- Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach visited Belgrade for the first time since assuming the position of Chairman of the NATO Military Committee in June this year. Today's meetings were organized on the margins of the visit of the NATO delegation, headed by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, to the "SRBIJA 2018” exercise. During his visit, he met with the Minister of Defence Aleksandar Vulin, the Chief of General Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Milan Mojsilovic, and a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
At the meeting with Minister Vulin, beneficial aspects of cooperation with NATO through the Partnership for Peace programme were underlined, emphasizing that such relationship brings prosperity in numerous fields. Air Chief Marshal Peach stated that the Alliance fully respects Serbia’s military neutrality and partnership approach in its cooperation with NATO. He also reiterated the position of the Alliance that the decision to downsize KFOR forces should depend on the ongoing assessment of the development of the situation in political and military terms, and on security indicators, rather than on defined dates.
The Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant General Mojsilovic told the NATO Military Committee Chairman that the Serbian Armed Forces are satisfied with the current level of military cooperation that they are achieving with the Alliance. Marshal Peach, expressing his satisfaction that he is visiting Serbia, stressed that NATO members and allied countries appreciate the Serbian Armed Forces and their professionalism. "We absolutely respect your sovereignty and neutrality, but that does not mean that we cannot be partners and cooperate in different areas", said Marshal Peach. Speaking about the situation in Kosovo and Metohija, the Chief of General Staff said that KFOR is responsible according to the signed security agreements in the province, and they expect it to be neutral and contribute to general stability. The two interlocutors agreed that the dialogue between the Serbian Armed Forces and KFOR is necessary and that the established relations should be maintained.
In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach met Ambassador Branimir Filipovic, Acting Assistant Minister for Security Policy. In their talks, views were exchanged on the development of Serbia-NATO partner cooperation, the current situation in the region and Kosovo and Metohija in particular, including the discharge of the KFOR mandate, and the further promotion of dialogue at all levels which would contribute to a better understanding and settlement of issues of interest for both sides. Air Chief Marshal Peach pointed out that NATO fully respects Serbia’s commitment to pursuing a policy of military neutrality, and highly praised the partner cooperation carried out so far between Serbia and NATO at all levels. He noted that the talks with the Minister of Defence and the Chief of General Staff were very substantive and productive, and that he expected them to continue in the context of common goals of the preservation of peace and stability, promotion of cooperation between NATO and the Serbian Armed Forces and the fulfilment of the KFOR mandate. He underlined his willingness to use his current term to support Serbia-NATO partner cooperation as much as possible.
Earlier in the day, Chairman Peach attended the opening ceremony of the civilian emergency exercise "SRBIJA 2018” in Mladenovac, organized jointly by NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC) and the Serbian Ministry of Interior. The exercise was officially opened by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.