Balkan interior ministers have gathered at a two-day regional conference in Tirana to discuss cooperation in handling border security and responses to transnational crime.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the all the countries in the region and several EU delegations, as well as Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha.
Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic said at the opening of the ministerial gathering that good cooperation between countries in the region is necessary to combat corruption and organised crime.
Addressing the conference participants, Dacic stressed that close collaboration between ministries, prosecutors’ offices and judicial organs in the region is crucial.
“I am certain that despite political differences we will be able to establish good cooperation to ensure regional security,” Dacic said.
The conference, which is the 7th annual ministerial conference on cooperation in border safety in South Eastern Europe, is being held in Tirana on March 4 and 5, under the auspices of the Spanish EU presidency. Participants include ministers from the region and representatives of international organisations, including the European Commission, Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE, Conflict Prevention Centre, and others.
Albanian Interior Minister Lulzim Basha opened the conference by saying that “the goal is to have borders which everyone can cross, but those borders must be controlled and must not allow passage to international crime.”
“The best example of interethnic cooperation in the region is actually our archenemy – organised crime,” said Basha, adding that: “We should work together to address this joint challenge, despite the different positions that Tirana, Belgrade or other countries in the region have on political issues.”
According to Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha, the border issue is both a great responsibility and an obligation to international partners.
“Organised crime in Albania has been very widespread in the last few years and it has huge economic power,” Berisha said.
He added that the Albanian government is completely committed to the fight against crime and that their efforts are producing results, noting that over 1000 members and leaders of organised crime groups have been arrested so far.