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Ministers of the Brdo Process countries endorse closer operational cooperation in the fight against migrant smugglers in the region

Minister of the Interior Boštjan Poklukar hosted the 11th informal meeting of the Ministers of the Interior of the Brdo Process countries in Portorož.

The ministerial meeting attended by the Ministers of the Interior and other representatives of the Western Balkan countries, Slovenia's neighbouring countries and the representatives of the European Commission, Europol and Frontex was dedicated to the discussion on the current challenges in the field of internal security and migration with the focus on closer cooperation in the fight against migrant smuggling.

The Western Balkan route has been one of the main migratory paths into Europe in recent years. New trends are constantly on the rise, while the migrant smuggling networks are quickly adaptable and remain the driving force of irregular migration. Slovenia is no exception.

"It has been several years since our experts proposed a platform for a transparent and timely exchange of information for faster and more effective identification of criminals. Last November, they also established a network of operational contact points, which brings together experts in migrant smuggling investigations, in order to coordinate joint activities for detection and investigation of the organisers and perpetrators of migrant smuggling offences," the Minister said.

The ministers and other representatives of the participating countries expressed their support for these efforts and agreed that the high level of operational cooperation needs to be maintained through regular exchange of information on any significant counter smuggling activities in the region.

Ministers of Internal Affairs of the countries of the Brdo process

Ministers of Internal Affairs of the countries of the Brdo process | Author Ministrstvo za notranje zadeve

The second topic on the agenda focused on returns of the migrants, who are not eligible for international protection. "Effective returns of those, who are not eligible for protection or haven't applied for it, carried out it in full respect of human rights, also send a signal to the smugglers," the Minister said, adding that returns are an essential pillar of integrated migration management.

Participants agreed that close cooperation and mutual trust are vital for the management of irregular migration.

Minister Poklukar took the opportunity to thank the Slovenian police for successfully countering migrant trafficking. In the first three months of this year, Slovenian officers detected and arrested 63 smugglers with a total 363 migrants. The Slovenian police ensure a high level of security for all citizens and people on the territory of the country. They constantly adapt their working methods to the situation on the ground, which they constantly monitor: by changing tactics and working methods, by means of compensatory measures carries out on a random basis or on the basis of risk analyses to prevent cross-border crime and secondary migration, by using technical means and by strengthening international cooperation.

Migration is one of the priorities of the Slovenian Government. The Ministry of the Interior has set up a Working Group for preparation of a new migration strategy, which will take into account the changing global trends and events in our proximity and give special attention to the respect of human rights. The Working group that cooperates closely with NGOs and the civil society is also active on the international level, with the overall goal of ensuring integrated migration management.

On the sides of the ministerial meeting, the Minister held meetings with fellow Ministers of the Interior of Bosnia and Herzegovina Nenad Nešić, of Kosovo Xhelal Sveçla and of North Macedonia Oliver Spasovski, to discuss security challenges and migration. They made a commitment to cooperate more closely, whereas Slovenia reaffirmed it will continue to provide support in their accession negotiations.