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        • Serbia and Hungary: Hammering Democracy
          • Publications

          • Autor: Marko Drajić
          • Serbia and Hungary: Hammering Democracy

          • Hungary is currently Serbia’s closest international partner. Bilateral relations between the two countries are no longer marred by any disputes and their political and economic interests increasingly coincide. The values underpinning the administrations of both countries have converged to ...

        • The Security Sector in a Captured State
          • Publications

          • Autor:
          • The Security Sector in a Captured State

          • Report on state capture in Serbia is BCSP genuine and pioneering work aiming to document and deconstruct ongoing process of state capture in the security sector through presentation of mechanisms, actors and consequences of this process.

        • The Security Sector in the State of Emergency: Testing Democracy
          • Publications

          • Autor: Isidora Stakic, Jelena Pejic Nikic, Katarina Djokic, Marija Ignjatijevic, Sasa Djordjevic
          • The Security Sector in the State of Emergency: Testing Democracy

          • This analysis by the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP) concludes that during the 52 days it spent in a state of emergency, Serbia failed the test of democracy, thanks to a series of failings and irregularities in the conduct and control of the security sector.

        • The Masks Have Slipped: Serbia in a Geopolitical Pandemic
          • Publications

          • Autor: Isidora Stakic, Maja Bjelos, Marko Drajić
          • The Masks Have Slipped: Serbia in a Geopolitical Pandemic

          • Masks have slipped and the interests of Serbia’s foreign policy were exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. These interests are not based on the principles of common goods, but on mechanism for preserving the existing internal order. This is one of the conclusions in the foreign policy analysis ...

        • Crime in the Western Balkans Six at the Time of Coronavirus: Early Findings
          • Publications

          • Autor: Sasa Djordjevic
          • Crime in the Western Balkans Six at the Time of Coronavirus: Early Findings

          • Did organized crime groups continue with their activity at the time of Coronavirus, which trends in the criminal activities in the Western Balkans can be noticed in the first six weeks of the pandemic and which scenarios can be envisaged for the future, analyzed BCSP Researcher Sasa Djordjevic.

        Serbia and Hungary: Hammering DemocracyThe Security Sector in a Captured StateThe Security Sector in the State of Emergency: Testing DemocracyThe Masks Have Slipped: Serbia in a Geopolitical PandemicCrime in the Western Balkans Six at the Time of Coronavirus: Early Findings
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          The development of a new model of relations between society and armed forces in our country has still been only in its initial phase. The list of measures to be done in order to replace the parties-ruling model of civil-military relations by a democratic interaction between security sector and political and civil society is far longer than the list of changes done so far. The new structure of the state union of Serbia and Montenegro, as well as Serbia itself, gives a strong impulse for re-defining the traditional understanding of security and military issues as taboos and domains of high policy exclusively, and for democratisation of civil-military relations with democratic civil control of the army as its key part.

          Therefore, Serbia can less be a source of good examples and better serve as a point of comparison for countries in transition, particularly post-Yugoslav countries, in order to estimate how much have they achieved in the long-term transformation of the relations between the society and the army. Anyway, the Serbian experiences in this sphere can be very useful within the long lasting battle civil society has been fighting for education of the public on the need for democratisation of the civil-military relations, and particularly of the role of media in re-designing traditional dichotomy between the society and defence sector, as well as on the need for the struggle against the authoritarian historic heritage.

          The Serbian experience in changing the relations between the civil society and armed forces show that the desired result of civil-military relations is not pure public trust in the armed forces but public trust based on firm foundations, first of all - on transparency of security and defence policy, of the role and position of the army within the society and of decision-making procedure for the use of armed forces; second, that the media must rely on civil and not only military expertise on military issues when they create a balanced and reliable picture of the army; third, that the promotion of democratic practice and the principle of democratic civil control is a legitimate function of the media which are devoted to public interest; and third, that a more active role of media in security sector reform requires institutional guarantee for media autonomy and greater professionalisation and specialisation of journalists.

          Public trust in the army, which is based mostly on the historic experience in Serbia (crucial role of the army in creating a sovereign state and protecting national identity) and cultural tradition (high value rated to combat and war as means of protecting freedom and independence) is subject to significant fluctuations if not supported by public knowledge about the sources of security risks, the insight into the goals for using armed forces, into professional preparedness of the army to perform its legally determined tasks and into practical results of its actions. During Milošević’s regime, the Army of Yugoslavia tended to keep its traditionally high rating in public by closing in front of the public and by controlling the information flow. As an initial step in promoting the need for the transformation of civil-military relations, the media were creating the public awareness of non-transparency of defence issues, which the public has the right to know. The media published, for example, the questions which military officials had been asked and refused to answer. They pointed to the information on armed forces of other countries, available to the citizens of those countries, which were denied access to the Serbian public when local armed forces are in concern. The data referring to the Army of Yugoslavia, available from foreign and some local sources, were published and great publicity was given to political and civil society activists who asked for abolishing the taboos in defence policy, as well as for depolitisation and deideologisation of the army. The critic questioning of the foundations for the public opinion about the army is a constant task of civil society since the high credibility of the army is the interest of the whole community. Therefore, it is important that the media continue defending and exercising the right to carry out this questioning, as well as to prevent using favourable public rating of the army as an excuse for postponement of changes in civil-military relations.

          The obligation of the media to give accurate, prompt and complete information in refer to armed forces includes the professional responsibility of journalists to balance their depiction of the army, coming from military sources, balance with the information coming from other sources. Relying on autonomous sources of information, knowledge and analyses is considered to be critical point for development of democratic society. In refer to this, the media face difficult task since Serbia, as most transition countries, suffers the general lack of qualified and independent civil expertise on security and defence issues. In the previous regime, the state and independent media created different, even opposite pictures of the Army of Yugoslavia, precisely because the regime media used only official military sources while the independent ones relied on much wider list of sources about army and presented far broader repertoire of diverse opinions. In spite of the lack of civil experts, competent sources of critic opinion can be found among the politicians, in academic circle, among the analysts and researchers of social phenomena, as well as among the experts in non-government organisations specialised for security and defence issues. In order to satisfy the needs of the public, professional journalists have a duty not only to report on the opinions of the easily available official sources but also to search for competent independent sources and to present wide range of relevant opinions. This particularly goes for the media organised up to the public service model.

          The media in public service also should promote the issues of security sector reform and democratisation of civil-military relations as social priorities on public agenda. In recent past, civil-military relations gained importance only in the crisis situation or on the occasions of political affairs, launched by the main confronted sides in Serbia, within their fight to gain public affection. Discussions of the relations between the society and the army during crisis situations and in the light of an affair bring several negative consequences. A complex range of civil-military relations is being reduced to only one aspect, important in a given situation, public debates are usually prevailingly emotional and not rational and they are pointed to short-term solutions instead of to long-term and rational ones. Several affairs in the recent political life in Serbia demonstrated how unsolved are the relations between the army and civil sector - alleged wire-tapping of the Yugoslav President and alleged plan for military action in the Serbian government Information Bureau, espionage affair connected with the former chief of General Staff Momčilo Perišić, the affair of selling weapons to Iraq. All informative media paid much attention to each of these topics while there was enough political interest to keep them important. However, most media stopped reporting on this subjects when political interest in them was reduced although none of these controversial issues was not completely solved.

          It is the nature of media to shift the attention from one event or subject to other news. However, keeping the public attention locked with the issues of the public interest is a legitimate task of the media in public service. It takes the professional decision to place a subject as a priority and to report on it constantly, as well as to develop a public debate about it, in order to find a solution which is optimal for the community. Among Serbian informative media nowadays there are much more similarities than differences and the media differ mostly according to their treatment of the issue of responsibility for war crimes and of reconciliation after the conflicts that took place in 90s. Although there is no political will to make these issues public priorities, a number of media, as well as some parts of civil society, make conscious efforts to stimulate the public interest in these issues and make an important forum for the public debate about these issues. Similarly - with the planned professional commitment - the media should stimulate the legitimate civil interest in optimal structure of security and defence sector and in establishing democratic civil control of the army and other armed forces - police, secret services and para-police forces. This way, the media will help developing the culture of public responsibility of the army. It is necessary, before that, that the concept of democratic civil control of the armed forces is accepted by the journalists as a democratic achievement of the society and as a part of their professional knowledge. 

        • Tags: media, army, military, civil-military relations, Serbia, civil society, armed forces, democracy, public, democratic control
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