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Belgrade Security Forum: Security Community Building: Bridging the Theoretical-policy Divide

 Belgrade: 20-22 September 2012 

At the opening session of this year BSF Academic Session, academics talked about the reasons of absence of Security Community in the Western Balkans and potential steps for its formation. The panel discussion focused on the practical aspects of building the security community in the Western Balkans, with a focus on the regional cooperation of the police, military, and diplomats. Kenan Dautović started off the panel discussion with his discussion of the military as a security actor in Bosnia, pointing out its key role in security-building as a counterpoint to the same role played by the police in Croatia.

IDM was represented in this important forum with Arjan Dyrmishi (Head of CESA) who presented his paper Senior Researcher who presented his paper on diplomacy and security communities.

The research conducted on officials in the diplomatic sphere was interesting because it is rarely carried out at that level. In order to analyze how their professional understanding is shaped, his research focused on measurable factors such as the recruitment process, diplomatic training, and their posts abroad, among others. Relations between diplomats have progressed, he assesses, however it has happened mostly through broader informal communication since factors such as protocol and territorialism can limit such cooperation. Given that one of the main characteristics of security communities is their ability to solve the problems through means which exclude aggressive and violent actions, this paper focuses on diplomacy as a key element for both the development and the maintenance of a security community. More particularly this study examines the Albanian diplomatic practice in the process of international integration of the Western Balkans. This particular focus is justified by the increasing salience of diplomatic practice as a tool for analyzing international relations on the one hand and the fact that the study of diplomatic practice has never received any scholarly attention in Albania. The paper examines also the evolution of the Albanian diplomatic practice as well as the understanding of the diplomatic profession by the Albanian diplomats. Besides the review and analysis of the relevant literature on the field this study is also based on a range of interviews conducted with serving and former Albanian diplomats.

The panel was attended byDimitar Bechev, who contextualized the processes of modernisation and change happening in the Balkans.

Zrinka Vučinović continued this discussion based on her research with the police in Croatia. She talked about a crucial change in the modernisation of the police force with the development of related laws in Croatia, and followed this with an assessment of the stages Croatia has gone through in increasing its regional police cooperation.

Cvete Koneska continued the discussion of regional police cooperation based on her research on the Macedonian case. Highlighting the wide divide between policy and practice within the police and also amongst security sector institutions, she discussed how differences in the “atmosphere” between political elites and frontline service deliverers, namely their norms, values and habits, can keep the preferred socialisation (i.e. the goal of cooperating between countries) insulated from the lower ranks of police hierarchies.

Sonja Stojanović wrapped up the wider, collective research project on which these researchers participated and discussed further their findings and the intent behind the design of the project. Before posing some poignant questions to the panelists, she highlighted the positive fact that in assessing a cross-section of the security community — with a focus on security professionals — the research has shown that security sector cooperation is actually more advanced than other sectors such as education.