Bulgaria, Serbia agree to more police, customs cooperation

The fight against organized crime dominated the discussions between the leaders of Bulgaria and Serbia on Monday, as the Bulgarian delegation headed by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov is on an official visit to Belgrade.

The two ministers of interior, Ivica Dacic of Serbia and Tzvetan Tsvetanov of Bulgaria signed an agreement for the creation of a joint contact center where police and customs officials in the two Balkan countries will share information in the battle against cross border organized crime.

“The document signed today should give us additional tools to something important for the whole region, and that is the fight against organized crime,” Serbian Prime Minister Cvetkovic said at a joint press conference with Borisov.

“Our goal is to share information in real time and thus lead a more effective fight against drug and cigarette smuggling, trafficking, and organized crime,” said Borisov.

Serbian President Boris Tadic called the struggle “one of the most common goals” of the two countries.

Borisov and Cvetkovic reportedly touched on a number of themes ranging from the improvement of trade relations and the collective European future of the region to the construction of power plants on the Danube River and the proposed construction of the Belene nuclear power plant in Bulgaria.

Nonetheless, the Serbian president was critical of Bulgaria’s position on Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence and the efforts Bulgaria has made to promote the interests of the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo internationally. Sofia has recognized Kosovo diplomatically, while Serbia is challenging the legality of the declaration of its southern province before the International Court of Justice.

Tadic urged Bulgaria to exhibit “greater restraint” with respect to the issue of Kosovo.

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