Our region needs partnership in the field of security – Address at the Meeting of Directors of Intelligence Agencies of the participating countries in the Brdo-Brijuni Process
Friday, 20 April 2018 08:35   

sostanok_ARDistinguished Directors of Intelligence Agencies,
Respected Attendees,
Esteemed Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

As President of the Republic of Macedonia, I am honored to greet you at this first meeting of the directors of the intelligence agencies within the "Brdo-Brijuni" process.

We live in a region through which strategically important corridors pass. And yet, due to the slow integration, as a region, we stayed for too long outside the European Union and NATO. The security cooperation became hostage to the open bilateral issues. The lack of confidence among the countries in the region also affected the confidence in the exchange of information. The region became vulnerable to organized crime, ethnic extremism and religious radicalism.

In such complex conditions, migrants came. Along with them came foreign fighters, who went to the Middle East as extremists and returned as terrorists. It very soon proved that the crisis cannot be solved only by political declarations and bureaucratic procedures, but it must be managed with the help and support of both security services and army structures. Intelligence agencies play a key role in this process.

The migrant crisis was a catalyst that prompted our countries to leave aside the misunderstandings and begin to cooperate for the sake of the entire region.

The idea of ​​deeper security cooperation was born at the extraordinary meeting of the "Brdo-Brijuni" process in Zagreb, dedicated to the migrant crisis. Today, almost three years later, this idea is being realized. Next week, the Republic of Macedonia will host the "Brdo-Brijuni" Summit. The focus of the Summit will be security connection that needs to be promoted as a new syntagm in the region.

Respected Attendees,

The future of our region is in the EU. And yet, from some EU member states, we receive various messages of enlargement fatigue. This fatigue, among the other things, is also due to the perception of the Balkans as the periphery of Europe, as a region that is inherently unstable. The lack of trust between us is a perfect chance for third parties' influence on the economic prosperity of the states, on the revival of ethno-nationalist projects and on the prevention of the EU and NATO integration.

To change this perception, we must be proactive instead of reactive. The threats we face require creativity, partnership and unconventional thinking.

The real word that is most needed in our region in the field of security is partnership. Partnership accomplished by building trust for reliable data, joint operations and information protection. I will remind you that the protection of information, identities of intelligence officials and sources, as well as prevention of data leakage is a priority for every service. This is paramount in the time of false news and perception wars.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We, the presidents and the governments, need staff that is distinguished by pragmatism, meritocracy and honesty. It is necessary for the best of the best to find practical solutions for the common good of the citizens, states and the region. We need professionals who will be valued for the prevention by using reliable and preventive information.

There are increasingly non-material creations and challenges that the territorial state itself can hardly control. As never before, for the prevention of international terrorism, illegal migration, transnational organized crime, the use of the Internet for subversion, hybrid threats and nonlinear war requires data interoperability, joint work and mutual assistance.

May we use this initial meeting to send a clear message to the European centers. And that is a message that we, the countries of the region, can cooperate in this area of ​​vital importance for our societies and for Europe. Our intelligence agencies can jointly offer creative and pragmatic solutions to the security challenges we face.

Let us not forget the most important lesson we learned from the migrant crisis: the biggest weakness of the region is division, yet the biggest strength is cooperation. Let us build partnership relations, exchange reliable information, protect each other, because if we fail to do so, no one else is going to do it for us.

It is said that a chain is as firm as the strongest weakest link. On the continent of Europe, from a security point of view, that chain is the region of the Balkans. The stronger the Balkans, the stronger the European Union and Europe will be.

With that in mind, at the very end, I wish you a successful meeting and I thank you for your attention.