Pandemic, W Balkans in focus of CEDC ministerial

Postojna – The experiences of individual armies in helping to fight the Covid-19 epidemic and the strengthening of cooperation with countries in the Western Balkans were in the focus of a two-day meeting of the Central European Defence Cooperation (CEDC), an initiative chaired this year by Slovenia, that ended in Postojna on Wednesday.

Slovenian Defence Minister Matej Tonin and his Hungarian counterpart Tibor Benko expressed support for the long-term stability of the Western Balkans as they addressed the press after the meeting.

Tonin said this could be achieved with EU and NATO membership of countries in the region, while Benko said a coordinated approach to peace and stability in Western Balkans was needed.

Benko noted that NATO faced threats from the east and south, adding that all problems could be resolved in negotiations.

According to Tonin, there is support in the CEDC for concerted action by Central European countries in the EU and the common European security policy.

He said Slovenia’s priorities included civilian-military cooperation, women, peace and security, and the strengthening of regional cooperation with the Western Balkans.

Representatives of Western Balkan countries also took part in the first part of the meeting, with talks focusing in potential cooperation, the Ministry of Defence said in a press release after the event.

Tonin moreover proposed that countries jointly evaluate possible improvements in medical evacuations from international missions, the press release said, also adding that Slovenia had set up a website for the initiative which would be operated by each presiding country.

The meeting wraps up Slovenia’s chairmanship of the initiative, with Croatia taking over next year.

According to Tonin, Slovenia will pursue similar goals when it takes over the rotating presidency of the EU in the second half of 2021.

The CEDC was created in 2010 as a military collaboration format and features Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia and Slovakia.