as a proper security incident alert mechanism.”

Ciortoloman is of the opinion that the debates of all relevant aspects of regional activities will result in the development of common procedures, standards and criteria meant to improve the management of classified information dealing simultaneously with the threats and challenges posed by the new security environment.

The first SEENSA gathering symbolizes a cornerstone for all future specific activities to improve the security and cooperation framework in SEE regarding the protection of classified information.

“Cooperation of South East European National Security Authorities (SEENSA) is a good and challenging start to streamlining regional cooperation in the field of security”, concludes Mocnik.

The second SEENSA meeting will take place in 2012. The RCC offered full support in co-organizing the meeting, since security cooperation is a key priority of the organization's Strategy and Work Programme for 2011-2013. 


The First Meeting of national security authorities from South East Europe (SEENSA) was held in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 25-27 May 2011 (Photo/ RCC/Elvira Ademovic)

The First Meeting of national security authorities from South East Europe (SEENSA) was held in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 25-27 May 2011 (Photo/ RCC/Elvira Ademovic)