On 16 December 2020, the Slovenian CEDC presidency hosted the yearly meeting of CEDC ministers of defence. The ministers gathered in person in Postojna, Slovenia, and were joined virtually by the Western Balkan partners for a part of the meeting. The host, minister of defence of the Republic of Slovenia Mr. Matej Tonin, expressed his satisfaction about being able to host the meeting in person as the concluding act of the CEDC 2020 presidency.
During the session conducted in the extended format (CEDC + Western Balkans) the heads of delegations exchanged views on possibilities for an increased inter-regional cooperation, with the view to address common security challenges and deepen the European Union’s Common Security and Defence Policy engagement with the Western Balkan region. Several potential areas for future cooperation were identified, including joint trainings and exercises, educational opportunities, and countering hybrid activities. CEDC countries have expressed strong support for the region’s rapprochement towards the Euro-Atlantic integrations, including through bilateral and regional capacity-building efforts.
In the following session, possibilities for a CEDC contribution to strengthening civil-military cooperation within the EU and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic were discussed. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the need for an increased civil-military cooperation, especially in fields like strategic and medical evacuation. This has a particular effect on members of Armed Forces deployed to missions and operations abroad, and should thus be addressed adequately. In a similar vein, a CEDC Working Group on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic was established. Its work focused on strategic communications and legal aspects of the Armed Forces’ involvement in the COVID-19 response. The heads of delegations acknowledged and adopted the report prepared by the working group.
A joint declaration was also adopted by the CEDC heads of delegations.