SEDM – South East Defence Ministerial

South East Defence Ministerial (SEDM) is a process of cooperation between the Ministries of Defence of Southeast Europe (SEE) aimed at strengthening political-military cooperation in the region and improving stability and security in the SEE. It was first initiated in March 1996 in Tirana, as the first in a series of joint meetings between defence ministers, deputy defence ministers and deputy chiefs of general staffs of Southeast Europe countries.

The legal framework for cooperation within the initiative is the Agreement on the Establishment of a Coordination Committee in the Framework of South-Eastern Europe Defence Ministerial Committee within the SEDM process signed in Thessaloniki in 2000, and the subsequent Agreement on the Establishment of a Coordination Committee in the Framework of South-Eastern Europe Defence Ministerial Process signed in Sofia in 2009.

SEDM member states are: Republic of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Bulgaria, Republic of Croatia, Republic of Georgia, Republic of Greece, Republic of Italy, Montenegro, Romania, Republic of Serbia, Republic of Slovenia, Republic of North Macedonia, Republic of Turkey, Republic of Ukraine and the USA, while the Republic of Moldova has the status of an observer country.

The SEDM initiative has two governing bodies, the SEDM Coordination Committee (SEDM CC) and the Political Military Steering Committee (PMSC), which is managed by the Secretariat on a two-year rotational basis. Currently (2021-2023), the SEDM-CC/PMSC Secretariat is chaired by the Republic of Bulgaria, which in July 2021 took over the presidency from the Republic of Albania. The Chairman of the SEDM-CC/PMSC Secretariat is the Deputy Minister of Defence of the Republic of Bulgaria, Plamen Hristov Jordanov.

Several projects operate within the SEDM initiative.

The largest and most important is the MPFSEE (Multinational Peacekeeping Force Southeast Europe), i.e. SEEBRIG (South-East European Brigade). The Brigade was established in 1999 based on the MPFSEE Agreement signed by the Ministers of Defence on 26 September 1998 in Skopje, the Republic of Macedonia. SEEBRIG was established by seven member states (Republic of North Macedonia, Republic of Albania, Republic of Bulgaria, Republic of Greece, Republic of Italy, Romania and the Republic of Turkey). SEEBRIG is governed by the Political Military Steering Committee (PMSC). The Republic of North Macedonia contributes to SEEBRIG with a Mechanized Infantry Company, an Engineering platoon (both units are stationed in the Republic of North Macedonia and are on call) and with 8 staff officers.

From August 2020, the Republic of North Macedonia is hosting the SEEBRIG Headquarters. SEEBRIG HQ is located in the “Boro Menkov” barracks in Kumanovo, while the family members of the staff are in Skopje.

Status of the SEDM process

Currently (2021–2023), the coordinating bodies of the SEDM initiative are chaired by the Republic of Bulgaria.

SEDM projects

Within the SEDM initiative, there are several projects whose main goal is to enhance regional cooperation, exchange experiences and information in different areas and advance the functioning of the SEDM process.

SEESIM (South East Europe Simulation Exercise)

The SEESIM project is a series of simulation exercises conducted every two years and is conceived as a collaboration between countries in the SEE region through networking to exchange information and assist in crisis management, both natural and man-made. Within the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of North Macedonia, the project holder is the Department for Civil-Military Cooperation (DCVS) with the Regional Defence Centers (RDC) of the MoD.

SEESIM – South East Europe Simulation Exercise.

FLSD (Female Leadership in security and defence)

The FLSD project was initially promoted by the Republic of Bulgaria, and it was approved and accepted at the meeting of the SEDM Defence Ministerial held on 03.10.2011 in Antalya, Turkey. The goal is to advance the process of implementation of the gender perspective and capacity development through the exchange of ideas and exchange of information of common interest.

BII (Building Integrity Initiative)

The main goal of this project, also promoted by the Republic of Bulgaria, is to reduce the risks of corruption in the security sector. Given that no significant activities have taken place within the project in the past two years, Bulgaria proposed at the next meeting for this project to be excluded from the agenda.

IMIHO (Interconnection of Military Hospitals)

IMIHO (Interconnection of Military Hospitals) as a project within the SEDM initiative is an international non-profit initiative that enables the exchange of medical information between Military Hospitals in a fast, easy, cheap and simple way, using Internet technology. The project holder is Greece. Within the MoD of the Republic of North Macedonia, the project holder is the General Staff of Army of the Republic of North Macedonia (coordinator – LTC Elizabeta Naumovska Petreski).

SEDM WEB Portal

The aim of this project is to provide a permanent secure portal, i.e. information service that supports SEDM. The portal provides secure exchange of information and documents that are created during the implementation of SEDM activities. Within the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of North Macedonia, the project holder is the C4 Department.

SEEBRIG – South East European Brigade

Legal framework for the functioning of SEEBRIG.

Link to SEEBRIG website

The following initiatives operate as part of the regional SEDM (South East Defence Ministerial): the MPFSEE (Multinational Peacekeeping Force of SEE) and SEEBRIG (South-East European Brigade). SEEBRIG member countries are the Republic of Albania, the Republic of Bulgaria, the Hellenic Republic, the Republic of North Macedonia, Romania and the Republic of Turkey.

The Brigade was established in 1999 on the basis of the MPFSEE Agreement signed by the Ministers of Defence on 26 September 1998 in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia. The Agreement defines the role and basic tasks of the brigade, the manner of its functioning, financing, regulating the location of the SEEBRIG Headquarters, the manner of staffing and its functions, as well as the tasks and responsibilities of the units declared in the brigade.

In support of the Agreement, the Member States have adopted six Additional Protocols detailing the work of the SEEBRIG HQ and its staff. The last, Sixth Additional Protocol was signed at the Meeting of the Deputy Chiefs of Staff (DCHODs) of the member states of the SEDM process, which took place on 12.06.2019 in Skopje.

As of 26 August 2020, the Southeast Europe Brigade Command (SEEBRIG) (until mid-2026) has been located in Kumanovo.news link

Earlier, the Southeast Europe Brigade Headquarters was located in Larissa, Istanbul, Constanta and Plovdiv.

The current SEEBRIG Commander is the Greek Brigadier General Evangelos MITROUTSIKOS.

SEEBRIG consists of four mechanized infantry battalions, one mechanized company, one reconnaissance company, one reconnaissance platoon and engineering units. The units are declared in the Brigade by the member states, but remain at their permanent home base locations and are bound by the principle of special forces for exercises and operations at the discretion of the participating countries and the relevant directive of the Political-Military Steering Committee (PSMC).

The Republic of North Macedonia contributes to SEEBRIG with:

  1. Mechanized Infantry Company – as part of the Turkish battalion.
  2. Engineering platoon – operates within the Engineering Task Force (all SEEBRIG Member States contribute with their facilities to the SEEBRIG Engineering Task Force).
  3. Staff Officers:
  4. a) SEEBRIG HQ Chief of Staff;
  5. b) Administrator/Driver of the SEEBRIG Chief of Staff;
  6. c) Deputy Chief of Staff (the position is on a multinational rotation basis);
  7. d) Administrator/Driver of the Deputy SEEBRIG Chief of Staff;
  8. e) Legal Advisor;
  9. f) Procurement and Contracts Officer in G-4 section;
  10. g) Chief of G-7 Engineering section (the position is on a three-year rotation basis between North Macedonia and Albania)
  11. h) Administrator/driver in the G-7 Engineering section (the position is on a three-year rotation basis between North Macedonia and Albania);
  12. i) Planning Officer in the G-9 section;

US – Adriatic Charter (A5)

Legal framework for cooperation

At the initiative of the Republic of North Macedonia, as part of the NATO/EAPC Summit in Prague (23.11.2002) the Presidents and Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Macedonia, Albania and Croatia held meetings where they promoted and accepted the initiative informally called Ohrid – Adriatic.

The cooperation in the field of defence in the A-3 context began after the signing of the Charter of Partnership between the United States, Albania, Croatia and Macedonia in Tirana on 2 May 2003, by the Foreign Ministers of the three countries.

In January 2009, a US-Adriatic Charter Implementation Partnership Plan was adopted for the first time in a new format (A-5), which included the new member states of the group: Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Status of the initiative

At the meeting of Political Defence Directors held in April 2019 in Tirana, Republic of Albania, the US-Adriatic Charter member states expressed their unequivocal support and conveyed their sincere congratulations on the signing of the Accession Protocol for the Republic of North Macedonia to join NATO. They expressed hope for completion of the ratification process by the end of 2019.

It was agreed at the meeting that the A5 initiative was an excellent framework for promoting and enhancing regional stability and security, and the political directors expressed their support for increasing and expanding the cooperation. In that context, the unequivocal commitment to further joint participation in exercise activities and NATO peacekeeping operations was once again reiterated.

Activities:

Two meetings of the Political Defence Directors held annually. The host country is the country presently chairing the initiative; Meeting of the Implementation Group for the preparation of the meeting of the Chiefs of General Staffs of the A-5 member countries;

One meeting annually of the J-2, J-4 and J-6 Chiefs of the General Staffs of the Armies of the Member States (Skopje, Podgorica and Tirana);

RACVIAC – Center for Security Cooperation

RACVIACWeb page

RACVIAC was established in 2000, as the Regional Arms Control Verification Implementation Assistance Center, under the auspices of the Third Working Roundtable of the SEE Stability Pact, to provide arms control training, promotion of confidence and security measures and wider cooperation with SEE countries.

RACVIAC is an international, independent, non-profit and academic organization regionally owned by the signatories of the 2010 Agreement, with the status of a diplomatic mission.

Since 2000, the Republic of North Macedonia has been continuously present with its representative in the Center.

Forum of Chiefs of the General Staffs of the Armies of the Balkan Countries (B-9)

The Forum of Balkan Chiefs of the General Staffs of the Armies was established at the initiative of Greece and Turkey in 2006.

The initiative was officially established with the signing of the “Terms of reference” by the Chiefs of the General Staffs of the Balkan countries on 10 May 2007 in Brussels.

The Chiefs of the General Staffs Forum has 9 members (Albania, B&H, Bulgaria, Greece, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Turkey and Montenegro).

The stakeholder of the activities of this initiative is the General Staff of the Army of the Republic of North Macedonia.

Activities:

Conference of the Heads of the Balkan Countries (once a year). Thirteen conferences of the General Staff of the Balkan countries have been held so far,

Three meetings per year of the Coordination Group,

One or two meetings per year of the Subgroup on Education, Training and Exercises,

One or two meetings per year of the Subgroup on Asymmetric Threats,

One meeting of the South East Europe Telecommunication Network (SEETN) Management Team – SEETN

During the 5th Conference of the Chiefs of the General Staffs of the Balkan countries it was agreed that each year, an exercise with the participation of all member states of the initiative will be organized. The last was the exercise Balkan Bridges 19 which took place in October 2019 in Sofia, Republic of Bulgaria.

– The Army of the Republic of North Macedonia hosted a joint exercise of the special units of the Armed Forces of the Balkan countries EAGLE 2012 which took place at TA Krivolak,

– In Annex B from the list of activities, ARNM has reported the following activities: Courses in the Medical Training Center, courses in the Public Affairs Regional Center – PARC,

Balkan Medical Task Force Initiative –Balkan Medical Task Force (BMTF) is a “Smart Defence” project (as such presented at the NATO Summit in Chicago 2012) which arises from the idea of ​​Norway and the United States, and was initiated jointly with the Republic of North Macedonia and Serbia. Members from the region in addition to our country are: Albania, B&H, Slovenia, Serbia and Montenegro.

With the ratification of the International Agreement by all member states, the BMTF was officially established on 5 March 2018.

The aim of this project is to build regional medical facilities capable of rapidly responding to a wide range of situations (natural or man-made disasters and international operations) and to train nations and enable them to provide vital facilities for the needs of international operations, which could be used as part of the national medical service.

This project enables improvement and training of the national military medicine capacities, strengthening of the regional military medicine capacities for support of the civil society and enabling of the national military medicine services for construction of standardized capacities with high level of interoperability in the region and with the UN/NATO/EU/PfP.

The basic capacity of BMTF is a Role 2 field hospital. This key capacity with equipment and staff is owned by three BMTF member countries: North Macedonia, Slovenia and Serbia. This means that only these three countries can assume (on a rotational basis) the BMTF Framework Country.

At a regional military-medical conference in Belgrade in April 2011, the BMTF was mandated to begin an assessment of the construction of regional military-medical facilities.

At the Regional Military Medicine Conference in Belgrade in September 2013, the BMTF member states accepted the BMTF Concept and gave a mandate to start building their own facilities. At the same conference it was decided that the permanent headquarters of the Standing Organization (Headquarters) of the BMTF should be in the Republic of North Macedonia (Ilinden Barracks/grand opening 5 October 2016).

From November 2013 until today, the Republic of North Macedonia has been the Chairman of the BMTF Steering Board.

Upcoming activities

The Republic of North Macedonia has undertaken the obligation to be the second Framework Country of the BMTF in the second period of readiness 2020-2022.

The Republic of North Macedonia was admitted to the United Nations on 8 April 1993 with the resolution of the General Assembly no. 47/225, and on the recommendation of the Security Council, contained in Security Council Resolution 817 of 7 April 1993.

After joining the UN, we achieved significant activities and assumed a recognizable place in the world organization, where the principle of one country – one vote allows us to articulate our own national interests. We were also the host country of the first successful UN preventive mission, which was established at our request, in order to prevent the spillover of military activities from the former republics of the former SFRY –UNPREDEP.

The Republic of North Macedonia is also interested in greater participation in the UN peacekeeping operations, which is currently done with three military officers as part of the UN mission in Lebanon – UNIFIL. In this regard, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia and Minister of Defence Radmila Shekerinska sent a letter to the UN Undersecretary for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix, expressing readiness for the participation of Francophone military officers in French-led missions within the UN.

In addition to the mentioned contribution to the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon – UNIFIL, the Ministry of Defence also provides contribution in the areas of gender issues, sexual and gender-based violence in humanitarian crises, Vancouver Principles – prevention of recruitment and use of child soldiers, Participation in UN meetings on peacekeeping operations at the level of defence ministers, referral of our members to conferences, symposia, trainings and courses organized by the UN.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe – OSCE is an international institution representing a forum for political dialogue aimed at the security stabilization of the region, through democratic means and democratic governance.

Prior to becoming a permanent organization, it acted as the Congress for European Security and Cooperation (CSCE) between1973 and 1995.

The highest bodies are the Summit and the Council of Ministers, which meets every week in Vienna, serving as a regular negotiating and decision-making body. The permanent council is chaired by a chairman, who is appointed for one year.

In addition to the Ministerial and Permanent Council, there is a Forum for Security Cooperation and an Economic Forum, which are part of the decision-making bodies. The headquarters of the OSCE Secretariat are in Vienna, Austria. In addition, the organization has offices in Copenhagen, Geneva, The Hague, Prague and Warsaw.

The Republic of North Macedonia was admitted to the OSCE on 12 October 1995. The OSCE Mission to Skopje is the organization’s oldest field mission. It was launched in September 1992, with the main goal of preventing a spillover of conflicts from the region. The activities of the OSCE Mission to the Republic of North Macedonia take place in close cooperation with the Macedonian authorities. The Ministry of Defence of the Republic of North Macedonia cooperates with the OSCE, through participation in activities and projects of common interest, such as in the field of migration, dealing with unforeseen situations, management and reforms in the security sector and the promotion of gender equality.

International Committee on Military Medicine

International Committee on Military Medicine (International Committee on Military Medicine) is an international and intergovernmental organization that has 117 member states with officially delegated representatives, in order to maintain and strengthen the links of professional cooperation between the Medical Services of the Armed Forces of all member states; to maintain constant contact with representatives of the various medical services of the armed forces around the world; to promote respect for and application of international humanitarian law; to inform the members about the innovative projects and other achievements by issuing publications, etc.

The Republic of North Macedonia has been a member of this organization since 1997.

Geneva Center for Security Policy

The Geneva Center for Security Policy GCSP traces its roots to the 1985 Geneva Summit, the first meeting between then-US President Ronald Reagan and the Soviet Secretary-General Mikhail Gorbachev to discuss international diplomatic relations and the Cold War arms race.

The meeting identified the need to strengthen national expertise in the field of disarmament and international security, so that the Swiss Confederation took the initiative to develop a nine-month executive training program for government officials, which met the needs of officials not only from Switzerland, but also in many other countries in Europe and beyond.

This program was uniquely designed to address the most critical issues in a roundtable format, facilitating discussions between experts and practitioners. Officials not only gained knowledge, but also built relationships and trust among themselves. In this way the course became a means of building and maintaining peace, security and stability and of fostering international cooperation. That is how the GCSP was born.

In the work so far, high quality executive education programs in international security policy have been delivered to participants coming first from the Euro-Atlantic area and then from all over the world.

The Center covers the areas: proliferation of weapons, crisis management, cyber security, defence and diplomacy, diplomatic trade, effective governance, gender and inclusive security, terrorism and organized crime, security and law, peace operations and peacebuilding, etc.

The cooperation of our Ministry of Defence with this center dates back to the very beginning of GCSP. In the past years, our representatives have taken part in numerous events organized by this center. In January 2011 in Skopje, with the support of our Ministry, a Regional Course on Diplomacy and Security Policy for military personnel was organized.

International Military Sports Council – CISM

International Military Sports Council –CISM was founded on 18 February 1948 in Nice (France) by five founding nations – Belgium, Denmark, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. This organization is one of the largest multidisciplinary organizations in the world. It organizes various sporting events for the armed forces of its 136 member states and is one of the global sports organizations representing the largest number of disciplines. Soldiers, who may have previously met on the battlefield, now meet in sports arenas. This is in line with the philosophy and ideals set out in the 1998 CISM mission statement, signed by all member states.

According to CISM, the benefit of participating in this organization is:

  1. Raising trust and cohesion among soldiers;
  2. Creating militarily trained and motivated soldiers;
  3. Enhancing the attractiveness of the military service;
  4. Identifying, training and motivating talents;
  5. Providing experience through international competitions;
  6. Strengthening intercultural and international competencies;
  7. Using sport as an effective diplomatic enabler;
  8. Using sports for deconflict/peacebuilding;
  9. Supporting the spread of human rights globally.

The Republic of North Macedonia as one of the member countries of this organization, regularly participates in sports activities in its organization.

The Republic of North Macedonia hosted the 31st World Military Wrestling Championship which took place in Skopje in September 2016.

Our last participations were by the army athletes, who participated in the 7th Military Sports Games in Wuhan, PR of China from 14-29.10.2019 and the 84th Fraunfelder Military Marathon (in this marathon we regularly achieve high rankings).

Framework Nations Concept

The Framework Nations Concept (FNC) was promoted at the NATO Summit in Wales (2014), as a continuation of NATO and EU efforts to promote and intensify projects in the context of NATO and the EU and to pursue the concepts “smart defence (NATO)” and “pooling and sharing (EU)”, accordingly. This concept is a result of the changing security constellation of NATO and the EU and serves as a pragmatic guide for defence cooperation. States cooperate voluntarily in a highly agile format, retaining full sovereignty.

Following the Wales Summit, three groups were formed, led by Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom. The approaches of the three different FNC groups differ in terms of objectives, methods and structure. Each group creates its own dynamics and bases for cooperation.

The Italian-led group is focused on developing greater command and control capabilities and more efficient deployment of the ground component in stabilization and reconstruction operations. The group is based on four pillars:

  1. Education, training and exercises;
  2. Multinational formations/entities;
  3. Operational commitments and
  4. Capacity development.

Our involvement in this group started with the invitation sent to us and our participation in the 4th meeting of the Coordination Board, which took place in September 2018 in Ljubljana, and continued with our regular participation in the activities of the FNC ITA Grouping (as an observer), as well as by holding a working meeting with representatives of the Armed Forces of Italy, in November 2018 in Skopje, in the course of which the areas for possible cooperation were defined.

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