Thursday, October 10, 2013

Conference brings together regional police chiefs

BELGRADE -- Countering organized crime is only possible with open cooperation in the region, Ivica Dačić said as he addressed the Balkan Region Police Chiefs Conference.
"The Serbian Interior Ministry has always been considered an important partner in the fight against organized crime, which primarily includes the smuggling of drugs, weapons, vehicles, people and counterfeit banknotes," the Serbian prime minister, who also serves as interior minister, told the gathering in Belgrade on Thursday.
He said that with the development of technology "also strengthens and cyber crime, " and underlined Serbia0s "significant role in the strengthening of regional cooperation and establishment of regional peace and stability."

The first regional conference of its kind is organized jointly by Serbia and Italy, and was also addressed by directors of Serbian and Italian police forces, Milorad Veljović and Alessandro Pansa.

The conference brought together police representatives of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Greece, Hungary, Montenegro, Moldova, the Serb Republic, Romania and Slovenia.

Alessandro Pansa said that his country has 13 liaison officers in the Balkans, and is very interested in cooperation with the countries of the region.

"The aim is to neutralize all the organizations involved in illegal activities in the Balkans that are spreading their influence to the EU," Pansa said, adding that since 2006 to date "a large number of criminal organizations has been dismantled."

Dačić underlined that Serbia "has a significant role in the strengthening of regional cooperation and establishment of regional peace and stability" and noted that relations in the region are "on a high level."

He said that Serbia will confirm its commitment to European integration through screening, as well as its determination to boost the fight against organized crime, which is a permanent challenge and requires flexibility and adjusting to the situation in order to be able to respond to new circumstances more efficiently.

The prime minister stressed that Serbia has been facing a double problem in recent years – an increase in the number of illegal immigrants entering Serbia, but also an increase in the number of asylum seekers from Serbia, and said that improved cooperation between countries "solves this."

Dačić announced a joint conference of the Serbian government and the Council of Ministers of Bosnia-Herzegovina for the end of next month, and recalled that joint sessions were previously held with the governments of Macedonia and Slovenia.

"Number of asylum requests drops"

Addressing the conference, Ivica Dačić said that the number of requests for asylum abroad filed by Serbian citizens dropped significantly relative to previous years and that the government implemented a series of tangible measures to cut the number of false asylum-seekers.

Dačić added that over the past few years, Serbia has faced a double problem, embodied in the increase in the number of illegal immigrants entering Serbia and an increase in the number of requests filed by people from Serbia applying for asylum in other countries.

He added that at the same time, Serbia is facing the pressures exerted by the EU to reduce the figure as soon as possible.

Dačić said that the trend of rise in the number of illegal immigrants entering Serbia continued in the first half of the year.

“Over 6,000 illegal crossings were prevented, which constitutes a drop of 32 percent relative to the previous year, when around 9,000 illegal entries were prevented,” the prime minister said.

The greatest pressure of illegal immigrants was recorded on the border between Serbia and Hungary and the border between Serbia and Croatia.

Dačić said that Serbia is on the transit route from Turkey and Greece to Hungary and most illegal immigrants are either transiting through Serbia or staying there for a while, abusing the institution of the right to asylum.

According to him, the immigrants mostly come from Afghanistan, Palestine and Pakistan and their number increased over the past few years.

"All Balkan countries are tackling illegal migration which has intensified over the past few years due to visa liberalization and the situation in the Middle East," Dačić said and added that regional countries need to cooperate on solving the problem so that the Balkans "could be a safer place."

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