Newsletter 6/2010 - Our South East Europe
INTERVIEW with Avgustina Tzvetkova, Deputy Minister of Defence of Bulgaria
Stronger political and military cooperation in the region needed to confront emerging security threats
Minister Tzvetkova, what does cooperation in the area of security mean for the region, and where do you see the value added?
The countries from South Eastern Europe (SEE) realize the substantial need for intensifying the regional cooperation alongside with the bilateral one, so that at the end of the day the needed progress on security issues is achieved and a permanent tendency to reducing the difference between the security levels in SEE and other European regions is established. From a periphery, the region is turning more and more into a centre for security initiatives of the SEE countries, and attracting the interest of global players. The countries tend to seriously reconsider and better coordinate a great deal of ideas, initiatives and security mechanisms. That is why one of the priorities of the Bulgarian South East Europe Defence Ministerial (SEDM) Chairmanship is to focus the efforts of the countries to transform the SEDM from a discussion forum into a mechanism for efficient and improved practical cooperation.
To which extent are the SEE countries open to regional cooperation in the security sector, given the specificity of national defence policies and the sensitivity of the issue?
The SEE countries understand they have to strengthen the political and military cooperation to confront the existing and emerging 21st century security threats. The SEDM countries have already reached remarkable progress. From now on, we have to encourage the efforts towards achieving more concrete results to further enhance peace and stability, cooperation and good neighborly relations within South East European region and beyond. One of the priorities of Bulgarian Chairmanship is to encourage SEE countries and to support their aspirations for full SEDM membership. To our great satisfaction,
NATO and the European Union (EU) member countries have at their disposal the best tools and experience, but we should not underestimate the enthusiasm of the other countries willing and determined to take the fast track to full integration into the European and Euro-Atlantic security structures. We still need to make some additional efforts and continue the Open Door Policy as long as the region is homogeneous from the point of view of its security.
How does the SEDM contribute to the security cooperation and confidence building measures in South
We consider SEDM the major regional cooperation format in the area of security. The South East European Defence Ministerial Process is characterized by the best laid goals, the longest evolution history, the most developed cooperation mechanism and the highest practical level of achieving results. The very fact of establishing and functioning of the South East European Brigade (SEEBRIG) speaks for itself for the concrete steps and confidence building measures which within a decade abolished the consequences of a half a century prevailing hostility. In its capacity of the SEDM Chair,
Quite naturally, the scope of SEE cooperation is much broader as compared to the SEDM process and our goal should be to aim at uniting and providing for cooperation and stimulating the evolution of the two processes rather than dividing them.
Where do you see the region in terms of security in the next five years?
The future of regional security is a function of our present efforts. I do believe all countries will continue to work for the better regional cooperation of their nations. I very much hope that in five years at least one more wave of NATO and EU enlargement in SEE would be a fact; we will have a much better interoperability of the Armed Forces of the countries from the region; we would have the experience of SEEBRIG’s participation in a multinational mission under international auspices; the objectively existing problems that as of today provoke difference of opinion and delay the progress on the bilateral and multilateral arena in the security area would sufficiently be reduced. I would also wish for a much more simplified but more efficient system for interaction on major regional security issues.
How do you view the role of the Regional Cooperation Council as a promoter of regional cooperation?
The Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) is a result of our joint efforts which for the time being is still at the initial stage of clearly stipulating its tasks and responsibilities. We still remember the great deal of difficulties the Stability Pact for
Avgustina Tzvetkova has assumed duties of Deputy Minister of Defence of