BUCHAREST, July 4th – More than 80 specialists in countering terrorism met in Belgrade, Republic of Serbia, during a two-day workshop organized by the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate, SECI Center, Regional Cooperation Council and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Government of the Republic of Serbia as host country. The main topic was terrorism financing in the SEE region and in particular the links between terrorism financing and organized crime.
Dragan Markovic, Secretary of State of Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia spoke about the commitment of his country to join forces with international organizations; “Republic of Serbia strongly supports and takes all so far adopted decisions of international organizations and measures taken in fight against terrorism and it is prepared to fully engage itself, together with other members of international community, in all forms of fight against international terrorism. Only by strengthening of bilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation, we shall be able to jointly tackle all security challenges that might be put before us”.
Gürbüz Bahadır, the Director of SECI Center stated: “Most of the countries of SECI Center do not have terrorism cases, but this does not mean that this problem does not exist. The relationship between organized crime and terrorism is more real than we expect. This also represents a risky diffusion into the social life, besides the well-known, distinctive attacks or activities of terrorist organizations. According to the Organized Crime Threat Assessment – OCTA SEE that the Center prepared based on the contribution of the member countries, there is a strong link between organized crime and terrorism. The organizations have connections or are directly involved in criminal activities, such as drug trafficking. Sometimes they offer the organized crime groups arbitration and protection”.
The purpose of the meeting was to share experiences and ideas, to keep the awareness regarding terrorism high, and to benefit from networking in a field where you can have results only by working together.
“Today’s terrorists often operate very effectively across borders. They may recruit in one country, raise funds in another, and operate in others. Their ability to utilize modern technology is made evident by their ability to raise and transfer money. They are also creative in finding new ways to do so. Countering these illegal activities requires vigilance and innovation. It is therefore of utmost importance that States cooperate effectively to detect, disrupt and investigate terrorist financing in order to – ultimately – prevent new terrorist acts from taking place“. This was the message of Mike Smith, Executive Director of Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) read by David Scharia, CTED Legal Officer.
The workshop is a follow-up of the last year event in Sarajevo, jointly organized by the same team.
The workshop was preceded by the 5th Anti-Terrorism Task Force Meeting, where specialists from the SECI Center member countries shared experience in countering terrorism.
As it was pointed out by the member countries, in trafficking of small arms and light weapons, the perpetrators use the same routes already established in smuggling persons or drugs.
Law enforcement agencies in the region are conducting several investigations targeting the criminal groups dealing with trafficking of weapons.
“We will continue the cases already initiated by the countries, even if SECI Center will become SELEC – Southeast European Law Enforcement Center“, Gürbüz Bahadır assured the participants.
Said Emre Topdemіr, Superintendent within Turkish National Police and Coordinator of the Anti-Terrorism Task Force stated: “Today we are dealing with completely complicated terrorist actions. More than ever before, security threats including terrorism and organized crime are interrelated. The development of better instruments for regional and national counter-terrorism cooperation is an essential component of a comprehensive response to terrorism. In this context, we should use Anti-Terrorism Task Force as a regional institution for combating terrorism“.
During the meeting a very useful tool for the member countries, the booklet “Counterterrorism experiences of SECI member countries” was launched. The booklet puts together information on the terrorism problem in each member country, as well as details regarding the national structures and legislation, besides several other useful topics.
“The preparation of such a book is a very difficult job. Having it in this form is a success because it proves the determination of the member countries, their availability to give something for this process, their will to get involved. This is the value of this book“, the editor of the booklet stated, Prof. Suleyman Ozeren, Director of International Center for Terrorism and Transnational Crime, Turkish National Police Academy.
In addition to the participants of member countries and organizers the regional workshop was attended by partners and observers to SECI Center, such as Austria, Azerbaijan, France, Italy, Spain, Slovakia, Portugal, USA, BSEC, Council Of Europe, DCAF Ljubljana/PCC Secretariat, EUBAM, EU Delegation in Belgrade, Europol, Interpol, OSCE, SEEPAG and SEPCA.
The SECI Regional Center for Combating Trans-border Crime, headquartered in Bucharest, Romania, was launched in 2000, and is a unique operational organization in which police and customs liaison officers from 13 member states (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey) work together in direct cooperation, coordinate joint investigations and facilitate information exchange.
Besides the member countries, there are 22 observers, countries and organizations: Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, CARICC, Czech Republic, EUBAM, France, Georgia, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Slovakia, Ukraine, UNODC, UNDP Romania, the United Kingdom, UNMIK, and the United States of America.
Italy and the United States maintain permanent representation at the SECI Center, and Interpol and the World Customs Organization are permanent (non-resident) advisors to the SECI Center.SECI Center has the observer status to the Conference of the Parties to the UNCTOC, CARICC and IOM.