At the fifth Tri-Lateral meeting of the European Union Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) to Moldova and Ukraine and the security services of both countries, held in Odesa today, the Head of EUBAM Mr Udo Burkholder paid tribute to the joint efforts of all parties to tackle cross-border crime.
The Deputy Head of the General directorate for fighting against corruption and organised crime of the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU), Mr Pavel Kravchenko, and the Acting Director of the Information and Security Service of the Republic of Moldova (MDISS), Mr Valentin Dediu, joined Mr Burkholder in commending the ongoing cooperation between EUBAM and both services in terms of information exchange, joint intelligence-led investigations and joint border control operations.
“The meeting we had today once again proved that law enforcement and intelligence services of Ukraine, Moldova and the European Union share the same priorities aimed at enhancing security at the national, regional and European levels. Together with the EU, we are ready to search and to implement the most effective mechanisms of counteracting cross-border threats,” Mr Kravchenko said. He thanked the Mission for the technical assistance and advice provided to Ukraine that aims to improve the professional level of law enforcement and specialized agencies, as well as their approximation of European standards.
Mr Burkholder emphasized the importance of partnership in tackling cross-border crime. “We can only tackle cross-border crime in a spirit of partnership, which is one of EUBAM’s core values,” he said. “Our positive working relationship with the security services of Moldova and Ukraine, just like our relationship with the customs and border services and other State agencies in both countries, is key to the fight against crime and promotion of regional security.”
Apart from the participation of both services in EUBAM training initiatives, the parties highlighted the efforts of the two ‘working groups’, one to address illegal migration and THB, and the second to address illicit smuggling activities. These working groups, coordinated by EUBAM, provide the security services a mechanism through which they exchange information.
Both the SSU and MDISS also played key roles in Task Force Arms, launched by EUBAM in March 2011 to strengthen efforts at counteracting the proliferation of weapons, radiological and nuclear material. EUBAM then responded to an SSU request to create a mechanism for identification of drug consignments at Odesa and Illichevsk sea ports by setting up Task Force Drugs in September 2011.
The Joint Border Control Operation (JBCO) AKKERMAN 2011 was singled out for special praise at today’s meeting. Together with other agencies, the SSU and MDISS played a major role in the planning, implementation and evaluation of the operation, which managed to make seizures valued at EUR 3.2 million — a six-fold increase on JBCO TYRA 2010. The parties also referred to the successful cooperation between EUBAM and the MDISS, among other agencies, that led to the seizure of 62 million cigarettes in Megara, Greece, in May 2011.
For his part, Mr Valentin Dediu, Acting Director of ISS, said that the experience gained within the format of trilateral cooperation has improved the interaction, focusing joint efforts on combating regional threats and crime at the Moldova-Ukraine border. Thus, the efforts aimed at countering regional security threats in the immediate vicinity of the eastern border of the EU have become more efficient.
“However, changes in this region require the implementation of new operational approach, which, in turn, involves expanding the trilateral cooperation, in order to reduce security threats,” reiterated Mr Dediu.
Looking to the future, Mr Burkholder stressed that EUBAM, together with both services, should not lose momentum and utilize all available tools in order to meet the challenge of tackling cross-border crime. He also said that EUBAM would be prioritizing a joint strategic analysis of risks deriving from criminal activity on the Moldova-Ukraine border.