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The NATO Military Liaison Office Belgrade provides support for all press- and media-related inquiries in Serbia, working closely with the NATO Headquarters Press and Media Office, to provide timely responses. Please note that we can only answer queries from the media. Thank you for your kind understanding.

MLO Belgrade  /  Newsroom

Relentless diplomacy, credible defence, strong NATO

Extracts from the speech by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on receiving the "Diplomat of the Year" award by Foreign Policy magazine

12 November, Washington DC

We all want our countries and our people to be safe. But we also know that peace and security can never be taken for granted. And that our rules-based international order is under increased pressure. So tonight, I want to make a case for relentless transatlantic diplomacy, backed by credible transatlantic defence. In other words, a case for NATO!

We do not shy away from having frank and open discussions. Because that is the only way we can build common positions. And when all 29 Allies agree, our decisions are stronger.

Our Alliance is unmatched. We protect close to 1 billion citizens on both sides of the Atlantic. So what we say and what we do carries a great deal of weight. To navigate this unpredictable and challenging world, we must remain politically united and militarily strong.

We all know Theodore Roosevelt’s famous quote: “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far”.
This combination of diplomacy backed by military power has formed the basis of NATO’s strength and success over the years.
Because our security cannot rely on the size and strength of our armed forces only. Security also requires engaging in a dialogue with our potential adversaries to defuse tensions.
When 29 nations speak with one voice, their voice is more powerful than any other in the world.

MLO Belgrade  /  Newsroom

Serbia is a valued partner

Serbia is an important and valued partner to NATO and it is up to Serbia to decide how and in what manner it wishes to cooperate with Russia or any other country. In an interview for Srpski Telegraf, Chief NATO MLO Belgrade, Brig. Gen. Cesare Marinelli talked about Serbia’s cooperation with the Alliance, about Serbia preserving its military neutrality, about NATO’s view on Russian influence on Serbia, cooperation with Alliance member states with regard to providing arms, protection of Serbs in Kosovo that KFOR is responsible for, and the General’s overall life in Belgrade, where he has lived for almost four years now.

How many exercises have Serbia and NATO had to date and how do you assess our cooperation so far?

Exercises are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of NATO-Serbia cooperation, since there are a lot of things going on in the practical sphere that are not seen at first glance. As a partner country, Serbia has a high level of cooperation with NATO, with NATO fully respecting Serbia’s policy of military neutrality. Since Serbia joined the Partnership for Peace programme and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in 2006, we have done quite a lot together and I think the Serbian people saw how Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and President Aleksandar Vučić get along very well, advancing the political dialogue, with relations in the practical sphere constantly improving. NATO worked side by side with Serbian colleagues to destroy dangerous obsolete munitions, conducted a number of scientific research projects together, with many similar mutually beneficial projects still underway. In 2018, Serbia generously hosted two important exercises: “REGEX 18” – which helped Serbia prepare for unhindered participation in UN-led international peace operations, and “SRBIJA 18”.The “SRBIJA 18” exercise was aimed at helping countries deal more efficiently with emergencies like floods, fires and earthquakes. I would assess cooperation between NATO and Serbia as mutually beneficial and useful; practical; tailor-made to suit Serbia’s needs and wishes. Through our partnership, we provide education and training to Serbian Armed Forces officers. They visit NATO countries and get their training there. We exchange units, carry out joint exercises, share best practices, and NATO helps Serbia develop capacities for successful participation in multinational operations. On the other hand, Serbia also helps NATO. For example, Serbian military medicine teams are famous for their knowledge and expertise. That is why they helped NATO train Iraqi forces medical teams. We continually learn from each other.

NATO fully respect Serbia’s right to choose its own destiny and formulate its own foreign policy. It is solely up to Serbia how it wishes to conduct its foreign policy. We fully respect the choices made by our partners, choices Serbia makes or wishes to make. Serbia is an important and valued partner to NATO.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić

Could Serbia keep its neutrality and stay away from any military alliance?

My message is clear: NATO fully respects Serbia, its neutrality, and Serbia is an important and valued partner to NATO. NATO respects the right of every sovereign nation to decide its own destiny without force and without interference, whether it decides to join NATO or not. We fully respect Serbia’s right to make its own decisions, and that will not change. I repeat, NATO respects Serbia’s right to choose its own destiny without force and without interference. For NATO, this is a fundamental and important principle. It is up to Serbia to define how it wishes to conduct its foreign policy. Serbia has every right to choose its own path, like all its neighbours. We respect that. We don’t impose anything on our partners. A prosperous and economically strong Serbia is a prerequisite for peace and stability in the region, and we are glad that Serbia is on the path of growth and constant improvement. When we talk about NATO and if it is possible to stay militarily neutral and cooperate with us, examples of Austria, Sweden, Finland and even neutral Switzerland show that being neutral and partnering with NATO is possible. NATO-Serbia partnership is good for Serbia, good for the Western Balkans, and good for NATO.

Chief of NATO Military Liaison Office in Belgrade, Brigadier General Cesare Marinelli

Does Russia's influence in Serbia bother NATO and why is this influence often branded as "malign" by US officials?

We fully respect Serbia’s right to choose its own destiny and formulate its own foreign policy. It is solely up to Serbia how it wishes to conduct its foreign policy. We fully respect the choices made by our partners, choices Serbia makes or wishes to make. Serbia is an important and valued partner to NATO. Just to make it clear, NATO does not seek members or forces membership. As for the second part of your question, I must underline that I am a NATO official, not a US official. The only thing I can say is that it is up to Serbia to decide how it wants to cooperate with Russia or any other country and to what extent. We want the countries in the region to be able to make independent political choices, whichever direction they go, and retain their political sovereignty and full integrity without outside interference. I would like to stress that from NATO’s point of view, there is no conflict between having good relations with NATO and good relations with Russia. We don’t impose anything on our partners. Military neutrality is in no contradiction to cooperation with NATO.

Why isn't NATO offering Serbia its weaponry under favourable conditions like Russia?

NATO is an alliance of 29 democracies. NATO does not have an army, NATO does not own weapons, nor does it sell or buy weapons, NATO countries do. This is a common misconception when we talk about NATO. NATO is Italy, my home country, NATO is France, whose president visited Serbia recently, NATO is Norway, where our Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is from, NATO is Greece, where the majority of Serbs take their kids for summer holidays, NATO is Hungary, Slovakia and all the other members. On a bilateral level, there are a lot of things going on between Serbia and 29 NATO countries, some of which are also in the EU. These countries donate and invest a lot in Serbia, be it through NATO Trust Funds or their EU funds, or on a purely bilateral basis and economic cooperation. It is very difficult to summarize in one place the amount of funds allocated by NATO countries for Serbia. In addition, NATO invests in Serbia through various projects based on a logistics support agreement between Serbia and the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA). This agreement establishes ways for Serbia to implement practical projects in the areas of demilitarization, defence transformation or capacity building by enabling individual NATO member states and partners to provide resources through the Trust Funds

Is KFOR capable of protecting Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, specifically of protecting them from Albanian attacks, such as the most recent stabbing of a Serbian boy near the bridge that divides the Serbian Northern and Albanian Southern part of Mitrovica?

NATO strongly condemns all violence. Security of all people in Kosovo is of utmost importance to NATO. NATO is present in Kosovo through our KFOR mission, under a clear international mandate. We are there to create stability, peace and to protect all communities in Kosovo, including Serbs. We take our job very seriously. KFOR is fully dedicated to the mission and will do what is necessary to ensure a safe and secure environment. NATO cooperates closely with the United Nations, the European Union and other international actors, as appropriate, to fulfil its mission and support the development of a stable and peaceful environment.

Serbia is a homeland to a proud nation, with highly respected officers. Serbian Officers are held in very high regard all over the world.

About NATO Office in Belgrade

Regardless of the past, after almost 4 years in Belgrade as the Chief of the NATO Military Liaison Office, I am pleased to say that the relations between Serbia and NATO are better than they seem to the average person, with Serbia becoming an ever more important partner to NATO, since we both choose to be partners. We choose to be partners and that’s why we opened this Office 13 years ago and do other things together, not because they are easy, but because they improve us, because this partnership will serve to steadily build up cooperation and enhance political dialogue, since peace and stability are the foundations of prosperity, and safe environment for all is the only future we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to create alongside and with full support of our partners, with Serbia. Through hard work and dedication, with its strong leadership, Serbia is setting an example in promoting peace and stability in the Western Balkans.

Life in Belgrade and Impressions of Serbia

Belgrade is a wonderful city, a wonderful capital, with cafes that serve espresso as good as in Rome. Very friendly and kind people. I am surprised how many people speak my language, Italian. I’ve spent almost four lovely years in your city and I must say it has grown on me. Living in Serbia with my family, learning something new about your rich culture every day, I had the pleasure of experiencing true Serbian hospitality, feeling the friendliness of Serbian people, their traditions and seeing the true beauty of the country itself. During the time I spent in Belgrade, working and living among Serbs, I have grown to understand them, feel their sensitivities and emotional relation toward NATO. That is why I must underline that regardless of the past, after all these years, I am happy to say that the relations between Serbia and NATO are better than they seem to the average person, with Serbia having the highest possible level of cooperation with NATO as a partner country within the framework of the Individual Partnership Action Plan.

Serbian Officers have a good reputation

Serbia is a homeland to a proud nation, with highly respected officers. Your Armed Forces are held in very high regard all over the world. Additionally, my image of Serbia is shaped by brave Serbian officers that partake in peacekeeping missions around the world. Serbian officers are an example of how through dedication and professionalism Serbia became a valued partner in exporting peace and stability. I consider this to be partly our success as well, because it is NATO that provides capacity-building activities that that enable Serbia to reach the needed level of interoperability so as to participate in UN- and EU-led peacekeeping missions in places like the Central African Republic, Lebanon, and elsewhere. Some of my NATO colleagues, who had the pleasure of serving with your officers in these missions have nothing but words of praise for them. Serbian units are held in high regard in peacekeeping missions around the world I would say. Loyal, brave, and with the sense of duty and grit necessary to accomplish the mission and get results.

Story by NATO Military Liaison Office Belgrade


Serbia is deepening its political dialogue and cooperation with NATO on issues of common interest, with an important focus on support for democratic, institutional and defence reforms. To NATO, Serbia is a valued partner with NATO fully respecting Serbia's decision to be neutral. 

Together with Serbia, NATO is working on practical issues, such as the destruction of obsolete and dangerous munition and civilian preparedness, and Serbia is helping and providing support to NATO in some activities, such as medical training of Iraqi military medical personnel.

I am glad to say that through hard work and dedication, Serbia is promoting peace and stability in the Western Balkans

Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Tod D. Wolters

Partnerships: projecting stability through cooperation

The Allies seek to contribute to the efforts of the international community in projecting stability and strengthening security outside NATO territory. One of the means to do so is through cooperation and partnerships. Like with Serbia, the Alliance has developed a network of partnerships with non-member countries such as Austria, Finland, Switzerland, Australia and other partners across the globe. NATO pursues dialogue and practical cooperation with these nations on a wide range of political and security-related issues. NATO’s partnerships are beneficial to all involved and contribute to improved security for the broader international community.



General Wolters, SACEUR and General Mojsilović, SAF CHOD

Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Tod Wolters was welcomed in Belgrade by General Mojsilovic Serbian Armed Forces Chief of General Staff. During his visit to Serbia, SACEUR met with the Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić confirming yet once again the important role Serbia and NATO have in promoting peace in the Western Balkans.

SACEUR General Wolters and Serbian President Vučić


Serbian President Vučić and NATO SG Stoltenberg

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Allies welcomed Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić to NATO Headquarters (15 November 2017) to discuss cooperation between the Alliance and Serbia, as well as the security challenges facing the Western Balkans. The Secretary General stressed that NATO’s partnership with Serbia can bring real benefits to its citizens and the Western Balkans.

Serbian President Vučić attending the NAC meeting alongside NATO Deputy SG Gottemoeller and NATO SG Stoltenberg

Mr. Stoltenberg underlined that NATO is committed to building a strong partnership with Serbia, while fully respecting the country’s neutrality. He stressed that “a strong, democratic and prosperous Serbia means more security and stability for the whole region”.

Serbian President Vučić attending the NAC meeting alongside NATO Deputy SG Gottemoeller and NATO SG Stoltenberg



Jens Stoltenberg NATO Secretary General and Aleksandar Vučić Serbian President at the joint civilian exercise "SRBIJA 18"

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg inaugurated the civil emergency exercise “SRBIJA 2018” together with the President of the Republic of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić. ‎This was the biggest exercise organised by NATO's Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre, and the first hosted by Serbia. It included around 2,000 personnel from almost 40 countries. 


The Regional Collective Training Event Planning Workshop in support of "Regional Exercise 18" took place in Belgrade, Serbia.

REGEX is a NATO-supported opportunity for partner countries to plan and conduct an exercise from beginning to end and is tailored to their specific training requirements. Serbia has taken the lead for REGEX 18 following Bosnia and Herzegovina (REGEX 16) and Jordan (REGEX 17) as Partner Nations. 

The Serbian Armed Forces aims on train and mentor exercise planners from partner nations (Partnership for Peace/PfP, Mediterranean Dialogue/MD, Istanbul Cooperation Initiative/ICI, Partners across the Globe /PatG) on planning and organizing, as well as conducting a Multinational Brigade level Exercise (REGEX) in accordance with NATO procedures and standards. The scenario for REGEX 18 has foreseen a NATO-led and UN-approved Peace Support Operation.  


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