10th Annual Ministerial Review Conference on Border Security in Southeast Europe
Opatija, Croatia - The 10th Annual Ministerial Review Conference on Border Security in Southeast Europe between 9–10 April 2014 in Opatija, Croatia, was hosted by the Croatian Ministry of the Interior and organised by DCAF Ljubljana. It was held back-to-back with two other events hosted by Croatia on the previous two days – namely the Ministerial Conference on Contemporary Challenges in Regional Police Cooperation organised by Switzerland and Croatia, and the 11th PCC SEE Committee of Ministers organised by the PCC SEE Secretariat.
It was attended by ministers of the interior/security and other high representatives of the DCAF beneficiary countries Albania, BiH, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, donor countries Croatia and Slovenia, observer countries Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, Switzerland, the Office of the EU Special Representative in BiH, EU agencies Cepol and Europol, ICMPD, IOM, MARRI Regional Centre, OSCE, Office of the High Representative in Sarajevo, RACVIAC, RCC, USDOJ-ICITAP, and DCAF.
Opening addresses were delivered by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Ranko Ostojić, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior of the Republic of Slovenia Gregor Virant, and Amb Dr Theodor H. Winkler, Director of DCAF Geneva. Progress achieved since the restructuring of the DCAF Border Security Programme in early 2012 was reviewed in the 1st session, which was chaired by Mr Ivica Dačić, Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior of the Republic of Serbia. Mr Anton Travner, Director of DCAF Ljubljana, and Head of the DCAF Border Security Programme, presented on the achievements under all Programme components through 2012–2013.
National statements emphasised the essential role of regional cooperation and the Programme's successfully evolved operational component, where significant operational results were achieved in region-wide cross-border operations aimed to tackle cross-border crime and illegal migration. Presentations by the border police chiefs of the beneficiary countries revealed that crucial progress has been achieved in the last years on national as well as regional level.
Minister Dačić emphasised the meaning of the future regional agreement to enable joint return flight operations as an important priority, where solutions should be sought to do away with any difficulties that any countries may have regarding the signing of the jointly prepared multi-lateral agreement. The 2nd session was devoted to discussions on the future steps in the Programme, where it was decided that a new common guiding action plan is to be prepared by the border police chiefs for the endorsement at the next ministerial conference. It is to replace the current multi-annual Regional Action Plan 2012–2015 after its expiry, and provide for further commonly-held tasks for the realisation of the newly adopted goals.
In view of ensuring the long-term sustainability of modern border systems in the Western Balkan region and mutual sharing of responsibility in this process, the ministers agreed to work on greater interoperability of border systems in the area of information exchange, including personal data; seeking and enacting economic solutions towards the harmonisation of use and common procurement of equipment, common infrastructural facilities, establishment of common crossing points; as well as the establishment of common centres for cooperation in the area of border management in the Western Balkan region.
The beneficiary countries thanked Croatia and Slovenia for their assistance in the Programme implementation by offerring expertise and support, as well as DCAF and the EU, international and state donors represented at the conference for their contributions in the area of ensuring efficient and integrated border management in the Western Balkan region.