In attendance: Ms. Vesna Dorevska, Mr. Pavle Dragović, Ms. Milena Dzhumayska, Mr. Kurt Hager, Ms. Zorana Katić, Mr. Fredolin Lecari, Ms. Katarina Lednik Bračič, Mr. Nikoll Ndoci, Mr. Thomas Pepper, Mr. Ermin Pešto, Ms. Snežana Petrović Arsovska, Mr. Romeo Soare, Mr. Hermin Šabotić, Ms. Ankica Tomić, Mr. Anton Travner, Mr. Sergej Uljanov, Ms. Biljana Veljović, Mr. Stanislav Veniger, Mr. Vladimir Vukotić.
Observers: Ms. Anna Baldan, Mr. Giuseppe Colasanto, Mr. Corneliu Dragne, Mr. Hasko Haberlah, Mr. Virgil Ivan Cucu, Mr. Toni Jakimovski, Ms. Jelka Klemenc, Mr. Dragan Slavko Petrović, Mr. Gianluca Rocco, Ms. Mirela Saković, Mr. Salvatore Siena, Mr. Darko Stančić, Mr. Predrag Vujičić, Ms. Pia Weber.
The agenda of the meeting was as follows:
Welcome and Introduction
Adoption of the agenda
Report by the PCC SEE Secretariat Report on the progress and achievements of PCC SEE Secretariat in 2011
Financial report for 2011
Overview of implementation agreements
Exchange of fake and forged documents within PCC SEE
ILECUs I project – Appointment of National Central Units
MARRI Report in Illegal Migrations
AOB RCC update on the Regional Strategic Document implementation and the Mechanism of Monitoring and Evaluation of regional cooperation
Mr. Vladimir Vukotić, Deputy Minister of Interior within the Montenegrin Ministry of Interior, who chaired the meeting, welcomed the participants to Pržno and expressed his honour to chair the meeting. He emphasised the significance of the Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe (hereinafter PCC SEE) in fighting trans-border crime and the commitment of the Montenegrin Ministry of Interior to further implement the provisions arising from PCC SEE. Mr. Anton Travner, Head of the Secretariat and co-chairman of the meeting, welcomed the participants on behalf of the Secretariat and expressed his gratitude to the Montenegrin Chairmanship-in-Office for hosting the meeting. He also took the opportunity to thank the Contracting Parties and implementation partners for contributing to the implementation process.
The agenda was unanimously adopted with some minor changes in the order of items on the agenda.
a.) Mr. Travner presented the progress and achievements of the Secretariat in year 2011. A brief presentation of the meetings organised by the Secretariat followed with an emphasis on the main outcomes. Ms. Biljana Veljović, Expert within the Department for International Cooperation and EU Integration at the Serbian Ministry of Interior, requested that a report on the activities of the Secretariat for 2011 is sent in written form to the Contracting Parties.
Mr. Travner continued by presenting the budget of the Secretariat for both 2011, emphasising that the Secretariat consistently follows the principle of transparency.
Mr. Stanislav Veniger, Senior Advisor at the Secretariat, reported on the progress in the area of bilateral and multilateral implementation agreements since the last meeting of the Expert Working Group. He requested the Contracting Parties continue sending all updates on a regular basis to the Secretariat.
d.) Mr. Veniger reported on the accomplishments of the Thematic Working Group on Exchange of Information regarding Forged and Fake Travel Documents within PCC SEE, which met on 15-18 March 2011 in Celje, Slovenia. He informed the participants that the Working Group agreed to perform the exchange of information regarding forged and fake travel documents amongst the Contracting Parties via an email system on the principal “each with everybody” and that the Contracting Parties have nominated the national contact points for such exchange. The exchange of information was successfully launched on 16 May 2011 and all together 21 alerts have been exchanged so far. The Secretariat also sent an official letter to the General Secretariat of the Council of EU with a proposal to consider the possibilities of extending the iFADO system to non-EU states and this topic will be discussed at the upcoming meeting of the Council on 21 October 2011.
a.) Mr. Vukotić presented on the priorities of the Montenegrin PCC SEE Chairmanship for the second half of 2011. Among the priorities are completing the harmonisation process of the national legislation and accelerating the signing of bilateral and multilateral implementation agreements, fostering the process of implementing the Police Cooperation Convention Manual and its transposition into domestic law, improving the conditions in the area of data protection, encouraging the dialogue on establishing common centres as foreseen by PCC SEE, fostering an efficient exchange of information and cooperation among the Contracting Parties in the area of fake and forged travel documents, promoting the importance of PCC SEE related police education and training, increasing the cooperation in the area of technical support and logistics within PCC SEE, fostering the cross-border surveillance and controlled delivery exercises under Articles 14 and 15 PCC SEE and encouraging the Contracting Parties to improve deficiencies detected in the mutual exercises, and convening the 6th meeting of the Expert Working Group and Committee of Ministers.
b.) Mr. Romeo Soare, International Cooperation Officer within the Romanian Ministry of Administration and Interior, briefly summarised the priorities of the upcoming Romanian PCC SEE Chairmanship for the first half of 2012. The foreseen priorities contain completing cross-border surveillance exercises and conducting hot pursuit exercises, continuing the screening of implementing the provisions of PCC SEE in the national legislations, carrying out an evaluation on the interaction of PCC SEE provisions with other regional mechanisms with the aim of avoiding potential overlapping and establishing a unique streamline, encouraging the Contracting Parties to improve the conditions in the area of data protection, establishing the need of assuring the legal framework and necessary financial resources for an operational international police cooperation centre in the Republic of Moldova, and convening the 7th meeting of the Expert Working Group and Committee of Ministers.
a.) Ms. Zorana Katić, Senior Advisor at PCC SEE Secretariat, began by informing the participants on the evaluation in the area of data protection performed by the Evaluation team in the Republic of Albania from 23-25 March 2011. She continued by presenting the draft decision of the Committee of Ministers on the fulfilment of the preconditions arising from PCC SEE in the area of data protection in the Republic of Albania. The adoption of the decision will enable the Republic of Albania to start the exchange of information containing personal data under the provisions of PCC SEE, namely with the Republic of Austria, the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania, being EU Member States which have passed the Schengen evaluation, since there no other Contracting Parties for which a positive decision in the framework of the PCC SEE evaluations has previously been made.
Conclusion: The members of the Expert Working Group agreed with text of the named decision, which will be proposed for adoption at the upcoming meeting of the Committee of Ministers on 17 November 2011. b.) Ms. Katić presented the draft decision of the Committee of Ministers on the amendment of the Rules of Procedure for Evaluations in the area of Data Protection. The amendment is referred to the inclusion of the Europol assessment in the field of data protection for the purposes of concluding an operational agreement as being equal to the Schengen evaluation in this area and the evaluation carried out under the provisions of PCC SEE.
Mr. Travner informed the participants that EUROPOL supports the amendment.
Ms. Milena Dzhumayska, Expert at EU and International Cooperation Directorate within the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior, took the opportunity to inform the participants that the State Commission on Protection of Personal Data of the Republic of Bulgaria would like to express reservation to the draft decision as initially disseminated to the Contracting Parties, however will not block the decision provided the remaining Contracting Parties agree. In this case the Republic of Bulgaria would suggest rewording of the revised Rules of Procedure, stating clearly that the criteria in the field of data protection covered in the framework of EUROPOL are those covered for the purposes of concluding an operation agreement.
Ms. Vesna Dorevska, Assistant Minister within the Macedonian Ministry of Interior, informed the participants that Macedonia has signed the operational agreement with EUROPOL.
Mr. Kurt Hager, Coordinator for International Police Cooperation within the Austrian Federal Ministry of Interior, proposed the term “Europol evaluation” in the decision is changed to “Europol assessment” and the participants agreed with such an amendment. He further proposed that the Secretariat, in cooperation with EUROPOL, prepares the state of play regarding the signed operational agreements with non-EU states.
Conclusion: The members of the Expert Working Group agreed with the final text of the named decision, which will be proposed for adoption at the upcoming meeting of the Committee of Ministers on 17 November 2011. Since the Republic of Macedonia signed an operational agreement with EUROPOL and should the decision be adopted by the Committee of Ministers, the Republic of Macedonia will be entitled to exchange information containing personal data starting with the day following the signature of the decision. c.) None of the Contracting Parties expressed their readiness for a mutual evaluation in the area of data protection.
a.) Mr. Travner continued by briefly summarising the outcomes of the discussion held at the previous EWG meeting with regard to the adoption of the decision on establishing a Thematic Working Group on JIT Network within PCC SEE. He once again emphasised that any duplication of efforts will be carefully avoided and mutual synergies will be sought in order to maximise the benefits both initiatives, being the Slovenian-led and PCC SEE-led JIT projects, bring to the recipient countries.
Mr. Sergej Uljanov, Head of Section within the Serbian Ministry of Interior, expressed the official position of the Republic of Serbia, stating that further consultation with the Ministry of Justice is needed before adopting such a decision. The Republic of Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina gave similar positions.
Ms. Anna Baldan, JITs Network Secretariat Coordinator at EUROJUST, held a brief presentation on the JITs Expert Network and JITs Network Secretariat.
Conclusion: The decision of the Expert Working Group on the Establishment of a Thematic Working Group on JIT Expert Network within PCC SEE was not adopted. It was agreed that the Republic of Serbia, the Republic of Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina send their official positions within one months’ time, and given their position is positive, the silent procedure for the adoption of the decision will be launched.
Discussion continued regarding the establishment of a Thematic Working Group on Surveillance Expert Network for Southeast Europe (SENSEE) within PCC SEE. Mr. Uljanov informed the participants that their General Director of Police has approved of all paragraphs in the decision, expect for paragraph g, which is related to the collection and exchange of practical and legal information between the Contracting Parties. He said that an official position of the Republic of Serbia will be sent to the Secretariat together with that for the JITs Expert Network. Ms. Dzhumayska informed the participants that the Republic of Bulgaria cannot accept uniting the cross-border surveillance and controlled deliveries. Since the comments and proposals of the Republic of Bulgaria were sent prior to the meeting, the decision was amended in accordance with the proposals and disseminated to the members of the EWG. It was pointed out that some parts related to controlled deliveries were still left in the document and it was agreed that the Secretariat amends the decision before resending it to the Contracting Parties.
Mr. Nikolle Ndoci, Director of Migration and Readmission within the Albanian General Directorate of Police, raised the question of open accession to the Network and some of the participants raised the topic of covering of costs.
Conclusion: The decision of the Expert Working Group on the Establishment of a Thematic Working Group on SENSEE within PCC SEE was not adopted. It was agreed that the amended text of the decision will be disseminated to the Contracting Parties and that the Republic of Serbia will send their official position within one months’ time. Given their position is positive, the silent procedure for the adoption of the decision will be launched.
Ms. Dzhumayska took the opportunity to give some organisational related information regarding the upcoming meeting of the Committee of Ministers (hereinafter CoM), to be held on the margins of the Salzburg Forum Ministerial meeting, hosted by the Republic of Bulgaria, on 17 November 2011.
Mr. Veniger presented the work of the Thematic Working Group for Police Education and Training within PCC SEE and the curricula they have prepared to date.
Mr. Hager asked whether the Ministers are expected to endorse these curricula at the upcoming meeting of the CoM. Mr. Travner explained that the Ministers will only be informed about the prepared curricula and it is not expected for them to be endorsed, but rather support the execution of the curricula in their respective countries. It was agreed that the term "endorsement" should be deleted from the item "Endorsement of the training curricula for PCC SEE related matters" in the CoM agenda, as initially written.
Mr. Pepper reported on the cross-border surveillance exercises that were held between the Contracting Parties. It was agreed that the long version of the report will be distributed to the Contracting Parties at the upcoming meeting of the CoM.
Mr. Pepper continued by presenting the idea behind performing cross-border hot pursuit exercises with the aim of intensifying cross-border cooperation among the Contracting Parties in the field of combating transborder crime. He informed the participants that the exercises are planned for the beginning of 2012.
Mr. Travner briefly spoke about the Post-Visa Liberalisation Monitoring Mechanism for the WB countries. He emphasised that the Secretariat is not entitled to monitor the Contracting Parties, as the name implies, but to serve as support and a regional voice. He informed the participants that this topic was raised at all meetings organised by the Secretariat, as well as the WB Troika Ministerial meeting held in Ohrid this year. The Secretariat was also invited to attend the meeting organised and called by Mr. Stefano Manservisi in Brussels. Six activities that need further development and attention were adopted at this meeting, namely:
1. Social and economic integration,
2. Sharing information and awareness raising in the region (such as info campaigns about the visa-free regime),
3. Changes of the penal code,
5. Border control at entry and exit points,
6. Changes in the asylum procedure.
Mr. Travner continued with the item "Tour des Capitals" and offered all the Contracting Parties the possibility of the Secretariat visiting all branches of their respective law enforcement authorities in order to clarify any questions or confusion regarding PCC SEE. The Contracting Parties welcomed such an offer and found such visits extremely useful.
Mr. Hager presented on the accession of Austria to PCC SEE. He emphasised that Austria wishes to speed up the full implementation of PCC SEE and that they have prepared one comprehensive implementation agreement which they would like to negotiate with all Contracting Parties.
Following, Mr. Hager explained that Austria does not wish to amend the PCC SEE, but correct articles 15, para 6, article 15, para 8, article 17, para 2. Earlier in the morning session, Ms. Milena Dzhumayska raised the question whether the articles will be corrected with a corrigendum signed by the Ministers at the forthcoming CoM meeting or by the Depository. The discussion showed that most are in favour of having the Depository correct the named articles in accordance with the Vienna Convention on the Law on Treaties.
Mr. Travner presented the draft Work Programme for 2012, envisaged to be endorsed by the CoM. He reported that only the Republic of Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Austria sent their inputs to the priorities for 2012, therefore it was rather difficult to prepare the programme.
Conclusion:It was agreed that the Contracting Parties send their priorities as soon as possible in order to include them in the document and the Secretariat will thereupon send the final text the Contracting Parties prior to the CoM for any further comments. It was also agreed that the Contracting Parties send a list of contacts for which they consider would find the PCC SEE Newsletter relevant or interesting.
Mr. Veniger presented on the state of play of common centres for police cooperation in the region. The presentation was followed by a presentation made by Mr. Giuseppe Colasanto, Chief Advisor to Border Police at EUPM in Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the idea of establishing a common police cooperation centre on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Mr. Travner reported on the state of play regarding National Central Units and their appointment in the Contracting Parties in accordance with the information received from the Depository. To date, the Republic of Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Macedonia and the republic of Albania have sent a notification on such appointment to the Depository.
Mr. Uljanov informed the participants that Serbia has a 24/7 functioning National Central Unit since 2010.
The remaining Contracting Parties were kindly asked to send official notifications to the Depository.
Mr. Toni Jakimovski, State Official of the Republic of Macedonia, and Mr. Dragan Slavko Petrović, Deputy Director and State Official of the Republic of Serbia at MARRI, reported on irregular migration in MARRI Member States, more precisely the situation at the common borders among MARRI Member States, the statistics, distinctive irregular migration flows and a case study for the Republic of Serbia.
a.) Mr. Virgil Ivan Cucu, Senior Expert and Head of JHA Unit at RCC, presented the Regional Strategic Document and Monitoring and Evaluation Mechanism.
Mr. Hager spoke about welcoming other countries to acceed to PCC SEE, such as Croatia and Hungary, and the participants welcomed expanding the PCC SEE family.
Ms. Jelka Klemenc, Senior Advisor within the Slovenian Ministry of Interior, warmly greeted Mr. Hager's proposal for the Federal Minister of Interior to contact the Slovenian Minister of Interior to urge them to consider acceding to PCC SEE. She recalled the already expressed intention of the Republic of Slovenia to accede to PCC SEE.
Mr. Corneliu Dragne, Criminal Analyst at SECI Center/SELEC, informed the participants that the SELEC Convention entered into force on 7 October 2011.
Ms. Pia Weber, Specialised Officer on Multilateral Police Cooperation at the Swiss Federal Office of Police, expressed their commitment to the implementation process and that they are especially looking forward to the ongoing process in the area of data protection.
Mr. Salvatore Sienna, CEPOL’s External Relations Working Group Deputy Chair, briefly informed the participants on the activities of CEPOL envisaged in the region.
Ms. Baldan wished further success in the area of JITs.