Authorities from the Region Enhance Knowledge of Weapons and Ammunition Management

Nearly 30 representatives of authorities and international organisations involved in physical security and stockpile management (PSSM) of conventional weapons and ammunition from the Western Balkans and Moldova gathered for the Regional Workshop on Weapons and Ammunition Management organised in Skopje on 27-28 September 2023. It is the second regional workshop for building capacities of personnel tasked with managing stockpiles organised by SEESAC within the framework of the European Union Council Decision (CFSP) 2019/2111.

Mr. Vladimir Anchev, State Secretary in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of North Macedonia, Mr. Ben Nupnau, Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation to North Macedonia, and Mr. Shenasi Iseni, Senior Political Advisor of the Regional Cooperation Council, spoke at the Opening Session.

In his address, Mr. Anchev stressed the importance of weapons and ammunition management and regional cooperation in combating the illegal trafficking of weapons. He drew attention to risks related to inadequate stockpile management, the threat of illegal weapons proliferation in conflicts in the region, and increased firearms circulation in the proximity of war-affected areas. He emphasised the national authorities’ dedication to undertaking all measures for strengthened stockpile management. Mr. Anchev called for the continuation of work in this area and expressed appreciation to SEESAC for promoting cooperation in support of increased regional security.

Mr. Nupnau welcomed the organisation of the workshop in support of the increased safety and security of the region. He noted that inadequate storage of weapons provides an opportunity for organised crime to gain access to illegal possession of weapons. He thanked SEESAC for contributing to enhanced regional cooperation, stockpile management, and strengthening institutional capacities. Mr. Nupnau concluded by expressing the EU’s support for the SALW Control Roadmap process as the key regional mechanism contributing to a sustainable solution to SALW misuse and proliferation.

Mr. Iseni noted that the event, gathering weapons and ammunition management experts, will contribute to increased security and stability of the region. As such, he reiterated the Regional Cooperation Council’s support in encouraging such exchanges of information, good practices and experience in the region.

To review the PSSM developments since the last regional workshop held in Podgorica in June 2022, the participants shared and discussed the progress updates, priorities, challenges and needs related to security and safety of weapons and ammunition storages, disposal of surpluses, and ammunition surveillance in their jurisdictions.

An overview of gender aspects and new developments, including a new UN self-assessment toolset for ammunition management capabilities in line with IATG, an update of NATO standards for storage and transport, practical experience in the use of drones in PSSM, and comprehensive insights of the new global framework for through-life conventional ammunition management and opportunities for its implementation in the Western Balkans, were presented.

To provide the participants with a first-hand experience of an important phase related to the life cycle management of ammunition, a field visit to the ATS Ammunition production facility in Makedonski Brod was organised in cooperation with the Ministry of Defence in North Macedonia, including observing the process of small arms ammunition production, testing, packaging and oversight.

This workshop was organised with support provided through the EU Council Decision 2019/2111 in support of arms control activities in South East Europe, therefore reinforcing the commitment by the region to combat illicit trafficking and possession of firearms.