The document before you is the Balkan Defence Monitor

– a pilot report on defence sectors in the six Balkans countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia), covering five areas: defence expenditures, strategic documents, international military cooperation, women in the defence system, and transparency in the defence sector.

The idea behind the Balkan Defence Monitor is to launch an independent, comprehensive and credible source of information on defence sectors, policies and related issues in the Balkans. The main aim is to try to tackle the lack of information in this field and provide a fact-based alternative to current narratives in the Balkans region.

Defence topics are often politicised and misused, and frequently serve as a basis for toxic and belligerent rhetorics in the Balkans region. Fake news, misinterpreted or malevolent information about armament, military expenditure or international military cooperation often circulate in the media in the region. Irresponsible politicians and government officials frequently flex with statements about armament or point fingers to neighbours just to score easy political points. The arms race between Croatia and Serbia, Russia arming Serbia, the West using NATO members in the region and the destabilisation of Bosnia and Herzegovina are regular topics among the unverified and out-of-context information in the field of defence that disturb the already fragile regional relations.


With the Russian invasion on Ukraine, geopolitical realms drammatically changed and defence is back on the agenda. Many European countries are already increasing their military budgets. NATO as a collective defence mechanism is evolving before our eyes, and greater EU defence integration is likely in the future. The Balkans region will inevitably be influenced by these changes; defence reforms and military cooperation will be talked about.

These new circumstances have demonstrated the need for credible and independent information about defence issues in the Balkans, to provide space for evidence and fact-based debate on defence and security. Through yearly updates and inclusion of new areas of research, Balkan Defence Monitor will also aim to map capabilities and possibilities for greater defence and security cooperation in the region.