International foundation assists the Balkans against organised crime

05/05/2014

Macedonia will co-operate with an international non-governmental organisation to prevent and fight organised crime.

By Klaudija Lutovska for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 05/05/14

photo

Maria Falcone (left), president of the Falcone Foundation, and Gordana Jankulovska, internal affairs minister of Macedonia, sign an agreement of co-operation. [Ministry of Internal Affairs of Macedonia]

Macedonia signed a co-operation agreement with the Italian-based Falcone Foundation last month to work with judiciary and law enforcement agencies on educating youths about the importance of fighting organised crime.

"We are beginning this co-operation dedicated to an exceptionally serious subject ... one of the greatest global threats we face today," said Macedonia internal affairs minister Gordana Jankulovska.

The foundation is named after the Italian judge Giovanni Falcone -- and his wife Francesca -- who was renowned for successfully prosecuting hundreds of Italian mafia members. Judge Falcone was assassinated in 1980.

The EU has supported the foundation's projects to engage institutions and youths from dozens of countries, including Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, and Romania.

"The agreement with the internal affairs ministry of Macedonia is the first of this type. We are very happy that we start in Macedonia and believe the rest of the Balkan countries will follow her example. The most important thing is to have a common goal," Maria Falcone, foundation president and sister of Giovanni Falcone, told SETimes.

Security experts said signing the agreement will greatly assist Macedonian law enforcement agencies.

"The fight against organised crime demands expertise, application of modern means and knowledge, dedication and sacrifices, but above all application of special prosecutorial measures," said Dusko Stojanovski, a criminologist at the University American College in Skopje.

Falcone said effective techniques and prevention are necessary because organised crime now uses expensive criminal manoeuvres as well as murders to evade justice, and in the process is destroying all cells of modern society.

"At play is the 'phoenix' phenomenon that the Italian mafia has used to regenerate itself regardless of the degree of law enforcement's destruction of their murky deals or the arrests of its members," Falcone said.

But Falcone said the foundation's focus was, and still is preventative by working on educating young people.

"We have included in our projects many youths from different Balkan countries, and they are actively supporting the foundation. The result is that they now spread the anti-mafia spirit and movement in theirs countries," Falcone said.

In the past two years, the EU has financed three foundation projects focusing on youth. The EU selected the foundation's Waves of Legality project as being among the 25 best practices in 2012 that are part of the Union's Europe for Citizens programme.

The foundation will also assist Macedonia through the Strategic Partnership against Crime through Social Inclusion of Youth project, which is in the process of being accepted by the EU, said Elmas Hasanovic, a member of Macedonia President Gjorge Ivanov's cabinet.

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"Four other EU counties from outside the Balkans are also included in the project," Hasanovic told SETimes.

Falcone said the foundation plans to give active support to all interested governmental and non-governmental organisations.

"Our point of view is that in this fight against organised crime should be included everyone who wants to give their own contribution. Judge Falcone once said 'you cannot fight the mafia only through repression ... you should [also] work on prevention.' So, the foundation will work on prevention to give a special approach to fighting this evil," she said.

What else can Macedonia and the Balkan countries do to more effectively fight organised crime? Share your opinion in the comments space.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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