Salzburg Forum Ministers Sign Witness Protection AgreementOn 24 May 2012, Interior Minister Dr Vinko Gorenak attended a ministerial conference of the Salzburg Forum members. At the meeting the ministers signed the Agreement on the Cooperation in the Area of Witness Protection.
The Agreement regulates technical issues of police operation in the area of witness protection, where the operational standards have to be clearly defined while the concrete execution of individual procedures depends on professional standards in each member. Minister Gorenak said that the signing of this Agreement was the most important achievement of the Salzburg Forum recently, proving that a consensus on crucial expert fields of police work was possible within the Forum.
The ministers also discussed the strengthening of the Schengen mechanism operation. In Slovenia's opinion, the current legal arrangement of compensatory measures is adequate; however, according to Minister Gorenak, the efficiency of implementation in all member states is not adequate, which has a negative effect on the security situation in other member states. "For this reason we support the initiative to set the expected minimum level of effectiveness of compensatory measures at the level of the entire Schengen area with a view to preventing cross-border crime and illegal migration across internal borders," Minister Gorenak said.
When discussing reintroduction of border controls at internal borders the minister emphasized that Slovenia's position on this issue has remained the same throughout the discussion within the EU bodies. This means that individual countries must have – as is the case now – the possibility to temporarily reintroduce border controls if public order and national security are under threat (e.g. in case of mass events, political gatherings, terrorist threats). The Schengen Borders Code already governs these procedures in an appropriate manner, which was confirmed in the past years by their implementation in practice. It is a fact though that in cases when the security of several countries is under threat, predominantly because of ineffective Schengen control at external borders in combination with an increased migration pressure, this mechanism is insufficient and would have to be upgraded. Minister Gorenak said that in such cases it would be useful to have the option of introducing border controls in the direction of threat to internal security of several countries, which can reintroduce controls simultaneously. Similar arrangements should apply in cases when a member evidently cannot implement the Schengen acquis at an adequate level.
At the meeting the ministers reviewed the work of the first trio presidency and the implementation of their 18-month work programme and discussed the coordination of candidacies for important positions in the EU agencies. At the end of the meeting the ministers approved the 18-month programme of the next trio presidency of Hungary, Poland and Romania.