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Strengthening cooperation between Western Balkan countries and Europol in combatting terrorism and violent extremism threats

On the 9th of November 2022, the project Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans – IPA 2019 (CSC WB) organized a regional workshop on “Awareness raising on European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) capabilities”, which was held in Tirana, Albania. The event was organized in the framework of the project’s support to strengthening cooperation between Western Balkan countries with relevant EU Justice and Home Affairs agencies, such as Europol.

Relevant stakeholders from Albania, Kosovo*, and Montenegro, including representatives from Police, Prosecution Offices, Agency for National Security, and Financial Intelligence Units, had the opportunity to discuss with their Europol colleagues current cooperation with the European Counter Terrorism Centre and ways to strengthen it.

During the one-day workshop, the ECTC representatives, working in the CT Operations Unit and in the EU Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU), shared with the participants Europol/ECTC methods and tools that Western Balkan countries’ law enforcements officers can use in their fight against terrorism and violent extremism, such as sharing information and support in ongoing investigations, including internet investigation support, post-attack support, etc. The Europol colleagues also stressed the importance of flagging and sharing of terrorist and violent extremist content with relevant partners.

Stakeholders attending the event agreed on the importance of strengthening cooperation with the ECTC and making better use of its tools and best practices to address the counterterrorism needs of Western Balkan countries, also by making better use of Europol secure channels of communication.

The project CSC WB IPA 2019 is implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the Italian Ministry of Interior (IMoI) and the Centre for International Legal Cooperation (CILC), co-financed by the European Union, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development German Government (BMZ) and the Italian Ministry of Interior. Its  main objective is to strengthen the cross-border cooperation to counter serious and organised crime in the Western Balkans with institutions and networks of the EU.

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UN Security Council resolution 1244 and the International Court of Justice Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.