Newsletter 3/2010 - Our South East Europe
INTERVIEW with Trpe Stojanovski, Director of Migration, Asylum, Refugees Regional Initiative (MARRI)
Regional cooperation indispensible for better future of South East Europe
Mr Stojanovski, what is your assessment of regional cooperation in the field of justice and home affairs among the countries of South East Europe?
The regional cooperation in the field of justice and home affairs among the countries of South East Europe (SEE) is today much more improved compared to ten years ago. As a witness from the region, I can say that the progress made is tremendous. The confidence and mutual understanding between the law enforcement agencies has rapidly improved. The international human rights instruments, the Palermo Convention, the Police Cooperation Convention for SEE, etc., offered new frame for cooperation and have been implemented by the SEE countries.
EU projects through CARDS Programme before and IPA Programme today are intensively developing in the frame of twinning projects between the EU and the SEE countries and this process still has an increasing tendency. The law enforcement and other judicial entities from SEE countries today are more efficient and better connected with EU bodies such as EUROPOL, EUROJUST, FRONTEX and others, and trough several successful cases they have demonstrated that they can prosecute and sentence criminal groups.
The organized crime after 9/11 and during the economic crisis has shown that the state institutions must continue cooperating in order to harmonize not only the legislation but also the methodology, to share information more efficiently, and also to respect human rights. The international cooperation in the field of justice and home affairs is facing new challenges and the countries must continue to work in a manner that would allow them to improve national performances and to develop more efficient mechanisms and tools to prevent and to fight this phenomenon.
What are the key challenges in this context for the region and what is the way forward?
The key challenge for the region is to have the national authorities understand that regional cooperation is a sine qua non for better future of South East Europe. The existing political disputes on the Balkans, unfortunately affect this process. However, the countries must continue to identify their common interests, the smallest denominator in all aspects, and to implement the rule of law. The better the connection through the existing regional initiatives and the partnership with EU institutions and organizations, the better the results in the region.
How important is regional cooperation in the process of European and Euro-Atlantic integration?
Regional cooperation is crucial for the national capacities to manage the challenges from national, regional and international perspectives. It is the lacmus which indicates the real performances of the states in the field of rule of law and protection of human rights. The main goals of the countries of the region, the membership in the EU and Euro-Atlantic integration, facilitate the process of achieving the standards and implementing the international instruments.
What are the keys to success of MARRI?
MARRI is an intergovernmental regional initiative which serves as an example of good organization and structure. Since its establishment, MARRI Member States have made significant progress in the area of migration management. Legal framework and institutional capacities have reached considerable level of harmonization with EU and international standards. This is confirmed by the fulfilment of conditions from the Roadmaps for Visa Liberalization and the European Commission Country Progress Reports in justice and home affairs area.
In line with successful past practices, the MARRI will continue to be the voice of the region and to play an active part in supporting regional responsibility and ownership. Successful regional cooperation and exchange of information represent a crucial prerequisite in achieving EU and international standards of migration management, which in turn require a more comprehensive approach to identifying strategic priorities and project activities.
Networks for cooperation from MARRI Member States’ national institutions dealing with migration will be used as a source of strategic and project ideas as well as tools for communication and exchange of experiences and information.
What experiences from MARRI project would you highlight as the most relevant ones in terms of successful cooperation in this part of Europe?
Successful regional projects and activities developed and implemented by MARRI include: the Project on Document Security and Establishment of Identity, the Establishment of a Network for Cooperation between Border Police on International Airport Border Crossing Points in MARRI Member States, the Asylum Network and its activities, the MARRI Publications (Migration Paper, MARRI member States Visa Systems), the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Visa and Consular Cooperation, as well as MARRI newsletters.
The MARRI has also signed cooperation agreements with the Regional Cooperation Council, the Southeast Europe Police Chiefs Association (SEPCA), the Police Cooperation Convention (PCC) Secretariat, the Centre for Combating Trans-border Crime (SECI Centre), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), FRONTEX. All projects are network oriented.
How do you see the role of the Regional Cooperation Council in advancing cooperation in South East Europe, particularly in justice and home affairs?
The RCC has a unique position in South East Europe, particularly in justice and home affairs. The expectations by MARRI is for the RCC to continue to be a reliable partner with the regional organizations and a catalyst of the integrative processes in the region, to promote these processes, to mobilize the positive ideas and through a comprehensive Regional Strategy offer better connection of the entities in the region, and also better present the region and the priorities from the region to the donor community.
Mr Stojanovski has been Director of the MARRI Regional Centre in Skopje since August 2007 and was re-elected for another 3-year term earlier this year. He also has an extensive experience with the law enforcement as well as academia in The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
MARRI is governed by its six member states: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. The current MARRI Presidency-in-Office is held by the Republic of Albania (April 2010 – April 2011).