Balkan countries strengthen airport border security

12/12/2013

Co-operation among airport border police in the region is gaining momentum.

By Klaudija Lutovska for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 12/12/13

photo

Trpe Stojanovski (left), director of the Migration, Asylum, Refugees Regional Initiative (MARRI) regional centre in Skopje, announces the new regional airport border police website. [Facebook]

A new secure website used by airport border police in the region will enable more effective exchange of information and significantly strengthen airport security, officials said.

The website is part of the Bordairpol project by the Migration, Asylum, Refugees Regional Initiative (MARRI) to help Balkan countries address threats arising from illegal migration, organised crime and terrorism.

Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia are members of the initiative, formed in 2003 and operating through a regional forum -- its executive arm -- and a regional centre based in Skopje that implements the forum's decisions.

Representatives of five international airports tested the website for five months prior to putting it to use.

"One of the basic preconditions for successful border control work is to acquire information in a timely manner and to be able to react appropriately. Modern trends in illegal migration and organised crime require modern methods to secure state borders," Gordana Jankulovska, internal affairs minister of Macedonia, told SETimes.

Officials said the website will allow the border police forces to generate and quickly exchange information on illegal migration, organised crime and terrorism, conduct real-time security overviews and assessments.

The Initiative decided to create the website based on the stated needs by the border police chiefs, said Trpe Stojanovski, director of the MARRI regional centre in Skopje.

"For the first time such a website is created within the framework of the regional initiatives. It will be maintained, used and controlled by the border police commanders in the region," Stojanovski told SETimes.

Stojanovski said an evaluation of the extent to which airport border police improved their efficiency may be conducted in the next phase of the Bordairpol project.

The joint website will be a useful tool, specifically designed to enhance the initiative's police co-operation network, said Blagoja Markovski, president of the Balkan Security Forum in Skopje.

"But the website is one aspect of the Bordairpol project, whose impact should be viewed as a whole. Equally important are the MARRI regional centre's annual [security] assessment meetings and joint border police training," Markovski told SETimes.

Officials also said the initiative's priority is to strengthen regional police co-operation as part of its members' EU integration.

"What was achieved in the past year provides the basis to claim that BiH, and all MARRI member states, are the best example of how European standards have their place in our system of security. The initiative ... is an instrument though which we exchange best practices to achieve European standards, enabling the citizens in the region a faster and more efficient path to EU membership," said Fahrudin Radoncic, internal affairs minister of BiH.

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The initiative's regional forum meets bi-annually and has a rotating presidency. BiH is presiding in the 2012-13 period, while Croatia will assume the presidency in 2014.

In addition to participating in the Bordairpol project, BiH did much on managing migration and asylum policies and harmonising them with the EU standards during its presidency.

"We created a reporting instrument according to EU standards," Radoncic said.

What can the Balkan countries do to strengthen airport security? Share your opinion in the comments space.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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