Newsletter 4/2010 - Activities in brief

6th Conference of the Bled Process on Stolen Vehicle Crime held in Sarajevo

The 6th conference of the Bled Process on Stolen Vehicle Crime, held in Sarajevo on 1-2 July 2010, was jointly organized by the Regional Cooperation Council Secretariat and the Southeast Europe Police Chiefs Association (SEPCA). It focused on tackling Stolen Vehicle Crime in South East Europe (SEE).

National Action Plans in SEE countries as well as future steps to be taken to improve national and regional regulations and activities in fighting the stolen vehicle crime were the main discussion topics at the conference.

The participants assessed that the overall number of stolen vehicles in the region is decreasing, mostly due to the introduction of the sophisticated tracking I-24/7 INETRPOL’s database. They pointed out that the countries in South East Europe are among the best users of the system that allows them to control and track vehicles both in the region and beyond.

The event gathered competent and specialized high level police officers dealing with this form of organized crime, as well as representatives of INTERPOL, EUROPOL and other relevant European and international organizations.

The conference participants concluded that a new form of a continued cooperation and exchange of experiences should be created given that the Bled Process initiative was drawing to a close in 2011.

Regional Cooperation Council Secretariat hosted e-leadership workshop in Sarajevo

A two-day regional e-leadership workshop was held at the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) Secretariat on 28-29 June 2010. The event was co-organized by the RCC Secretariat and the eLeadership Programme for the Western Balkans of the United Nations Development Programme, with support of the Italian Government.

The aim of the meeting was to assist e-leaders in implementing reforms and e-government systems. It comprised of several training sessions that focused on lobbying about benefits of the information and communication technologies (ICT) and addressed the fundamentals of change management techniques to ensure proper utilization of the ICT. 

The workshop was opened by Minister of Communications and Transport of BiH, Rudo Vidovic, UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Yuri Afanasiev, RCC Political Advisor, Alphan Solen, and Director of Italian Development Cooperation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Silvano Tabbo.

Preparations for the forthcoming Electronic South East Europe (e-SEE) ministerial conference envisaged for autumn 2010 was discussed at a side meeting that brought together e-SEE Initiative government representatives and e-SEE Secretariat, along with the RCC. The ministers in charge of development of the Information Society are expected to reaffirm their strong commitment to the implementation of the e-SEE Agenda Plus priorities and to endorse its updated and revised deadlines at the forthcoming conference.

The eSEE Initiative promotes creation of adequate institutional environment for the introduction of information society, according to the European Union guidelines. The purpose of the initiative is coordination and creation of capacities for implementation of information technology (IT) in various fields, such as business operations, management, education, health, etc. Members of the eSEE initiative are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia Montenegro, Moldova, Romania, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and UNMIK/Kosovo. It is supported by a number of European and international organizations.

The eSEE Agenda Plus for the Development of Information Society in SEE 2007-2012, signed by nine South East European ministers at the Regional eSEE Ministerial Conference in Sarajevo in October 2007, promotes single, open and competitive ICT market, highlighting innovation and investment into research, development and education as key priorities.

Regional Cooperation Council supported workshop on Energy Community organized by Albanian parliament

The Energy Community and Regional Sustainability workshop, co-organized by Albanian Parliament and Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), with support of Energy Community (EnC) Secretariat was held in Tirana on 25 June 2010. The main discussion topic at the workshop was Implementation of the Energy Community Treaty.

The seminar was attended by Albanian parliamentarians and parliamentary expert staff from the committees on industry, European integration, transport and communications.

The key discussion topics included the EnC Treaty as a legal framework and its implementation in Albania, market developments in the EnC, with a focus on Albania and its gas law, as well as the security and sustainability of energy supply, also in the context of climate change.

The workshop was opened by Jemin Gjana, Chairman of the Committee on Productive Activities, Trade and Environment of Albanian Parliament, Slavtcho Neykov, Director of the EnC Secretariat, and Miroslav Kukobat, Senior Expert on Infrastructure and Energy at the RCC Secretariat. 

This workshop was the third one, after Belgrade and Sarajevo, in a series of RCC events built upon the conclusions of the regional workshop “Parliaments – Support to Harmonized Energy Reforms in South East Europe”, held in Sarajevo in December 2008. The 2008 workshop initiated the process of facilitating the lawmaking and increasing the ability of parliaments to oversee their governments in the energy reform process.

According to the EnC Treaty, one of the tasks of the Energy Community is to organize the relations between the concerned parties (European Community, Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and UNMIK/Kosovo). It also involves creation of a legal and economic framework in relation to electricity and natural gas (Network Energy), in order to create a stable regulatory and market framework capable of attracting investment in gas networks, power generation, and transmission and distribution networks, as well as to develop Network Energy market competition on a broader geographic scale and exploit economies of scale. The final aim is that the parties to the Treaty have access to the stable and continuous energy supply that is essential for economic development and social stability.

First meeting for preparing South East European strategy on justice and home affairs held in Sarajevo, under RCC auspices

The first meeting of the South East European Steering Group for Regional Strategy on Justice and Home Affairs 2011-2013 was held in Sarajevo on 6-7 July 2010 at the Regional Cooperation Council Secretariat, which is coordinating the preparation of the document.

Participants worked on identifying challenges in each of the countries and integrating them into a regional framework. They pointed out the main threats in South East Europe: trafficking in human beings and sexual exploitation of children; illegal migration and smuggling of migrants; trafficking and smuggling of goods, hazardous materials and arms; money laundering; drugs trafficking; terrorism and its links to organized crime; and corruption.

Once finalized, the regional strategy on justice and home affairs will include a plan for a system of monitoring and evaluating the regional cooperation, with benchmarks and indicators. The envisaged result is a sustainable, coherent, transparent and coordinated strategy in South East Europe for the next three years, which will provide guidance for monitoring progress, circulating and assessing information, facilitating cooperation among relevant actors and donors, and raising visibility of regional efforts.

The first draft of the document is to be produced in September 2010, with the strategy being endorsed by the South East European ministers of justice and home affairs in early 2011.

The meeting participants included representatives of national judicial institutions from South East Europe, SEE regional organizations, EU institutions and agencies, representatives of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, national and international experts on justice and home affairs, NGOs and professional associations.

Creation of the regional strategy was agreed at a coordination conference held in Sarajevo in December 2009. The strategy should support and facilitate implementation of the EU related acquis and the Stockholm Programme, as well as other international and regional conventions, such as the UN Conventions on combating trans-border crime and corruption, Council of Europe conventions, the Police Cooperation Convention for South East Europe and the SELEC Convention.

New RCC strategy endorsed and the organization’s Secretary General re-appointed by South East European leaders in Istanbul last month

The annual meeting of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), as well as the meetings of the foreign ministers and the heads of state and government of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP), held in Istanbul on 22-23 June 2010, endorsed the RCC’s 2011-2013 Strategy and Work Programme, and the Annual Report of its Secretary General for the past year’s activities. Additionally, the foreign ministers reappointed Hido Biscevic as the RCC Secretary General for a two-year period (2011-2012).

The RCC members welcomed the International Organization for Migration (IOM) into membership, thus setting the total number of RCC members at 46 countries, organizations and international financial institutions.

The annual meeting, co-chaired by Secretary General Biscevic and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as the SEECP Chair–in-Office, discussed developments in regional cooperation in South East Europe within the RCC framework and challenges ahead of the organization.

“The period behind us was marked by multifaceted challenges, within the region and also among our international institutional partners. The RCC has found a way to provide pragmatic and flexible solutions and incentives to ensure the environment conducive to preservation and enhancement of the spirit of regional cooperation even against many evident constraints and differences”, said Secretary General Biscevic.

“The RCC ensured that its own all-inclusive platform serves the best long-term interests of our members from the region, gradually and patiently impressing upon the political and general public the notions and principles of dialogue, tolerance, solidarity and coexistence as part of the “European exercise” of our regional, in particular Western Balkans, members along their path to the EU membership.”

The new strategy of the organization responds to the needs of the region, and aims to profile the added value of enhanced cooperation over the next three years in key priority areas in South East Europe: economic and social development, infrastructure and energy, justice and home affairs, security cooperation, building human capital, and parliamentary cooperation. It was prepared in close cooperation with the European Commission and other RCC members.

In the joint statement, the SEECP heads of state and government expressed appreciation for the work of the Regional Cooperation Council which, as the operational arm of the SEECP, has taken important steps in transforming vision of regional cooperation into concrete and targeted project cooperation within the scope of the RCC priority areas.

The participants noted that close links and synergy between the SEECP and the RCC have proven to be of crucial importance for further development and strengthening of regional ownership which will promote regional cooperation processes in South East Europe.