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Minister Mate on Border Security in Western Balkans and on visa liberalisation

Dragutin Mate, Slovenian Minister of the Interior and President of the Justice and Home Affairs Council, will attend, at the invitation of Jusuf Kalamperović, Minister of the Interior and Public Administration of Montenegro, and Ambassador Dr Theodor Winkler, Director of the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), the fifth annual ministerial conference on cooperation on border security in the Western Balkans, which will be held from 21 to 23 February 2008 in Budva, Montenegro. Minister Mate will address participants on behalf of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU and will sign a Cooperation and Partnership Agreement between the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Slovenia and the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces.

The Western Balkans was identified as one of the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency of the EU Council very early on, and border security is one of the key issues for the European Union as a whole. Stability in this region is extremely important for Slovenia and the presidency is a unique opportunity for the country to assert itself as a bridge between the European Union and the South-Eastern European countries.

The fifth ministerial conference under the auspices of the Geneva DCAF is devoted to the evaluation of progress achieved and activities carried out in 2007 within the DCAF Border Security Programme 2008–2011. The conference will focus on topics connected to the challenges facing these countries and the European Union as regards ensuring border security. They are: border management systems in South-Eastern Europe, evaluation of progress made by countries in 2007 on border security, implementation processes and evaluation of activities carried out in this area as well as the annual plan of joint activities for 2008 along with the strategic guidelines for the period 2009–2011.

Besides representatives of the DCAF centre and local authorities the conference will be attended by ministers of the interior and other high representatives of the countries, European Commission and international security agencies. The conference will open in the afternoon of 21 February 2008 with an opening meeting and welcoming addresses. By 23 February, when it officially closes, there will have been four plenary sessions.

As part of his visit, Minister Mate will join Franco Frattini, Vice-President of the European Commission and European Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security, who will announce the beginning of a dialogue on visa liberalisation with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro on 20 and 21 February 2008 in Skopje and Podgorica. Slovenia supports the beginning of a dialogue with the Western Balkan countries, as this will contribute to their drawing closer to the European Union faster. 


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Date: 18.02.2008