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Minister Poklukar: We should focus on the head organizers of smuggling

Minister of the Interior Boštjan Poklukar has hosted a conference of the Brdo Process. The conference was attended by the Ministers of the Interior and ministerial delegations from the Western Balkan partners, Austria, Italy and Hungary, the representatives of EU institutions, international and regional organisations and other partners involved.

The participants held a discussion on efficient border management with a focus on stepping-up the fight against migrant smuggling.

As stated by Minister Poklukar, security-related issues are very pressing. "This makes us even more aware that threats to our common security know no borders. And the Western Balkan region is no exception. Security in the region has an impact on the security in the EU member states and vice versa. Therefore, establishing and maintaining a wide dialogue is a valuable contribution to the security in the wider area."

Migrant smuggling is a distinctively cross border criminal activity and can only be successfully addressed in the Western Balkans in cooperation and mutual trust of all the actors in the region." In the recent years, migrant smuggling and related criminal activities have been reaching unimaginable dimensions, being carried out on a large scale and generating enormous illegal profits," Minister Poklukar said. "We should focus on the head organizers of smuggling and simultaneously conduct financial investigations in order to trace and confiscate their illegally earned profits. Special attention should be placed on the use of digital technologies that have become a constituent part of the smuggling of irregular migrants."

Cooperation is essential in countering migrant smuggling. The Minister noted on the success of the operational tasks force Zebra: "The goal of this international operational tasks force is to disrupt and break-up the organised criminal groups operating in multiple countries. The task force is led by Croatia with the assistance of Slovenia. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a partner country in the project, which was later joined by Germany, soon to be followed by Romania. The added value of the operational task force is in the ample gathered criminal intelligence that is not only valuable to the members of the operational task force, but also other member states, our police forces and Europol."  

The ministers also exchanged experience and best practices in police cooperation, which they will use to determine further measures to strengthen their efforts in the fight against migrant smuggling. The measures will be planned according to the actual operational requirements across the entire Western Balkan migration route.

On the side of the conference, Minister Poklukar held bilateral meetings with the Ministers of the Interior of Montenegro Danilo Šaranović and North Macedonia Panče Toškovski. They confirmed that the existing good bilateral relations should be further strengthened. They agreed that close cooperation and exchange of quality information are vital in order to achieve success in addressing security challenges.