Newsletter 22/2012 - Our South East Europe

INTERVIEW with Arian Starova, Deputy Minister of Defense, Albania

Regional cooperation, instrument for increasing confidence among South East European countries

Mr Starova, when it comes to regional, European and Euro-Atlantic security policies, how would you assess 1) the confidence level among the RCC members from South East Europe, and 2) the importance of regional cooperation in facilitating and exchanging best practices related to protecting classified information?

It is very difficult to talk generally about the confidence level among the countries from the point of view of how things should be. So, comparatively speaking, that level is definitely much better than, say, it was 10-12 years ago, or during the time of Yugoslavia wars of the last decade of past century. Still, to be realistic enough, there are various levels of diffidence in some countries mainly linked with the interethnic relations. This can be felt in Serbia, [The Former Yugoslav Republic of] Macedonia, north of Kosovo[*] and Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, what is promising and offering space for optimism is the commitment of almost all the South East European countries to the Euro-Atlantic integration process. With the exception of Serbia which recently has declared a neutral policy towards North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the rest of them are either members of the Euro-Atlantic organization, or candidates, or aspirant countries. This situation might soon prove to be a catalyst for improvements in the Serbian policy versus these major integrations.

On the other side and despite the still existing problems, that level of confidence among the countries of our region is both an outcome of the respective regional cooperation and a cause for further regional cooperation. In terms of the classified information, the regional cooperation is following through the specific channels and institutions and the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) is putting a lot of efforts to facilitate them. To my knowledge, there are a number of joint activities in the region on the issue and, they are better and better paving the road for the cooperation. 

And, allow me to say as I now have the opportunity, that the RCC has been doing great efforts and has accomplished a lot in this area.            

What is your country’s approach to protection and exchange of classified information within the framework of regional cooperation, in particular the South East European National Security Authorities (SEENSA)?

The meeting of the South East European National Security Authorities (SEENSA) in Bulgaria, in May 2011, must be considered a success. It was the first event of the kind, but it showed to be very promising by the awareness the countries displayed at the event and the special support offered by the Office of Security of NATO, the Council of the European Union (EU) and especially the Regional Cooperation Council. My country, Albania, as an individual country but also as a NATO member fully understands the importance of protection and exchange of classified information for the national and international security.

The second meeting of SEENSA, held in Slovenia this year, constitutes another important step in the security architecture of our region.

How do you see Albania benefiting from advanced regional exchange of classified information, having in mind common European goals?

This is and should be something considered as natural, based upon our Euro-Atlantic common goals, as you say. The experts might be able to elaborate more on the issue. It is a process already going on to some extent, even though there is never perfection in that field.

Where do you see the role of the Regional Cooperation Council in assisting the South East European countries fulfilling their goals in this area?

As I have had the opportunity to be a little bit involved in the activities and work of the RCC and its Secretariat, I consider what the RCC is doing as very precious and committed. I would like to add that the present state of interethnic relations in some parts of our region, which I mentioned above, should not discourage RCC efforts. On the contrary, they should be considered as a normal part of its mission. What the RCC has done so far is great.  

Arian Starova has been Deputy Minister of Defense of Albania since 2009. Prior to that, Starova had been performing numerous significant duties and tasks amongst which: Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (1992-1997), Minister of Foreign Affairs (1997), Vice President of the international organization “Atlantic Treaty Association” (ATA; 2005-2008); Member of Parliament (2001-2009), Secretary of the Parliamentary Commission on Foreign Affairs (2005-2009); Member of the Advisory Board of the “Szeged Center for Security Policy", Hungary (2003-2008); President of the “Atlantic Council of Albania” (from 2002). Arian Starova holds a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Tirana, Albania. He has been awarded the title “Ambassador for Peace” by the “Universal Peace Federation” (UPF), Seoul, Korea (2007).

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.


Arian Starova, Deputy Minister of Defense, Albania. (Photo: courtesy of Mr. Starova)

Arian Starova, Deputy Minister of Defense, Albania. (Photo: courtesy of Mr. Starova)