A refreshed Brdo ProcessIn his address at the conference opening, the Minister of the Interior, Vinko Gorenak, presented the success of a decade of Brdo Process during which the activities were based on the transfer of good practice and European standards.
This approach has produced positive results and improved the cooperation between the participating states. Although the circumstances have changed significantly, the countries still face the same security challenges. The states of the region have reformed their home affairs sectors significantly and are now in various stages of EU approximation. As we define our forum's mission and activities for the future we must take into consideration the progress achieved in terms of security so far and the changed circumstances. Speaking of security, the boundaries between the Western Balkans and the EU have disappeared, which is why our community cannot feel safe unless we strive to create an integrated and connected common security zone.
Against this backdrop, we need to adapt our ways of cooperation. The aim was to make the Brdo Process pragmatic, operational and effective. In the years ahead, discussion topics will remain Europe-oriented while Slovenia will communicate conference conclusions to EU institutions. This year's Brdo Process was centred around three topics. In the introductory part of the conference, the ministers discussed regional cooperation and EU assistance within the framework of fulfilling the pre-accession requirements. In the end, they exchanged their views on effective management of mixed migration flows and witness protection in the Western Balkans.
Throughout the morning session, the ministers discussed regional cooperation and pre-accession assistance, recognising that the EU approximation of Western Balkan states is the interest of all Brdo Process participating states. One of the important aspects of this process is the role which Slovenia and Croatia will play in transferring their knowledge and sharing their experience of the pre-accession process.
Efficient management of "mixed" flow of migrants has been on the agenda of home affairs ministerial councils in Brussels for quite some time. The interior ministers of Western Balkan states agreed that this is a burning issue which is none the less obvious in their region.
Witness protection was discussed as the last item on the agenda. This aspect of policing requires discretion and strict adherence to professional standards. To facilitate cooperation in this field standards should become more coherent enabling national witness protection authorities to cooperate with greater efficacy. The ministers agreed that the groundwork for improved regional cooperation in witness protection should be prepared. Slovenia was designated as the coordinator of activities that will result in an international legal document. An informal network of witness protection experts will be set up. Their first Slovenia-organised meeting will take place already this year.