Southeast European countries join forces against crime, terrorism

photo21.jpgPresidents of the Southeast European countries adopted a declaration Monday (October 16th) pledging co-operation in the fight against organised crime and terrorism. The move came during a meeting at the Serbian military complex of Karadjordjevo, hosted by Serbian President Boris Tadic.

The declaration calls for developing the capabilities of intelligence services, the police and the judiciary, enabling them to collaborate and exchange information. The signatories agreed to work towards an agreement on police co-operation, and to establish and develop links with the EU bodies in charge of fighting organised crime and terrorism, as well as with NATO.

Moreover, the presidents agreed to hold a permanent dialogue at the presidential or government level, to organise ministerial-level meetings at least once a year, and to maintain constant co-operation among experts.

The presidents of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania and Serbia all signed the declaration, as did envoys of Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov, who was unable to attend.

Summit host Tadic noted the role poverty plays in the growth of organised crime. For criminals, “borders and other barriers” simply do not exist, Tadic told reporters.

Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic voiced his country’s readiness to contribute to the suppression of terrorism and organised crime. Croatian counterpart Stipe Mesic, welcomed the prospect of institutionalising co-operation in the battle against crime and terrorism, saying they pose “a great danger” for the region.

Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency Chairman Borislav Paravac and Albanian President Alfred Moisiu agreed that terrorism and organised crime are regional problems that require a joint response. Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski said “a wide coalition of organised crime” is active in the region, and co-operation is needed to defeat it.

Also present at the event was EU Judiciary and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini. In comments to the Serbian Broadcasting Corporation, he said “a lot of progress has been made in Serbia, especially in the fight against financial and organised crime.”

“It is very important to continue the process and devote special attention to extremism, violent radicalisation and a clampdown on extreme groups in the region,” Frattini said.

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