Following the EU-Western Balkans Ministerial Forum on Justice and Home Affairs, the following statement was adopted by the participants, who included Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King, Slovakian Minister of Interior Robert Kalinak representing the Presidency of the European Council, representatives from the future Maltese Presidency, ministers from Slovenia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo, and representatives from NGOs and regional cooperation bodies:
We, the participants of the EU-Western Balkans Ministerial Forum on Justice and Home Affairs in Brdo on 15-16 December 2016, acknowledge the pressing need to counter the illicit trafficking and accumulation of firearms, their parts and essential components and ammunition in the Western Balkans and the EU and reaffirm our strong commitment to work together towards joint solutions, in order to address common security challenges affecting both the EU and the whole of the Western Balkans region.
Building on the common priorities identified in the Action Plan on Illicit Trafficking of Firearms 2015-2019 we adopted in 2014, and the EU Strategy on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW), which identified the Western Balkans as a main priority, we are committed to implement the following actions and pursue the following goals:
- Systematically associate Western Balkans partners in operational actions related to the Western Balkans in the context of the EU policy cycle priorities on the fight against firearms trafficking
- Set up joint investigative teams, coherently with the initiatives aiming at enhancing operational law enforcement cooperation.
- Carry out at least one joint action per year focused on the illicit trafficking in firearms and explosives with the participation of law enforcement agencies of EU Member States and Western Balkan partners and the involvement of Europol and European Border and Coast Guard.
- Enhance the exchange of information at regional level and with EU Member States, involving Europol on the illicit production, stockpiling and trafficking of firearms and ammunition, as well as explosives and precursors, aiming also to develop more effective investigative and intelligence standards.
- Explore voluntary surrender firearms programs throughout the Western Balkans, taking into the account the lessons learned from previous experiences.
- Welcome the future secondment of liaison officers by Europol in the region.
- Enhancing security and safety of stockpiles, taking into account that unauthorized access to stockpiles of firearms, ammunition, explosives and precursors should be vigorously prevented and all transgressions promptly investigated and sanctioned.
- Support CEPOL dedicated common training programs to strengthen capacity building and awareness about the fight against illicit trafficking in firearms.
- Extend the use of all available tools for tracing firearms, including iTRACE, iARMS and the Europol's databases while ensuring the full use of the Europol Focal Point on weapons and explosives.
- Improve the collection and exchange of statistics concerning illicit production, and trafficking of firearms and ammunition.
- Make full use of the EU supported South-Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC).
Regular assessment of the implementation of the above mentioned actions is necessary so as to allow the EU Member States to leverage this information in the framework of the EU Policy Cycle. Participants of the 2017 EU-Western Balkans Ministerial Forum on Justice and Home Affairs are invited to make an assessment of achievements in the above mentioned areas.
Done at Brdo on 15-16 December 2016