Balkan countries join forces in fight against crime

11/04/2014

A new police centre joins BiH, Serbia and Montenegro to boost co-operation and regional security.

By Mladen Dragojlovic for Southeast European Times in Banja Luka -- 11/04/14

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Border police from BiH, Serbia and Montenegro will work together at the new border centre. [AFP]

In an effort to strengthen their resources against cross-border crime, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Serbia and Montenegro have opened a centre to facilitate co-operation between the three countries' border police forces.

The centre, which opened in Trebinje, BiH, on March 24th, will have three officers from each country working together to handle information on suspicious activities in the countries. They will be delegated by border police, but will be able to contact other police agencies in their countries.

The International Organisation for Migration said the joint initiative was established as part of the Police Co-operation Project, which is financially supported by the UK and the organisation's development fund.

Trebinje was selected as the headquarters for the centre because it sits on one of the most important drug paths from Albania, through Montenegro and BiH to Western Europe. In the past, BiH border police have discovered large shipments of marijuana and heroin on the border with Montenegro.

"Organised crime, threats of terrorism, smuggling drugs, goods, weapon and people over borders are a serious threat to this region. However, open borders are a precondition for international trade, tourism and cultural exchange. With close regional co-operation, we will make our borders open but safe," Vesko Vukadinovic, deputy director of the Montenegro border police, said at the centre's opening ceremony.

According to Vinko Dumancic, the BiH border police director, the presence of three officers in one place will simplify the flow of information between countries and avoid complicated procedures in interstate communication.

"Each of these officers will have access to their state data base, and at the moment something happens he can inform his colleagues from other countries. The time for reaction will be very short," Dumancic told SETimes.

Dragomir Keserovic, dean of the Faculty for Security and Protection in Banja Luka, told SETimes the centre will improve co-operation and help to make regional borders safer.

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"This tripartite centre will improve security in region. Co-operation is at an operational level and officers will be available for direct contact at one place," Keserovic said.

Officials praised the initiative as well.

"There are no 'our' and 'others' criminal groups. These groups are made up of citizens from almost all the countries in the region, and they cause damage to all of us together," Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said after signing the agreement for the centre in December.

How else can co-operation help foster regional security? In the comments section below, share what steps you think your country should take.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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