Visit of CSC WB experts in Albania aiming at improving interoperability and SPOC establishment

Visit of CSC WB experts in Albania aiming at improving interoperability and SPOC establishment

On 02. March 2021 a delegation of experts from the project Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans – IPA 2019 (CSC WB) begun the round of visits aimed at improving the beneficiaries’ abilities in the field of interoperability and the establishment of a SPOC (Single-Point-Contact)  in the region.

Despite the shortcomings related to the COVID 19 pandemic, it has been possible to realize the meetings in Albania, especially due to the determination of the local authorities to introduce the delegation to all the interested parties as well as the stakeholders.

In this regard, Albania is the first country to be visited and the in-depth analysis will last from 01 – 05 March 2021.


Operational Meetings Montenegro: Countering big smuggling of migrant case and further cooperation on ongoing cases in drugs trafficking

Operational Meetings Montenegro: Countering big smuggling of migrant case and further cooperation on ongoing cases in drugs trafficking

One of the indispensable values of the project Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans – IPA 2019 (CSC WB) is the organization and facilitation of the operational meetings between the Western Balkans, the EU and international counterparts, aiming at supporting highly complex operations.

Following this approach, the Montenegrin Embedded Country Team of the project has organised two operational meetings. The operational meeting held on February the 25th and 26th 2021 in Gioia Tauro, Italy focused on further information exchange regarding ongoing cases involving drugs trafficking. Participants of the meeting were representatives from Countering Drugs Unit, Police Directorate of Montenegro, Italian Guardia di Finanza, United States Drugs Enforcement Administration, US. Customs and Border Protection from U.S. Department for Homeland Security and Distrectural Directorate for Antimafia and Reggio Calabria Court.

The main topic of the second operational meeting was big smuggling of migrant case, which was held at the Special Police Unite of Montenegrin Police Directorate on February the 23rd 2021. The participants from the Special Police Unit and Sector for Trafficking of Human Beings and Migrations, Liaison Officer from Italy in Montenegro, one representative of the project CSC WB and a representative from the Italian Office for Fight Against Migrations and Trafficking of Human Beings took part in the meeting.

At both meetings the participants agreed direct communication and more trustful cooperation to more efficiently fight the organised crimes.

Regional Network of National CT/CVE Coordinators of the WB – Trustful and committed cooperation

Regional Network of National CT/CVE Coordinators of the WB – Trustful and committed cooperation

The Regional Network of National Counter-Terrorism/Countering Violent Extremism Coordinators of the Western Balkan 6 held its regular biannual meeting on Thursday, 11. February 2021. Together with the local authorities – the National Coordinators and their colleagues – all relevant EU services are participating in the network: EEAS, DG HOME, DG NEAR and the EU CT Coordinator’s Office.

The forum discussed the ways forward in 2021, stressing the unambiguous priority of the EU to systematically fight terrorism and all forms of violent extremism in cooperation with the Western Balkan partners. The implementation of the six bilateral CT arrangements and the support to the WB authorities in their activities on resocialisation, rehabilitation and reintegration of FTF’s and families are considered as priorities by both sides.

The representatives of the IISG project and the Countering Radicalisation in Prisons’ project, implemented by the Council of Europe, presented their progress and informed the participants of the future steps.

In addition to regular topics, the forum touched upon the question on improving the reporting system of the WB 6 to the EU Terrorism Situation & Trends Report (TESAT) by cooperating with the project Countering Serious Crimes in the Western Balkans, implemented by GIZ and the Italian Ministry of Interior. 

The Regional Network of National Counter-Terrorism/Countering Violent Extremism Coordinators, chaired by the EU Regional CT/Security Advisor, represents a unique security exchange platform with and within the WB region by creating trustful and committed cooperation within the region and with relevant EU services.

EMPACT Organised Property Crime – Enhanced involvement of Serbia agreed upon

EMPACT Organised Property Crime – Enhanced involvement of Serbia agreed upon

This week a meeting addressed all the relevant authorities in Serbia working on Organised Property Crime (OPC) in explaining the mandate of EMPACT OPC, presenting its capacities and possibilities. Moreover, the nomination of a National EMPACT Coordinator in Serbia was agreed upon, as well as next steps towards official inclusion of Serbia in Operational Actions of particular relevance. Together with Europol, the Drivers and the Action Leaders the project Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans – IPA 2019 has been mandated to improve the ability of the Western Balkans institutions to actively take part in and contribute to the EU Policy Cycle -EMPACT priorities. Therefore, the project is supporting the implementation of this activity and will continue to provide support in strengthening the participation of Serbia in EMPACT Organised Property Crime.

Exchange between Drug Units from North Macedonia and Montenegro

Exchange between Drug Units from North Macedonia and Montenegro

In December 2020 SELEC together with the Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans – IPA 2019 project supported an operational meeting in Ohrid. The purpose of the meeting was to exchange information between representatives from Drug Units from North Macedonia and from Montenegro. The above is related to the common investigation that was implemented on the territory of the Republic of Italy, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which resulted with the seizure of cocaine at the territory of the Republic of Italy and North Macedonia.
The agreement is to continue with the improved communication and cooperation and to exchange operational data between the participants with the purpose to fight smuggling of narcotics, including the international level.

Operational meetings between Montenegro and Albania

Operational meetings between Montenegro and Albania

Under the framework of the project Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans – IPA 2019 an operational meeting between Montenegrin Police and Special State Prosecutor and Albanian Police and Montenegrin Special State Prosecutor was held mid of January. The main objective addressed migrant smuggling and dismantling criminal groups. The importance of the two-days operational meetings is multi-layered for the future collaboration between two polices and two prosecutions: establishing of direct communication channels between the two countries regarding the suspicious members of criminal group and targeting possible investigations in the later step. For both Montenegro and Albania this is a valuable opportunity in enhancing the collaboration between the two countries to fight organized crime, strengthening border security and migration management – which are of high priority for the respective countries and also in the enlargement perspective for EU engagement with the Western Balkans.

Deployment of a Liaison Prosecutor of Albania at Eurojust – Tangible results of the project work

Deployment of a Liaison Prosecutor of Albania at Eurojust – Tangible results of the project work

The High Council of the Prosecution in Albania decided in December 2020 to command the prosecutor Ms. Fatjona Memçaj to be deployed as liaison prosecutor at the Eurojust office in The Hague for a period of 2 years and 6 months. This decision was based on the proposal made by the General Prosecutor, Mr. Olsian Çela, manifesting commitment of the Albanian prosecution towards an increased cooperation with Eurojust.

“This is an important step towards the integration of the Albanian prosecution in European organizations focused on the fight against organized crime, trafficking, terrorism, economic crime, cybercrime, etc., through increased cooperation, coordination of investigations and rapid exchange of information”, was stated on the website of the General Prosecutor`s Office in Albania.

This is also a great result of the project work in Albania, as the project Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans – IPA 2019 builds upon measures of the previous project phases which are visible in the current project – such as capacity development, establishing a closer cooperation with Eurojust and supporting the introduction and implementation of certain data protection related measures in Albania, which are conditional for the signing of the Cooperation Agreement with Eurojust which finally happened in 2019. The project will further support the strengthening of the cooperation between Albania and Eurojust and in particular the implementation of the Cooperation Agreement by providing support to the Albanian Liaison Prosecutor to Eurojust (co-funding of costs for the deployment in The Hague).

Read the full article of the General Prosecutor`s Office in Albania: http://www.pp.gov.al/web/Komandohet_Prokurori_nderlidhes_i_Shqiperise_prane_Eurojust_1518_1.php#.X-oyWUxFw2x

If interested in reading more about the role of a liaison prosecutor, visit the Eurojust website: https://www.eurojust.europa.eu/states-and-partners/third-states/liaison-prosecutors

Photo rights and source: General Prosecutor`s Office in Albania

Flexible technical assistance in the making – first TAF selection round completed

Flexible technical assistance in the making – first TAF selection round completed

The project’s Technical Assistance Facility (TAF) offers flexible support to partner institutions, who apply jointly from at least two Western Balkan countries, submitting operational ideas linked to serious and organised crime as well as to counter terrorism.

During the first submission round which ended in mid-October, partner institutions from the police, Ministry of Justice, Public Prosecution Office and the Committee for Countering Violent Extremism and Counter-Terrorism from four Western Balkan countries made use of the opportunity and submitted six proposals.

The Kosovo* police contributed an especially promising proposal, on preparing investigations on complex drug trafficking cases jointly with Albania and North Macedonia, involving police and prosecution, potentially making use of a JIT. The goal is to strengthen long-term cooperation and coordination on these matters. EU representatives and the project also deemed four other proposals promising. For these, further conceptual work will be done.

Implementation will start as soon as COVID restrictions allow. Based on the lessons learnt and feedback received during this first round, the team is currently revising the TAF process and accompanying materials. We thank all involved for their contributions!

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence

Project Steering Committees– First round of meetings in 2020 successfully held

Project Steering Committees– First round of meetings in 2020 successfully held

The project Embedded Country Teams (ECTs) have sucessfully organised the first round of the Project Steering Committee meetings. Together with project beneficiaries, relevant local and international projects, the ECTs have presented the project scope and the approach for the upcoming period. Together with our beneficaries we have discussed what we want to achieve, complemented by the views of the local and international stakeholders. To improve our impact, the project Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans – IPA 2019, co-funded by the European Commission, the BMZ and the Italian Ministry of Interior, analyzed possible synergies and synchronizing of activities with other projects in the WB6 countries. The participants have expressed a high level of satisfaction in working with the project, describing it as a „unique project with a hands-on approach“.

Why our work matters – the echo in Germany: Members of a criminal call center in Kosovo* arrested with support of our project work

Why our work matters – the echo in Germany: Members of a criminal call center in Kosovo* arrested with support of our project work

In close cooperation with authorities in Kosovo*, other partners and members of the project Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans, the criminal police offices in Trier and Dresden have successfully broken up a criminal call center in Kosovo*.The criminal group has probably acted for years in the area of the “false lottery winning promises” and cheated primarily older victims. There is a suspicion that the detainees are responsible for a number of frauds throughout the Federal Republic of Germany and have caused high-volume damage, mainly oriented towards cheating on senior citizens in Germany.

This action was welcomed and echoed in the German media: https://www.polizei.bayern.de/news/presse/aktuell/index.html/321936

https://www.donaukurier.de/nachrichten/bayern/Kriminalitaet-Deutschland-Rheinland-Pfalz-Kosovo-Callcenter-Betrueger-sollen-Senioren-abgezockt-haben;art155371,4718766


* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.