The Western Balkans Officials Assess Progress of the Roadmap Implementation at the 10th Regional Coordination Meeting

The Western Balkans authorities reviewed the progress in the implementation of the Roadmap for a Sustainable Solution to the Illegal Possession, Misuse and Trafficking of SALW and Their Ammunition in the Western Balkans by 2024 (Roadmap) at the 10th Regional Roadmap Coordination meeting. The meeting took place in Tirana, Albania on 19-20 December 2023. The meeting brought together more than 100 participants, attending both in person and online, representatives from the Small Arms and Light Weapons Commissions in the Western Balkans, international organisations involved in arms control in the region, and the key donors – the European Union, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

In the course of the meeting, participants reviewed the progress made towards the seven goals of the Roadmap and discussed the remaining gaps.

The 10th Regional Progress Report  on the Implementation of the Roadmap, covering the period from 1 January to 30 June 2023, was presented in the meeting. The Report was prepared by SEESAC with inputs from six WB jurisdictions [1].  Here are some of the key highlights on the progress in the implementation of the Roadmap:

  • Commitment to the implementation of Roadmap goals by the authorities in the Western Balkans has been maintained during the reporting period, extending efforts regarding the activities on the Roadmap revision beyond 2024.
  • All jurisdictions reported ongoing work on revisions to the legal framework related to firearms, ammunition, and explosives. The drafting of the amendments to the Laws on Weapons and Law on Civil Use of Explosives in most jurisdictions continued, with the adoptions planned in 2023 and 2024. Most jurisdictions also reported work in drafting amendments to the Criminal Codes on firearms-related criminal offenses in compliance with the UN Firearms Protocol.
  • All jurisdictions have valid SALW Strategies until 2024/2025, while most jurisdictions have valid SALW Action Plans, except for Belgrade and Pristina, whose Action plans are still waiting for adoption.
  • Firearms Focal Points (FFP) have been further developed in five out of six jurisdictions. The establishment of FFP in Sarajevo is still pending, while FFP in Tirana was established as a permanent organizational structure within the State Police. Sarajevo reported that a Joint Contact Point with Europol is now operational.
  • Crime Scene Investigation and Criminal Police capacities for firearm-related crimes were significantly enhanced in all jurisdictions, with strengthened capabilities reported through procurement of specialized equipment, thematic workshops and training. Significant progress has been reported by some jurisdictions regarding SOP development, training, and equipment support of Criminal Police. In addition, most jurisdictions reported their focus on accreditation of Ballistic Laboratories.
  • The authorities in several jurisdictions reported continued activities on strengthening Border Police capacities. Active participation in intelligence phase, meetings and operations of South East Europe Joint Action Days 2023 (SEE JAD) was reported by all jurisdictions.
  • Following mass shootings, the authorities in Belgrade reported country-wide awareness campaigns on voluntary surrender and legalization. The authorities in Tirana reported launching of a SALW Awareness Raising and Communication Strategy 2023-2027. Most of the jurisdictions reported participation in jurisdiction and regional level activities related to awareness raising, outreach and education on the dangers and risks related to the misuse and illicit possession of firearms/SALW.
  • Ongoing efforts by most jurisdictions to improve the security infrastructure of law enforcement agencies were reported, while inspections of legal entities and those related to private security significantly increased during the reporting period in most of jurisdictions.

Additionally, during the reporting period, the authorities across the region reported:

  • 87,006 firearms, 4,271,856 pieces of ammunition and 26,590 explosive devices collected through voluntary surrender (Belgrade – 85,665 pieces of firearms/SALW, 4,243,139 pieces of ammunition and 26,485 explosive devices; Podgorica – 657 firearms, 20,752 pieces of ammunition and 103 explosive devices; Sarajevo – various FAE were reported to be a voluntary surrender in Canton 10 only, including five pieces of firearms, 1,018 pieces of ammunition and two explosive devices. Skopje – 679 firearms and 6,947 pieces of ammunition [2]).
  • 426 firearms were deactivated.
  • 1,068 pieces of weapons, 60.57 tons of mines and explosives, 142 bullets and 3 hand grenades were destroyed.
  • 2,083 firearms/SALW were reported as lost and/or stolen.

The meeting commenced with distinguished speakers taking the floor.

H.E. Taulant Balla, Albania's Minister of Interior, addressed the 10th Roadmap Regional Coordination Meeting, highlighting the security challenge posed by arms illicit possession and trafficking in the region. He stressed the need for joint action, commended progress, and thanked donors.

H.E. Olivier Caron, French Special Envoy for Counterterrorism and the Fight against Organized Crime, emphasized the Roadmap's importance for regional security, calling for standardized approaches through legislation harmonization.

Mr. Benedikt Zanker, Head of Division, Conventional Arms Control at the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, praised local achievements, reaffirming Germany's support beyond 2024.

Mr. Stefan Tressing, Deputy Head of Division for Disarmament, Nonproliferation and  Arms Control at the European External Action Service, voiced strong EU’s commitment and support to fighting illicit arms, characterizing the Roadmap as inspiring initiative.

Ms. Steliana Nedera, Manager at UNDP’s Istanbul Regional Hub highlighted the region's influence on global SALW control policymaking.

Ms. Jorida Shytaj, Senior Political Advisor at the Regional Cooperation Council, underscored RCC's dedication to regional security initiatives, referencing the 2023 Securimeter edition’s  findings on firearm misuse and citizens' attitudes toward gun ownership.

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 and other relevant actors. It was adopted at the London Summit in July 2018.

The Regional Roadmap Coordination Meetings are organised with the funding support of the European Union through its Council Decision 2022/2321 in support of SEESAC for the implementation of the Regional Roadmap on combating illicit arms trafficking in the Western Balkans.


[1] In line with the agreement from the joint meeting of Heads of SALW Commissions held on 24 February 2023 and following the key recommendations from the Mid-Term Review of the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap, the 10th Regional Roadmap Report reflects only the progress based on the Narrative report, since Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) reports starting from 2024 will be submitted annually.

[2] Data provided by Skopje includes the total number of collected firearms and ammunition in legal possession through voluntary surrender from 1 January to 15 November 2023.