Serbian Defence Strategies and Relations with Turkey

Within the light of fundamental steps taken recently in Serbia, Defence Turkey had an opportunity to interview with Chief

Issue 7

Defence Turkey: Serbia has obviously made some fundamental steps during recent years,both on national and international levels. Can you give us some information about the defence reform in Serbia? What kind of achievements and developments has been accomplished within the reform?

When in the middle of the last year Serbia’s independence was restored,we began with the transformation of the Serbian Armed Forces. We started in June 2006, and after 13 months, on the 1st July this year, new structure of Serbian Armed Forces was established. The previous organization and structure were adequate for past times, the sixties or the seventies of the last century. Some of the former units existed almost only on paper. We used to have complicated logistics and cumbersome administration – in short, it was expensive and uneconomical. In the course of the transformation,our goal was to have fewer units, but units that would be ready and mobile in any moment, appropriately manned and equipped. We have sized our armed forces in accordance with our capabilities and current security challenges. Having abandoned useless armament, such as tanks T-55,we formed real combat power brigades, highly mobile, properly equipped and over 90% manned. Today we do not have more Lieutenant Colonels than Lieutenants as before.

Defence Turkey: How much did it cost? Did you have additional expenditures?

We have established much more effective armed forces using the available resources. The intention was to get the maximum out of them. The transformation expenditures were financed

out of savings made due to the fast pace at which we got that job done.Currently, the defence budget in Serbia is allocated 2.4% of the GDP,and our economy has a stable growth of over 6% annually.

Defence Turkey: What will be the further steps?

Now when we have the organizational structure established, our priorities are training, modernization and professionalization, it means improvement of quality. All that should occur together with appropriate social reforms. Beside that, we still have the conscription system with the possibility of civilian service. As the process of professionalization moves along, the number of conscript soldiers will decrease and the number of professional soldiers will increase.According to the plan, the process is due to end in 2010.We also expect the new acts on armed forces and defence to be adopted soon, which will in many respects make our further steps easier, because the acts have been drafted in accordance with the current security challenges, the new vision of the armed forces and its position in the society.

Defence Turkey: The former Serbian Minister of Defence, Mr. Zoran Stankovic, visited Turkey in December 2006 and met Turkish officials. Could you please, give us more information about the cooperation between Turkey and Serbia?

The promotion of the bilateral military cooperation is exactly the purpose of the visit by the delegation of the Serbian Armed Forces General Staff.My visit is the first visit of our Chief of General Staff to your armed forces and the first visit of this level between Serbia and Turkey. In a way, it speaks for itself in terms of possibilities of promoting the cooperation between our armed forces. I hope for a visit by General Buyukanit to our armed forces. Cooperation with Turkish Armed Forces can be very useful to us.

Firstly, Turkey is a NATO country, and since last year we are a member of NATO Partnership for Peace Program.