The 3rd Regional Coordination Meeting of the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap

Following the Third Roadmap Local Coordination Meetings organized by SALW Commissions in Sarajevo (2 June), Tirana (17 June), Pristina (24 June) and Skopje (26 June) over 120 participants, joined on 3 July 2020, the Third Regional Coordination Meeting of the Western Balkans Roadmap. Participants included authorities from the Western Balkans; high representatives from the European Union, Germany, France, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Switzerland; representatives from the UNDP, UNODC, UNODA, RCC, OSCE, NATO, INTERPOL, EUROPOL, EMPACT, EUFOR, PCCSEE, Small Arms Survey, NABIS, ITF Enhancing Human Security, MAG, BAFA, GIZ, PAMECA, Halo Trust and RACVIAC.

The meeting aimed to review progress in the implementation of the Roadmap, discuss challenges and short-term plans as well as support from the international organizations engaged in arms control in the region. Furthermore, it presented the key findings from the 3rd progress reports as per Roadmap Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Roadmap Goals.

Key statements from officials present at the event included:

H.E. Joanneke Balfoort, Director for Security and Defence Policy, European External Action Service (EEAS): 

The value of the Roadmap process lies also in the fact that it is fully regionally owned. While many donors and international organizations are supporting the implementation, the process is nevertheless nationally owned and steered. The role of SEESAC, which was established by Governments in the region and UNDP to support the disarmament and arms control efforts, is also an important one. The EU will continue to support the efforts in the Western Balkans, which are very much in line with the EU Strategy Against Illicit Firearms, Small Arms & Light Weapons and their Ammunition.

Mr. Maciej Popowski, Deputy Director-General, Directorate General for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR):

We are committed to developing a strong dimension under the upcoming Security Union Strategy and subsequent initiatives on countering arms trafficking, trafficking of human beings, drugs etc. In this context, the Western Balkans Roadmap will be integrated in the upcoming EU Action Plan 2024. We remain committed to the region and to the security of the region which we share, and we’ll keep these security matters centrally in the course of the accession process.

Mr. Marcus Bleinroth, Director of Division, Conventional Arms Control, Federal Foreign Office, Germany: 

We have seen how this model of the Roadmap we developed and presented one year ago in the Security Council is a success story that is now being replicated in two other regions. I am glad to hear that the Roadmap will be integrated in the EU Action Plan and will make the project even more pertinent and stronger so all the mechanisms that you have developed will stay in place and I assure you that both Germany and France will remain committed.

H.E. Jean-Claude Brunet, Ambassador-at–large on transitional criminal threats and the fight against the illicit trafficking of SALW, France:

The Franco-German effort in the Western Balkans is a unique experience upon which our leaders are trying to build further with Europe and for Europe. Coordination in the co-chairmanship will allow us to develop a more integrated approach in the EU Action Plan addressing the synergy with programs under implementation and supported by the expertise and cooperation with the EU Member States.

Ms. Agi Veres, Deputy Director, UNDP Europe and the CIS:

I commend the Small Arms and Light Weapons Commissions from the region for their strong commitment in the organization of local coordination meetings and of the regional meeting as per the planned schedule. This high-level engagement and ownership from the region, is a strong evidence of long-lasting cooperation and spirit of trust that has been established in this area in the Western Balkans. It is a remarkable example which further promotes transparency, confidence and stability, which are so much needed in this region.

Mr. Amer Kapetanović, Head of Political Department, Regional Cooperation Council:

The Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap process is a unique practical example of a regionally owned process - the authorities in the region decided to deepen the cooperation and set clear targets, as well as to measure progress in achieving them; the importance of support from donors and international organizations is undisputed.

Mr. Olivier Onidi, Deputy Director-General, Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs, European Commission:

The fact that we are integrating the Roadmap in the EU action plan is a testimony of the level of integration of the Western Balkans and this is unique, the first time it happens in a sector, we are actually translating what you have done in Western Balkans and propose to apply it across the European Union. We propose to apply the same priorities, we propose to apply the same KPIs to work exactly on the same winning way as you have done and conceptualized in the context of the Western Balkans. I think there is no better reward than to see this being translated to all member states. 

The Roadmap was developed by the Western Balkans authorities with SEESAC’s technical support, under the auspices of the Governments of Germany and France and with the support of the European Union (EU) and all other relevant actors. It was adopted by the region’s leaders at the London Summit in July 2018. The Roadmap envisages the Western Balkans as a safer region, and an exporter of security, where comprehensive and sustainable mechanisms, fully harmonized with the European Union and other international standards, are in place to identify, prevent, prosecute, and control the illegal possession, misuse and trafficking of firearms, ammunition and explosive.

The meeting is organized within the EU COUNCIL DECISION (CFSP) 2018/1788, of 19 November 2018 in support of SEESAC for the implementation of the Regional Roadmap on SALW Control in the Western Balkans.