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Defence Cooperation Initiative expands with North Macedonia

Text: HDF General Staff Strategic Communication Directorate |  11:13 October 6, 2023

This year, Croatia hosted the 11th CHODs’ Meeting of the Defence Cooperation Initiative (DECI) between 3–4 October. Organized for the 11th time, the meeting held in Zagreb saw a new member, North Macedonia joining the Italy-led cooperation initiative that now brings together eight countries.

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Eleven years ago, the military leaders of Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, and Slovenia decided, in the interest of their collective security, to strengthen the system of defence cooperation and implement it in an institutional form. The enlargement process started with Albania in 2016, and continued with Montenegro in 2017. This year, the DECI expanded with the accession of North Macedonia. The DECI countries see the future and the way to support military cooperation with NATO and the EU in regional collaboration as a response to the security challenges of the age, in the interest of the stability of the Adriatic and the Balkan regions.

At the meeting, Hungary was represented by Deputy Chief of Defence Major General Ferenc Kajári. The military leaders present evaluated the preparation of the DECI-based EU Battle Group for its standby period, which may also be considered the “flagship” of cooperation. They signed a joint statement to the effect that they see the solution to the security challenges affecting the region – the Russo-Ukrainian War, migration, trafficking –in the Euro-Atlantic integration of the Balkans, as well as in the stability of the North African region and the Sahel.

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Harmonizing NATO and EU defence capabilities and sharing the burden of developments may contribute to the more efficient use of resources, and therefore the initiative is continuously seeking the possibilities for providing support to allied and EU military capabilities as a form of regional cooperation. The members also agreed that instead of being antithetical to the EU and NATO, the members of the initiative – as nations representing shared values – intend to be a contribution to the success of the two organizations that knows and represents the values of the region. As a token of their commitment to the Euro-Atlantic integration of the Balkans, the DECI members continue to uphold the principle of “open door policy” in receiving applications for membership from countries of the Adriatic and the Balkan regions.