Serbia Gives Access To Military Facilities, Special Status To NATO Soldiers

BELGRADE – NATO soldiers should in future have free transit through Serbia, use its military infrastructure and be “protected” with a special status while staying in the country, writes “Vecernje Novosti”.

Image from: bezbednost.org

This is only one of the obligations Serbia committed to with individual action plan (IPAP), whose entry into force was officially marked by the Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic and Defense Minister Bratislav Gasic.

IPAP, among other things, involves signing of the so-called SOFA agreement (which Serbia already has with the US) with NATO member states, which regulates border crossing and immunity level for the members of Alliance while they are passing through Serbia or are residing in the country, as well as access to military facilities.

Serbia also committed to open the regional training center “Jug” near Bujanovac for all the members of the Partnership for Peace and NATO, to gradually harmonize its regulation in the field of defense with the EU and destroy surplus weapons.

Particularly intriguing is the mandatory sentence of cooperation with NATO in the field of public diplomacy, but, as sources who spoke with the daily claim, does not mean that Serbia should “blindly” follow NATO military doctrine, actions and foreign and security policy, but to cooperate in raising awareness of NATO standards, activities withing the Partnership for Peace and promotion of regional stability.

Photo: MOD

According to Minister Dacic, raising cooperation with NATO to the highest political level “does not in any way obligate Serbia to become a member”, nor calls into question its military neutrality:

“This is the furthest step Serbia will make towards NATO,” said Dacic.

“IPAP represents the highest level of cooperation with a partner state which is not willing to become a member of NATO. We are developing cooperation with the Alliance within the PfP and thereby contribute to the achievement of interoperability in the Army of Serbia, building military capacities to contribute to international peace and stability,” said Minister Gasic.

Military analyst Aleksandar Radic also does not see obligations under IPAP as contestable. He says that not even the commitment to secure free movement and special status for NATO soldiers is not contestable.

“There is no mystery in these agreements and they serve to simplify customs and border procedures, as well as the conditions of transit through Serbia, when, say, foreign soldiers come here for a joint military exercise or on some other occasion. When we sign such agreement with a country, then our soldiers have the same rights in that country,” said Radic.

 
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