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SEPCA Workshops, Podgorica: Effective International Police Cooperation

On September 2-3, 2021, two workshops were held in Podgorica, Montenegro, with representatives of the South East Europe Police Chiefs Association (SEPCA) Member States. The objective of the first workshop was  updating the SEPCA Threat Assessment document related to criminal phenomena affecting the region, while the second workshop targeted setting up an Operational Task Force (OTF) to tackle high-risk criminal groups. The overall objective of the events was providing competent authorities concrete insights to utilize effective international police cooperation tools for analyzing, preventing and combatting major criminal organizations.

The event took place under the Montenegrin SEPCA Presidency-in-Office with opening remarks by the SEPCA National Coordinator Ms. Selma Mehović. The projects Countering Serious Crimes in the Western Balkans – IPA 2019 (CSC WB) and ATHENA 2[1], both led by the Department of Public Security – Central Directorate of the Criminal Police of Italy provided support for organizing both workshops. Along with the Montenegrin Police Directorate the project CSC WB was the promoter of the initiative to organize such workshops with a crucial impact on future SEPCA development.

The Ambassador of the Republic of Italy to Montenegro Mr. Luca Zelioli underlined the Italian commitment in cooperating with SEPCA Member States, expressing the expectation of achieving concrete operational outputs aimed at reinforcing effectiveness of the fight against organized crime at the transnational level, following the solid results commonly achieved so far.

On behalf of the Chief of Police of Montenegro, Mr. Zoran Brđanin, the Head of International Police and Operational Cooperation Division Mr. Dejan Bolijević expressed that planned activities are pivotal in the framework of a new strategy conceived for the SEPCA: “The event we are opening today is of huge importance for connecting the Heads and the Analysts of the Criminal Departments in the SEPCA Region, as well as the SEPCA’s National Coordinators which will contribute to the more effective exchange of information and the best practice”.

The Project Leader of the CSC WB on behalf of the Italian Ministry of Interior, Senior Director of the State Police Mr. Carlo Verdiglione detailed the specific goals to be achieved in line with the project’s outputs, stressing that the criminal intelligence analysis and effective responses are even more important when we refer to High Risk Criminal Networks, which is among the most insidious and pervasive organizations.

ATHENA 2 – project action aiming at ensuring effectiveness to the police joint activities managed by the Schengen Countries, through a tailored plan of operations, monitoring and analysis which will proactively support a more coordinated risk assessment. This 24 month-activity will provide a proactive training program (through the use of CEPOL ad-hoc platform), along with an exchange of staff program. It will also improve the training availability in the medium/long term in favor of LEAs officers employed at the border areas. The project partners (Bulgaria, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Romania, Slovenia and SELEC) will involve their neighbors/partners, including the Western Balkan Countries, ensuring proper dissemination of good practices and wider sharing of experiences. Joint investigation Teams, cross border observations and joint patrols in border areas will be financially supported by the ATHENA 2 project.  The ambitious goal of the project is the strengthening of mutual trust among EU and neighbor countries to reduce the requests of temporary internal border checks.

Photo Source: SEPCA