Study Visit – DG-ECHO Montenegro FSX Project BALANCE

September 16, 2021
Christos Dimopoulos

Mr. Evangelos Katsaros, CERIDES Research Associate and Project Manager of the BALANCE project, together with Dr. Christos Dimopoulos, CERIDES co-Director and Scientific Manager of the BALANCE project, participated in the project’s Exercise Study Visit, which took place between the 6th and 8th September 2021 in Montenegro.

The aim of the study visit was to create a common picture and understanding of the actual needs and challenges of the Exercise, avoiding misunderstandings and mistakes in planning. In particular, it provided participants with the opportunity to gain a first-hand experience of the exercise sites and their special characteristics. It also allowed them to discuss and exchange views with local stakeholders about the implementation of the FSX.

The Study Visit was organised and implemented in an excellent manner by the Ministry of Interior of Montenegro. Participants from all project partners had the opportunity to visit all Exercise sites in the Kotor Bay Area, situated in the towns of Kotor, Tivat, and Herceg Novi, according to the Exercise Scenario.

They also had the opportunity to meet the Mayors and Deputy-Mayors of Kotor, Tivat and Herzeg Novi, who expressed their firm support to the implementation of the BALANCE FSX. The Study Visit also included visits to the Rescue and Protection Services of the Exercise towns, to the Habitat and Rehabilitation Resource Center for Children with Hearing and Speech Disorders, to the Red Cross of Montenegro, and to the Rescue and Protection Directorate of Montenegro in Podgorica.

It should also be noted that researchers from the National Observatory of Athens, Greece visited the Institute of Hydrometeorology and Seismology in Podgorica and discussed with their colleagues the optimisation of the earthquake scenario which will ‘drive‘ the implementation of the FSX.

The Montenegrin Ministry of Interior Team, headed by Ms. Zorica Markovic, Head of Department for Coordination of International Assistance, Cooperation and Project implementation, Directorate for Emergency Management, and Mr. Milan Radovic, Head of Training and Operations Dept, Directorate for Emergency Management, showcased the initial plans for the injects, as these will take place at the actual exercise field sites. The project participants were impressed by the initial plans, and provided their ideas for possible further improvements. These plans will be discussed and finalised during the upcoming 2nd Planning Conference of the BALANCE project.

The BALANCE FSX project is funded by the Directorate-General (DG) for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations – (ECHO), through the Union Civil Protection Mechanism (Call: UCPM-2020-EX-AG). CERIDES acts as the Coordinating Organisation for this project. The BALANCE project aims is to improve Civil Protection Preparedness and Response capabilities of Montenegro in dealing with large disasters that require joint response coordination facilitated via the Union Civil Protection Mechanism.

Western Balkans countries can be slowed down in joining the EU due to a huge earthquake because it will have significant economic, social and political impact to country and regional development. Thus, sharing capacities and resources, scientific support decision making, use of proven innovative tools, and joint training will lead to improvement of cross border cooperation procedures of the Mechanism. The BALANCE Consortium comprises of academic and civil protection organisations from the countries of Montenegro, Croatia, Albania, Cyprus, Greece, Bulgaria, Italy and Spain.

The CERIDES Team responsible for the management, coordination, and implementation of the BALANCE project, comprises of the following scientists:

Mr. Evangelos Katsaros (Project Manager)

Dr. Christos Dimopoulos (Scientific Manager)

Professor George Boustras (Scientific Advisor)