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Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe on automated data exchange

Today, 7 September 2017, the Minister of the Interior Vesna Györkös Žnidar attended the 17th meeting of the Committee of Ministers of the Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe (PCC SEE), which was held at Brdo pri Kranju. The meeting was held under the auspices of the Serbian PCC SEE Chairmanship-in-Office and attended by the Convention signatories Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Hungary, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania and Slovenia. In addition to the interior ministers and representatives of these countries, the meeting was also attended by the representatives of the European Commission, Eurojust, Europol, Frontex, and by several regional and international organisations such as CEPOL and DCAF. On the margins of the meeting, the minister held a number of bilateral meetings.

The purpose of the Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe is to establish a uniform legal basis for cooperation between the police forces of non-EU Southeast European countries, with a view to pursuing common security interests and effectively combating cross-border threats to public order and security and trans-national crime.


At the meeting, the minister pointed out that cooperation between the countries of the region in combating trans-national crime and the establishment of a uniform legal framework for all Southeast European countries and EU Member States bordering on these countries is extremely important for Slovenia and its Ministry of the Interior. She assessed the existing cooperation within the framework of the Convention as effective and useful: "We are demonstrating, through our regular meetings, that cooperation in the region is important for all of us and that we are seriously committed to a security partnership and its development." Slovenia advocates the extension and strengthening of cross-border cooperation between the Convention members, particularly in combating terrorism and cross-border crime, to include automated exchange of DNA data, dactyloscopic data and vehicle registration data.


The ministers took note of the work done by the special working group of the contracting parties to the Convention which, with active participation and professional coordination by Slovenia's experts, prepared key documents for automated data exchange. Slovenia supports the proposed draft documents, the Minister of the Interior said, and proposed to establish, as soon as possible, the conditions for starting official negotiations on the prepared documents, which include the text of the agreement and the implementing agreement. "Automated exchange of data between the contracting parties to the Convention and further development of the Integrative Internal Security Governance (IISG) initiative, especially in relation to the contracting parties to the Convention, are just two of the many reasons why we look to the future with great expectations," the minister emphasised.


The official launch of the IISG initiative in the Western Balkans will be the core issue under discussion tomorrow at the sixth informal meeting of the interior ministers of the countries participating in the Brdo Process. The concept of the initiative was supported by the ministers at their last meeting at Brdo in April 2016, when they expressed a clear need to develop a comprehensive and integrated approach in the area of internal security in the Western Balkan region and extend the model of cooperation within the WBCTi (Western Balkan Counter-Terrorism initiative) to serious and organised crime and border management.


On the margins of the meeting of the Committee of Ministers of the PCC SEE, minister Vesna Györkös Žnidar met with the director of the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) Thomas Guerber. The minister assessed the existing cooperation with DCAF as good, also given that a joint plan of cooperation for 2017 in 2018 was signed in June. "Strengthened cooperation in the Western Balkan region is of crucial importance in facing challenges. We will therefore continue to support the DCAF's activities and initiatives in different fields. Given the complexity of the challenges, synergies should be sought in our efforts on a continuous basis, " the minister said. She also expressed satisfaction that the Brdo Process has been recognised as the most appropriate platform to host the IISG Committee since all the stakeholders recognised this process as an important factor in the region.


In discussion with her Serbian counterpart, the Minister of the Interior Nebojša Stefanović, minister Vesna Györkös Žnidar assured assistance to Serbia in the process of negotiations with the EU, not only politically, but also technically, as special attention is being placed on cooperation in twinning projects. Currently, we are involved in two such projects - in the field of asylum and in the field of fighting organised crime, where our operation is focused primarily on activities of the fight against trafficking in human beings.


The minister proposed to her Serbian counterpart to strengthen cooperation in the field of migration as well, also by starting to exchange data between the professional services. She stressed that no country can face migration alone. Slovenia is already assisting Serbia by seconding Slovenian police officers to the Serbian-Bulgarian border, where they have been active since this January. The Minister of the Interior also met with her Montenegrin counterpart Mevludin Nuhodžić. She underlined that cooperation between the ministries has been good and added that the Ministry of the Interior is willing to assist Montenegro, in the future as well, in approaching the European integrations. She thanked Montenegro for their cooperation in the activities of the Brdo Process and proposed that cooperation be strengthened in the field of migration and international protection.


In discussion with the Minister of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina Dragan Mektić, minister Vesna Györkös Žnidar focused mainly on migration. She acquainted him with the current situation in Slovenia regarding migration, which is peaceful, although there is a consistent trend of increased illegal crossing of the border. In the first seven months of this year, police officers dealt with almost a thousand illegal crossings of the state border, which is nearly twice as much as in the same period last year. She also thanked him for the existing strong support for the WBCTi.