Western Balkan and Moldovan Experts Gather for 17th SEEFEN Regional Meeting

Over 50 participants - senior police investigators, customs officials, prosecutors, ballistic experts, representatives of border police, regional and international organisations - gathered in Skopje on 1-2 November for the 17th Regional Meeting of the South-East Europe Firearms Experts Network (SEEFEN). The meeting, organised biannually by SEESAC, focuses on information sharing and knowledge exchange on lessons learned, challenges faced, new modus operandi, and ways forward in combatting firearm and explosives trafficking in and out of South East Europe.

Opening the meeting, H.E. Mr. Oliver Spasovski, the Minister of Internal Affairs of North Macedonia, said that he is convinced that SEEFEN meetings encourage not only the deepening of regional cooperation in the development of skills and coordination in the fight against trafficking and illegal possession of firearms, but also stronger cooperation with the European Union, its member states and the specialised agencies of the European Union, as well as the key international actors in the area, who are regular participants of the event

“SEEFEN has not only become a model of inspiration and good practice to follow, but it has also grown into one of the key expert networks in the field of small arms and light weapons (SALW) control and has provided important contribution to increased capacities for SALW related investigations in the Western Balkan jurisdictions,” Ms. Jorida Shytaj, Senior Political Advisor at the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), stated in her opening remarks.

SEESAC Project Manager, Ms. Bojana Balon, pointed out that for SEESAC will continue supporting SEEFEN operating as the key regional framework at the operational level that ensures a comprehensive approach and bringing all the key actors together. She added that considering the war in Ukraine and the changed security environment in the immediate neighbourhood, the value of SEEFEN is even more obvious.

Established in 2013, SEEFEN meets biannually to further enhance the regional approach to combatting firearms trafficking through information exchange and knowledge sharing amongst experts in the region and beyond. SEEFEN is supported by the European Union through the EU Council Decision (CFSP) 2019/2111 in support of SEESAC disarmament and arms control activities in South East Europe.