State institutions and security forces co-operate in a hostage rescue exercise.
By Miki Trajkovski for Southeast European Times in Ohrid -- 20/09/13
Macedonian security forces train to rescue hostages in the latest exercise planned for in the country's national anti-terrorism strategy and action plan. [Miki Trajkovski/SETimes]
More than 200 police participated in the terrorism prevention training exercise Seagull 2013 in Ohrid earlier this month.
The exercise is part of the activities of Macedonia's Strategy for Combating Terrorism and an internal affairs ministry's action plan.
Police officials said the goal of the exercise was to train the various security units to free foreign tourists taken hostage on a boat on Lake Ohrid by participants playing the role of Syrian terrorists.
The training included joint air- and water-borne activities by security personnel, negotiation techniques to prevent the terrorists' safe passage to Albania and not allow freeing of radicals from the Idrizovo prison as well as the use of force to free the hostages.
Macedonia's police will continue to conduct such training exercises to assess and maintain readiness, said Internal Affairs Minister Gordana Jankulovska.
"We have to be ready. The [exercise] shows the internal affairs ministry possesses serious capabilities to deal with all challenges that may potentially face us," Jankulovska told SETimes.
Jankulovska said training is necessary because Macedonia and the region cannot ignore new types of security threats.
Awareness of the threats prompted Macedonian security forces to follow the type of training the special police units in developed countries undertake, she said. "[Readiness is] on a particularly high level and they are ready to answer any challenge."
Jankulovska said it is particularly important that regional security co-operation is high.
"No state must allow the situation to develop its capacity only at home. That is why the Macedonian police intensively co-operates with regional countries as well as other friendly countries' services to timely exchange information and appropriately act in case it is needed to protect our statehood or deal with situations not unknown today," Jankulovska said.
The exercise planners tried to make the conditions as close to reality as possible and included in the exercise other state institutions like the Ohrid port authority, the city's firefighting service and the ambulance service.
"Regarding maintaining security on water, all the concerned factors were included such as the internal affairs ministry and the port authority -- in addition to the tourists. We are ensuring all vessels are technically in order," Goran Ustijanoski, captain at the Ohrid port authority, told SETimes.
Terrorist threats and opportunities exist everywhere including in Macedonia, according to Frosina Remenski, professor of security studies at the security Faculty in Skopje.
While the main goal is for the relevant state institutions is to remove the conditions which contribute to religious, ethnic or political radicalisation, the security forces' capacities must continuously be upgraded, she said.
"That is a precondition for detection and early-warning of potential security threats," Remenski said.
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