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Disasters Know No Borders

The Session Regional Prospects of the Joint Crisis Intervention focused on prevention and crisis management in emergency situations and examined possibilities of regional cooperation in those respects. There is evident lack of political responsibility for tragic consequences of disasters. Governments should pay more attention and resources to prevention and reaction in cases of emergency. Regional mindset should be reformed, so that societies could also become part of the solution.

A starting point of this discussion was the impossibility to predict emergencies in a long term, such as floods that have hit the Balkan region earlier this year. National and regional agencies have a very brief time to evaluate the situation and consequences. This is to conclude that more efforts and resources have to be put in the development of prevention mechanisms. Generally, national budget for disaster management is being gradually being cut in all countries of the Western Balkans region.

Civil education is another major problem, having in mind that people still were not entirely aware of the importance of following the protocol before emergencies happen. Thus, rising of social awareness of these issues should be one of the main tasks of national governments.

Panelists agreed that academia and civil society organizations, not forgetting media should be included in prevention phase, as well as the disaster response. Media proved to be uninterested in educating public and building population resilience; however being very active in reporting on disasters when they happen.

In the regional scene, cooperation between countries is crucial. EU common approach to disaster management would be difficult to apply in the Western Balkans without taking into account regional specificities. Therefore, the region sought for genuine regional organisation. The Sava River Basin Commission and the Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Initiative for SEE represent such initiatives.

Cooperation on the professional level in the region functions much better and faster than on the political level. Technical difficulties also affect the reaction in crisis moments. Firstly, the lack of proper infrastructure touches on the capabilities of agencies to respond when needed.

  • Predrag Marić‚ Assistant Minister and Head of Emergency Management Sector, Ministry of Interior, Government of the Republic of Serbia
  • Ivana Ljubojević‚ Head of Secretariat, Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Initiative for South Eastern Europe
  • Želimir Kešetović‚ Professor, Faculty of Security Studies, University of Belgrade
  • Dejan Komatina‚ Secretary, International Sava River Basin Commission‚
  • Zoran Stanojević‚ News Editor, Radio Television of Serbia, RTS (Moderator)