Regional co-operation on organised crime necessary, analysts say

05/12/2012

The countries from the Western Balkans should form a joint Balkan police force, similar to Interpol, to strengthen the fight against organised crime, analysts say.

By Miki Trajkovski for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 05/12/12

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Police units from Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo held a joint exercise last week at Lake Ohrid. [Miki Trajkovski/SETimes]

The countries from the Balkans need to strengthen their co-operation against organised crime, drug and human trafficking, experts said.

Marjan Nikolovski, a professor and the head of the organised crime department at the Faculty of Security in Skopje, told SETimes that a major problem for the region are the illegal crossings between the countries, which are used for trade in arms, drugs, immigrants and people.

"Those channels are characteristic towards Albania and Kosovo, where the state border is not sufficiently provided from their side. Characteristic are the channels toward Serbia also, where the last smuggling of immigrants happened. But with successful co-operation of the Macedonian and Serbian governments, the case was solved," Nikolovski said.

At Lake Ohrid last week, an exercise was held to identify the weak points of joint co-operation.

The exercise, which included 150 members of special police units from Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania, was monitored by Austrian police, and is part of the International Exchange Unit of the International Law Enforcement Co-operation Units (ILECUs).

"The benefit of the membership in ILECUS is that a faster exchange of information between the countries in the region will be enabled, and this will provide speed to deal with organised crime," Aleksandar Jovanov, head of the Macedonia Internal Affairs Ministry's international police co-operation department, told SETimes.

The exercise focused on combating cross-border crime, kidnapping and illegal drug trafficking.

"Everything that is happening in Europe, Asia and Africa, the Arab countries also, reflects on the region," Veton Elsani, director of the department of the Kosovo police international co-operation, told SETimes during the exercise.

"We, together with Greece, most feel what is happening in the Arab countries, Asia, Africa. Because of globalization, the problems spread faster here than in Western Europe. The main problem for the region is drug trafficking, prostitution and human trafficking. All the countries of former Yugoslavia have a high level of co-operation although there is space for improvement," he said.

Macedonia and Kosovo are part of the European centre for drug transit. More than 50 tonnes of narcotics move through trafficking channels in the centre on a daily basis, and it is assumed that around 5 billion dollars are money laundered per year, Stefan Budzakoski, professor of organised crime at FON University, told SETimes.

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According to Budzakoski, the countries in the region should pay attention to the so-called Balkan drug route and form Balkanpol, an organisation similar to Interpol.

"We are talking about Balkanpol or Balkan police which will unite all the police against the fight of severe forms of crime among which the organs trafficking which are still unfamiliar to us," Budzakoski said.

Macedonia, Kosovo, and Albania can replicate the Baltic model of regional access in the fight against organised crime, Marjan Gurovski, professor at the faculty of security in Skopje, said.

"Conditions of a joint database of the three ministries can be provided, with a goal for more efficient dealing with risks, crime and threats to security and stability in the region," Gurovski told SETimes.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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