Unlike other Western Balkan partners, Serbia does not aspire to join the Alliance. However, the country is deepening its political dialogue and cooperation with NATO on issues of common interest. Support for democratic, institutional and defense reforms is an important focus of NATO’s partnership with Serbia.
Kosovo is of course a key subject in NATO's dialogue with Serbia. The Alliance intervened militarily in early 1999 to bring an end to the violence in Kosovo, subsequently deploying the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) to provide a safe and secure environment and facilitate reconstruction. KFOR remains crucial to guaranteeing security in Kosovo and will remain in Kosovo on the basis of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 to ensure a safe and secure environment, including freedom of movement for all people. The Serbian armed forces have cooperated with KFOR for many years through the Joint Implementation Commission (JIC), based on the 1999 Military Technical Agreement between KFOR and the Serbian armed forces (Kumanovo Agreement).
Training is an important part of security cooperation and Serbian personnel participate in activities organised under the PfP program. The Operational Capabilities Concept (OCC) Evaluation and Feedback Program is used to develop and train partner forces that seek to meet NATO standards. Since 2011 Serbia has used the OCC as a strategic tool to transform their defense forces and ensure that Serbian military personnel are able to work effectively and safely within the UN and EU missions in which they serve.
Moreover, Serbia’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Training Centre in Kruševac was recognized as a Partnership Training and Education Center in 2013, opening its activities to Allies and partners.
Defence and security sector reform
Defense and security sector reforms are core elements of cooperation. An important vehicle for this cooperation has been the Serbia-NATO Defense Reform Group (DRG) which was established in February 2006 to provide advice and assistance to the Serbian authorities on reform and modernization of Serbia’s armed forces. Serbia also joined the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP) in 2007 which helps develop the interoperability and capabilities of forces which might be made available for NATO training, exercises and operations. PARP also provides a framework to assist partners to develop effective, affordable, and sustainable armed forces as well as to promote wider defense and security sector transformation and reform efforts. Today, PARP is the main instrument used to assess the implementation of defense-related objectives and targets in Serbia defined under the IPAP. The reforms undertaken within the DRG and the PARP are supported through the selection of training activities and exercises.
Serbia is actively engaged in the NATO Building Integrity (BI) Program – a defense capacity-building program aimed at reducing the risk of corruption in the defense and security sector. Following the completion of the NATO BI Self-Assessment Questionnaire and Peer Review Process in November 2012, the Defense Ministry started to implement the resulting recommendations. Furthermore, Serbia contributes to the development of the educational component of the BI Program by hosting workshops and sharing good practice and lessons learned with NATO members and partner countries participating in the mechanism.
The Allies have supported a number of NATO/PfP Trust Fund projects in Serbia. These include a project to destroy 28,000 surplus small arms and light weapons, which was completed in 2003, and another for the safe destruction of 1.4 million landmines and ammunition, which was completed in June 2007. A third Trust Fund project for the destruction of 2,000 tones of suprlus ammunition and explosives is under way. Another Trust Fund project to develop alternative livelihoods for former members of the Serbian armed forces was completed in 2011; carried out over five years and worth €9.6 million, the project helped almost 6,000 discharged defense personnel in Serbia start small businesses.
In total, NATO countries have invested over €15 million in Serbia through Trust Funds so far. More information is available in this fact sheet.
Security-related scientific cooperation
Serbia has been actively engaged within the framework of the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Program
since 2007. Backe by NATO's grants, scientists and experts from Serbia are working to address a wide range of security issues, notably in the fields of energy security, counter-terrorism, and defense against CBRN agents. The newest project was granted in mid 2017 in order to help Serbia's scientists to develop the commercial production of biofuel from algae. The pioneering three-year project is supported with €400,000 and is carried out by Belgrade’s Institute for Multidisciplinary Research in cooperation with Manchester University in the United Kingdom and Baylor University in the United States.
Previous NATO SPS projects have helped produce seismic charts for the Western Balkan countries, improve the protection of the Sava river water resources, while Serbian and German continue developing a decontamination and demining robot called T-Whex. Aslo, in a recent series of SPS-funded workshops led by Serbia and the United States, experts have developed a tool to assess how NATO and partner countries are mainstreaming gender in military operations in accordance with the UN Resolution 1325.
For more information about the SPS projects in Serbia see the following map and fact sheet.
Serbia and NATO aim to improve public access to information on the benefits of cooperation with NATO and the key elements of NATO-Serbia cooperation. The NATO Military Liaison Office in Belgrade plays an active role in this process, facilitating the Alliances' public diplomacy activities in th host country, including media engagements and cooperation with non-governmental organizations.