"It is a great honor for me to represent NATO in Serbia and host the reception marking 12 years since the inauguration of the Military Liaison Office. During my time in Belgrade, working side by side with Serbian colleagues, learning every day something new about country’s rich culture and tradition, I had a pleasure to experience Serbian hospitality and see the beauty of the country itself. Living among Serbs, I have grown to understand them, acknowledging their sensitivities and emotional relation of ordinary citizens toward NATO. That is why I must underline that, regardless of the past, after these 12 years since the inauguration of the Office, I am pleased to say that the relations between Serbia and NATO are better than they seem to an 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 and do other things together, not because they are easy, but because they improve us, because this partnership will serve to steadily built 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.
Since Serbia joined the Partnership for Peace programme and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in 2006, we did quite a lot together and I think the Serbian people saw how Secretary General Stoltenberg and President Vucic get along very well, advancing the political dialogue, with relations in the practical sphere ever improving. NATO worked side by side with Serbian colleagues to destroy dangerous munitions, ran together a number of medical research projects, with many similar mutually beneficial projects still underway. In 2018, Serbia generously hosted two important exercises: "REGEX 18” – that help Serbia prepare for unhindered participation in international peace operations within the UN structure and "SRBIJA 18” - by far the largest civilian preparedness exercise with NATO and partner countries, a platform for first responders to learn from each other, gain real experiences together, and better prepare for real life disasters like floods, fires and earthquakes.
It is very important to say how very proud I am of the wide range of Allies and partners we have involved in these projects, as it shows how NATO can bring people together to work on security, defence and scientific projects for the larger benefit of the global community. These are clearly a benefit to Serbia, as well as to NATO countries and partners, especially since NATO and Serbia will carry on cooperating through science as well, providing opportunities to build up relationships and foster innovation that as a result will contribute to peace and stability.
Today, 12 years since the NATO Office began its work, what I think we could improve is show Serbian people what is actually happening, explaining what NATO is today and what we’ve done and what we’re doing together as partners. That is why, this year, with the aid of Norwegian Embassy, as the Contact Point Embassy, we will try to work on our public diplomacy efforts, promoting what it is that NATO and Serbia’s partnership bring to everyone. I hope, that with the support of Norwegian Embassy we will be able to, at least, provide a more accurate image of NATO and what we do here and anywhere.
At the end, I would like to use this opportunity to thank the Serbian Government, our colleagues from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and last, but not least to the Ministry of Defence for their kind cooperation and being the host to NATO Military Liaison Office since the very beginning and making us feel welcome every step of the way.”
Brigadier General Cesare Marinelli
Chief of the Military Liaison Office Belgrade
Belgrade, 15 January 2019
Chief NATO MLO Belgrade Cesare Marinelli, present the MLO plaque to the First Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia, H.E. Ivica Dacic at the reception celebrating the 12th Anniversary of the NATO MLO Belgrade and the HOTO ceremony