First ministerial meeting on disaster preparedness and prevention in South Eastern Europe takes place in Sofia
SARAJEVO – The first ministerial meeting on disaster preparedness and prevention in South Eastern Europe, held today in Sofia, Bulgaria, pointed to a need to strengthen regional cooperation in this important field and take joint action to cope with fires, floods and earthquakes.
Disaster Preparedness and Prevention (DPP) is a key regional initiative under the umbrella of the newly formed Regional Co-operation Council (RCC), the successor of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe.
“The RCC strongly supports this initiative which will allow the region to take practical steps today not to be unpleasantly surprised tomorrow”, said Hido Biščević, the RCC Secretary General.
The meeting adopted a joint statement confirming the commitment to continuously address DPP issues and requested the development of a comprehensive strategy and action plan. Moldova, the incoming Chair of the South Eastern Europe Cooperation Process (SEECP) was asked to arrange for the ministers to review progress within a year.
Erhard Busek, the Special Coordinator of the Stability Pact, noted that DPP is an area where one cannot stand still as economic, social and environmental costs of natural and man-made threats are too high. “Given the recent high incidence of floods and forest fires in the region, it is clear that through regional cooperation each country can increase its own ability to prevent and fight them successfully.”
The European Commission representative recalled support available to the region for civil protection mechanisms and announced a forthcoming launch of the Commission’s disaster risk reduction programme.
The meeting was held under the auspices of the Bulgarian SEECP Chairmanship, and opened by the Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev. Other participants included relevant ministers and senior officials from all the SEECP participating states, the European Commission, UN/ISDR, UN/OCHA, World Bank, NATO, etc.