Balkan Police Ministers Debate Croat Attack

Sarajevo – Interior ministers from Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Croatia and Slovenia meeting over the weekend have backed a need for greater cross-border cooperation following the murder of a Croatian journalist.

The ministers were also unanimous that the recent assassination of Croatian journalist and publisher Ivo Pukanic had confirmed that mobsters in the Balkans made up a single network.

One of the characteristics of the Pukanic case is the fact that Croatians, Serbs and Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) were engaged in his assassination, said Croatia’s Tomislav Karamarko, adding that this means that none of mafia groups or organised crime gangs are limited by state frontiers.

The editor of Croatia’s Nacional weekly Pukanic, together with Franjic, were killed in a car bombing in central Zagreb on October 23.

His Bosnian counterpart, Tarik Sadovic confirmed that police in Bosnia’s entity of Republika Srpska are working closely with other police agencies in the search for Zeljko Milovanovic, whom Croatia suspects to be the killer.

Serbia’s Ivcia Dacic urged regional police forces to engage in a more intensive cooperation, that would include faster exchange of information.

Meanwhile Sadovic said “the ministers agreed that they will try to apply European standards in their national legislation with the aim of improving the efficiency and facilitating their cooperation.”

He said the ministers would implement the signed agreements on police cooperation and conclude new ones, strengthen cooperation in preventing money laundering, in conducting financial investigations as well as in witness protection programs and enhance their cooperation also in the fight against cyber crime.

They will also hold similar meetings twice a year, the three ministers as well as Montenegro’s Jusuf Kalamperovic decided.

Dacic was also quoted as saying that the ministers agreed to launch a joint appeal to the European Union to “as soon as possible” liberalise the visa regimes for the countries of the western Balkans.

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