The National Security Strategy is, of course, the basic document on the basis of which the vast majority of modern states constitute their national security systems. There are numerous disagreements between domestic and foreign authors dealing with national security issues as well as national strategies regarding the content of such a document, its place and role in the hierarchy of legal and doctrinal documents. We consider that the adoption of the new National Security Strategy is a key precondition for establishing a modern national security system and a clear strategic direction of the state in the 21st century. The national security strategy is often mixed with the state strategy, which, in the interpretation, but also in the adoption, of these documents can cause additional confusion. A clear division of the content and the field of regulation of the National Security Strategy and other strategies, at a higher or lower level of generality, is a basic precondition for the coherent functioning of all state authorities or other organizations that in any way contribute to the strengthening of national security and overall social development. André Beaufre, a renowned French theorist, sets the National Security Strategy as part of a wider national strategy, the so-called “total strategy”, which is at the top of the strategies after which follows policy. This position is today dominant among European theoreticians.
The opinion on the position of the National Security Strategy in relation to other strategic and normative documents was adopted by the authors of the Draft correctly, in our opinion, because the National Security Strategy is defined as “the highest strategic document whose implementation protects the national values and interests of the Republic of Serbia from the challenges, risks and threats to security in different areas of social life”.
What makes the adoption of the new Strategy a serious problem is the time of its adoption. We have to agree with the statement made in the draft that: “The National Security Strategy is the starting point for the development of other strategic and doctrinal documents, documents of public policies and normative and legal acts in all areas of social life and the functioning of state authorities and institutions in order to preserve and protect the safety of citizens, society and the state”. But the question arises why a number of amendments to the law have been adopted in the areas that have to be covered (defense, internal affairs, intelligence and security system…) with the National Security Strategy at a time when the Strategy Draft was written, and was already in the public debate! In addition to that, along with the National Security Strategy Draft, the Defense Strategy Draft has been compiled, which has to be enacted only after the Strategy has been adopted. This creates a great deal of legal confusion because there are significant contradictions between strategic and legal texts and the impression is that the strategies are adopted solely to satisfy the form necessary in the process of European integration without the serious intention of becoming part of the legal order. The experience shows that over the last 18 years, a huge number of strategies and action plans have been adopted and their implementation is solely for the purpose of satisfying the form. We can freely say that the valid National Security and Defense Strategies have been adopted in a similar manner and that they have never substantially produced any legal effects.
In this fact, we see a very big shortcoming in the introductory part of the Strategy Draft, which in no way refers to the existing National Security Strategy, nor does it evaluate its achievements. However, the current National Security Strategy has been written so that it cannot be evaluated, since it has not set any targets whose realization can be estimated. This Draft also suffers from a similar shortcoming.
In the introductory part of the Strategy, national security is defined as follows: “The national security of the Republic of Serbia is an objective state of protection of its national values and interests from all forms of threats, and a subjective sense of security for the citizens of the Republic of Serbia. It is the result of the influence of the strategic environment and the measures taken and the activities of state authorities and institutions in the execution of security functions and the activities of other entities in all areas of social life”.
We believe that this definition is too static because it defines national security as “state and absence” with the introduction of psychological elements, which is more in line with the concept of “safety” than security. We believe that national security is, and must be, a dynamic process involving the activities of state authorities, local self-government authorities and other organizations in reaching and preserving national values and goals, which are dynamic, and in the modern world, some of them are even hard-to-catch and it is impossible to include them with a static definition.
National security is the only starting point of security from which international and corporate are derived, based on the transfer of part of jurisdiction and / or sovereignty. This basic national security mission cannot be seen in this Draft!
In the introductory part of the Draft, serious contradictions are noticeable. The starting points of the Strategy are: preservation of sovereignty and territorial integrity, military neutrality, regard for the Serbian people beyond the borders of the Republic of Serbia, European integration and an efficient legal state. The question arises as to who and when proclaimed and who recognized the military neutrality of the Republic of Serbia, and how it is possible to simultaneously declare neutrality and European integrations as the starting points of the National Security Strategy. Please note that the Declaration that the National Assembly on Kosovo and Metohija passed is stating that Serbia will not join existing military alliances is NOT a declaration of neutrality. Neutrality is not a one-sided act, it must be recognized and its content determined by international treaties.
In the part of the Strategy Draft relating to the strategic environment, a global and regional environment is analyzed.
Initially, it says: “Political, economic, cultural and security relations in the world are taking place in a global multipolar and multilateral environment, in which more and more emphasis is placed on balancing power and the complex interdependence of states. With the contemporary notion of global security that encompasses the various spheres of social life, the possibility of solving conflict situations peacefully is open and the prospect of developing a policy of cooperation and communication at the global and regional level”.
The multipolar and multilateral world is a mantra that has been repeated since the 1990s as the excuse to avoid integration processes until “the great Russian bear is awakened”, or until “socialism as a world process” is established. Particularly astonishing is the statement of “power equalization” when we take into account how much the difference in all parameters of power, above all economic, trade and military, between the US and EU on one and all other states on the other, is increasing, apart from China, which has managed to some extent to reduce this difference. We believe that frivolous, flat and unfounded assessments should not be found in this type of document.
And after that the following conclusion emerges: “Integrative security processes, as well as growing political, economic and cultural cooperation, significantly reduce the risks of state conflict, as well as the possibility of uncontrolled crises and the transfer of conflicts from one area to another”!!! If so, why is military neutrality proclaimed as the starting point of the National Security Strategy? Why do not we also meet integration processes and reduce the risk of conflict? In order to determine how to face new and changing challenges, risks and threats that have to be adequately addressed.
The overall state of security in the world is assessed as:
“The general state of security in the world is significantly jeopardized by the gross violation of the Charter of the United Nations and generally accepted norms of international law, and in particular the interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states, as well as the concept and practice of preventive attacks and military interventionism. Particularly worrying is the tendency of intensification of the relations between the great powers, conditioned by the competition to realize their opposing interests and changing the existing spheres of influence. In such circumstances, the risk of a military conflict of global proportions, although significantly reduced, cannot be completely ruled out. The greatest threats on the international plane will continue to be international terrorism, organized crime, the strengthening of political and religious extremism, the migrant crisis and mediating conflicts in the long run”.
This passage can be freely placed on a date from the half of the last century and would be very up-to-date. The “gross violation of the UN Charter” is an empty phrase, which is repeated in our “expert” public for more than sixty years, so we believe that in the 2018 document it should finally be omitted. If we base our national security on the UN Charter and “generally accepted norms of international law”, we are afraid that our prospects are not great.
Special pearl is the ascertainment that the European Union faces a number of complex problems, such as terrorism, migration, economic crisis. Most of these problems were current a few years ago and have been successfully overcame. The current problems of the EU have not been mentioned. In addition, NATO has serious problems with the budget!
A retrospect on the region of the Balkans in this part of the Draft is full of flat, often completely unfounded, and the completely irrelevant conclusions. The biggest problems are “attempts to revise history, economic underdevelopment… and similar nonsense, but there is still cooperation that contributes to peace and security….”
The true state of affairs in the region is not even mentioned. How will the problem of Kosovo and Metohija be resolved, how to respond to external and internal attacks on President Vucic’s Plan, what importance Montenegro’s NATO accession has for us, the negotiations between Greece and Macedonia, and the near accession of Macedonia to NATO, the elimination of the border between Albania and Kosovo, the status of Republika Srpska. There is not a single word about Russia’s influence in the region that the United States and the EU view as “malignant”. What do we expect from other powers in the process of resolving the issues of K&M, above all Russia, how do we see cooperation with China in the light of our European aspirations, how do we see the role of Turkey in the Balkans.
“Democratic processes and the European foreign policy orientation of the Republic of Serbia strengthen its international position and positively influence the creation and improvement of the policy of cooperation and strengthening of confidence in the region. On this basis, the security policy of the Republic of Serbia makes it a reliable partner in international relations and an important factor in regional security cooperation”.
Such a statement can be voiced by someone who has not read newspapers in the last two months or watched television!
“Progress in Serbia’s accession to the European Union positively affects its political, economic and social stability. The development of the partnership cooperation between the Republic of Serbia and NATO, based on the policy of military neutrality and the Partnership for Peace program, as well as the observation position in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), contributes to the stability of the Republic of Serbia. In order to further develop the region’s democracy, stability and prosperity, it is important for the Republic of Serbia to improve relations with the United States, the Russian Federation, China, as well as with other traditional partners and significant factors of the international community”.
This paragraph does not need a comment. Cooperation with NATO and CSTO, the United States and the Russian Federation simultaneously! With our progress on the road to the EU.
The authors of these lines should be reminded that the EU and the US are holding Russia under the sanctions regime that is getting worse day after day, and that one of the conditions for Serbia’s accession to the EU is to harmonize with foreign policy that imposes sanctions on Russia!
We believe that part of the Strategy Draft relating to the Strategic Environment should be simply deleted and serious text based on facts, not propaganda should be written which will analyze the relations of the world’s major powers, above all the United States and China, the world economic and political situation, the position of Russia in the modern world, based on facts and not Sputnik, and the state of the current world conflicts.
When the region is concerned, it is necessary to give adequate answers to all the issues aforementioned. It is especially important to correctly understand the processes in Macedonia, Greece and Montenegro, the new role of the United States in the region and the role of Great Britain after Brexit. In the light of all these developments, the perspectives of the Republika Srpska with a clearly defined plan of Serbia should be appreciated in each of the possible scenarios.
The issue of resolving the status of Kosovo and Metohija in light of the proposals made by President Vucic is essential for the security of Serbia. The national security strategy should clearly foresee the scenarios and roles of the most important actors in each of the scenarios.
It is particularly important to evaluate Russia’s capacities to disturb the implementation of President Vucic’s Plan for solving the K&M problem with the help of its agency and propaganda network in Serbia.
Such an analysis must be done using a scientific approach and the methods of social and security sciences (content analysis, scenario analysis, game theory, etc.) instead of a policy alibi approach. The times in which we live do not give a chance to those who “plan” their future in this way.
Part of the text related to the challenges, risks and threats to the Republic of Serbia is in the methodological sense well written, all current threats are listed but without serious analysis of each of them. And this part of the text is full of general places without a concrete attitude on any issue. When it comes to K&M, the vocabulary from the end of the last century is being used, without clear views on the current events and the real threats which the conflict creates. To the list of challenges, risks and threats not much could be deducted or added, but it is necessary that each of the threats is analyzed and the measures which state plans to take to remove them clearly communicated.
There are no major comments on the part of the text concerning national interests, although we think it would be a good idea to consider the relations of national values and national interests, which can be a good basis for a philosophical roundtable. This part of the text is also vague, which is understandable if we have in mind that the previous sections of the text do not give a basis for more precise definitions and taking clearer views on national values and interests.
Part of the text defining the National Security Policy suffers from the same weaknesses as the full text, uncertainty, anachronism and arbitrariness. This part of the text is methodologically correct, the measures implemented by the National Security Policy are logically grouped according to the national interests that are being protected.
In the part that talks about preserving the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Serbia, it speaks of deterring from armed endangerment and effective defense, using the concept of total defense. Furthermore, it does not speak of what this concept implies, nor from what sources would Serbia finance military efforts of the entire society. The preservation of the AP K&M within Serbia is stated as a list of good wishes without a clear position on how to do this, especially considering the current political events related to resolving the status of K&M. Strengthening reputation and preventing separatist aspirations are also referred to as the National Security Policy measures. When it comes to the preservation of sovereignty, it does not mention the activity of a foreign factor through propaganda networks, “patriotic organizations”, organized crime, “sport fans” and other informal groups that seriously undermine the country’s internal sovereignty, impair the reputation of state authorities and try to create political and economic trends in the country.
Maintaining internal stability as an important aspect of national security has also been processed as a series of general areas without clear guidance on who threatens this stability and how to defend it.
The preservation of the Serbian people and national minorities and their cultural, religious and historical identity sounds like a beautiful story without concrete measures to do so, nor pointing out concrete problems that the Serbs in the world and the region face, and in particular there are no words about the problems of national minorities in Serbia.
Maintaining peace and stability in the region and in the world is a very important part of the National Security Policy, but it has been processed superficially and flat without specifying the actors that threaten that peace nor the measures to be taken to preserve peace and stability.
In the part of the Draft relating to the system of national security, there are serious shortcomings. The national security system is reduced to institutional architecture only, which is a reductionist approach that is not accepted in modern security science. The Draft states that the national security system consists of management and executive part. The normative and action part of the system is completely ignored, without which the entire institutional building would be an empty shell unable to function.
In the end, we consider that the National Security Strategy Draft should be rejected in its entirety and to act on a serious draft of the text that will clearly define the future of national security of Serbia, define our strategic environment based on facts that can be a basis for planning, clearly outline the views on every security challenge in front of our state, and openly say how we plan to protect our national interests.