SC141 Continues Field Study 3 to Montenegro
Senior Course 141 continued its third Field Study with a visit to Montenegro on 13 December 2022.
Upon arrival, the NDC delegation was welcomed by Col. Željco Radolović, Deputy Chief of Defence of the Armed Forces of Montenegro (AFM), who welcomed Course Members with a warm reception.
On the first official day of briefings, Mr Krsto Perović, PhD, State Secretary from the Ministry of Defence made welcome remarks and thanked the NDC and the Commandant for their presence in Montenegro. In his speech, Mr Perović underscored that Montenegro strongly condemns Russia’s “brutal and unprovoked aggression” against Ukraine, and that his country would continue sustaining its efforts to support and show solidarity to the people of Ukraine.
The next briefer was Col. Aleksandar Pantović, Military Advisor to the Minister of Defence.
He spoke of the challenges Montenegro is dealing with: COVID-19 consequences, Afghanistan, hybrid threats, and in particular, the cyber-attacks which recently affected the country.
He then spoke of NATO membership, underlining Montenegro’s contribution in the last 5 years, concluding with comments on Montenegro’s ambition to join the EU and how important a step forward this is for his country. A Q&A session followed the presentation.
Afterwards, Mr Miroslav Sćepanović, State Secretary from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who has also served in the Italian Embassy of Montenegro, offered words of welcome to the NDC delegation. Since the country’s accession to NATO in 2017, the next priority is to join the EU. With regards to the war in Ukraine, Mr Sćepanović also spoke of the support Montenegro is giving to the country. At the end of his speech, he answered questions from Course Members on China’s influence in the Balkan region, migration, illegal trade and EU membership.
During the coffee break, the Commandant of NATO Defense College, LGEN Olivier Rittimann, was received at the Ministry of Defence for an office call with Brigadier General Zoran Lazarević, Chief of Defence of the Armed Forces of Montenegro.
Mr Dejan Boljević, Head of the Division for International Operative Police Cooperation, INTERPOL (International Criminal Police Organization), EUROPOL (European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation), SIRENE (Supplementary Information Request at the National Entries), from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, presented a briefing on “Defence and Security Challenges in Montenegro and the Region”, giving an overview of the main organized crime activities in the area.
Smuggling (weapon, narcotics, excise goods, etc.), illegal migration and human trafficking, money laundering, terrorism and religious extremism, cyber-crimes and corruption can be considered the main threats which Montenegro is working to counter. Mr Boljević pointed out that cyber-attacks, the number of which is not expected to decline in the near future, strongly affect the region and cause many problems to critical infrastructure.
The briefer concluded his presentation by affirming that that Montenegro cooperates with international platforms (INTERPOL, EUROPOL and SIRENE) on a daily basis in the fight against international organized crime. The session was followed by a Q&A session.
At the end of the briefing, NDC delegation travelled to the national parliament and was welcomed by the Security and Defense Committee, whose members are Mr Dragan Krapović, Mr Ivan Brajović, Mr Dragan Ivanović, Mr Vladan Raicević and Mr Danilo Saranović, Head of the Permanent Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
Mr Krapović started his welcome remarks by thanking the NDC for its visit to Montenegro. He then gave an overview of the Defence Committee, its organization, composition, and how it works.
Mr Krapović then talked about cyber security and budget expenditures, and the reform process underway which Montenegro is conducting in order to join the EU.
During the Q&A, Course Members asked pointed questions on cooperation, Chinese influence in the Defense Military sector in Montenegro, and how being part of NATO influences the country’s relationship with its neighbors, and Serbia in particular.
The last briefing of the day was presented by LCDR Saša Čepić, Head of International Military Cooperation Branch, J-5 Department of the Montenegro Armed Forces.
LCDR Saša Čepić gave an overview of the structure of Armed Forces and location of the main Commands. He then focused on participation in EU, UN and NATO international Mission and Operations; its contribution to NATO Command/Force Structure; and an overview of exercises planned for 2023.
LCDR Saša Čepić concluded his presentation by emphasizing how budget expenditures are expected to increase from 1.33% of GDP in 2019 to 2% for 2023, 2024, 2025 and 2026, which will allow for the military modernization process of the Armed Forces.
The Q&A session ended the academic part of the visit.
After lunch, the NDC delegation moved to the ancient city of Kotor (World Heritage List of UNESCO) for a very enriching cultural visit, thereby concluding the Montenegro leg of Field Study 3.