Updated: 22-May-2003 Conferences


22-23 May 2003

Common Platform

of the Ohrid Regional Conference on Border Security and Management

Following a NATO initiative, the EU, NATO, the OSCE and the Stability Pact have been working jointly within a Consultative Group, under the umbrella of the Stability Pact, to develop a coherent and concerted approach to the border security and management issue in the region of Western Balkans, especially in the parts of the region where for exceptional reasons and on a temporary basis military units are involved in border control and smuggling interdiction operations during a transitional period (i.e. before full military withdrawal in the framework of the security sector reform, and until border control is entirely under the responsibility of specialized professional police services, in accordance with European standards). They consulted with the countries of the region and took into account their remarks.

In order to promote local and regional ownership, the four Partner Organisations (NATO, the EU, the OSCE and the Stability Pact) have agreed upon common political goals, objectives, principles and instruments to which they propose that the Western Balkan countries subscribe at the Ohrid Conference. The present Common Platform contains the guidelines for the commitment of the four Partner Organisations and the countries of the region.

A Way Forward Document, identifying concrete and specific measures necessary to achieve these objectives, should be developed jointly by the countries of the region and the four Partner Organisations at the Ohrid Conference. Together with the Common Platform, it should take into account some requirements in the specific parts of the region where military units are involved during a transitional period. The ultimate aim remains border control services being put entirely under the responsibility of appropriate civilian (i.e. police) authorities, in accordance with European standards as soon as possible.

The four Partner Organisations reaffirm their offer to assist committed Western Balkans countries in the development of policies and strategies aiming at the achievement of the proposed goals and objectives.

Guidelines for Commitment

Political Goals and Objectives

Three key political goals should be pursued to achieve effective border security and management:

Establish open but controlled and secure borders in the entire region, in accordance with European standards and initiatives. This goes through the facilitation of border crossing for legitimate purposes, especially by the inhabitants of border areas, and through the effective prevention and prosecution of all illegal cross-border activities, in particular those that support terrorism and organised crime and endanger regional security (especially trafficking of weapons, human beings and drugs).
This goal should be achieved through the implementation of the following objectives:

  • Improvement of efficient border management systems in accordance with European standards at the regional level.
  • Close co-ordination between border control police units and military units, where and when necessary, during the transitional period.

Promote further stabilization, which will pave the way for a closer relationship of the countries of the region with Europe and for their perspective membership in the European Union, by strengthening the rule of law, institutional capacity and by regional co-operation.

Take advantage of advice and support in military issues in specific parts of the region within the overall framework of security sector reform, in the field of border security and smuggling interdiction.


The professional policing of borders should be based on the principles of democratic control, efficiency and proper implementation.
Democratic control· Any military involvement in border management to be ensured through legislation.

  • Civilian authorities, assisted by civilian/military co-ordinating bodies where necessary, to have overall control and command of units involved in border control.
  • Use of military units to be limited in scope and scale, to be on a case-by-case basis, to respect police authority and not to include autonomy of action.


  • Development of national strategies of integrated border management to outline the overall long-term perspective including any transitional arrangements.
  • Integrated border management to rely on full professionalism and inter-institutional coordination.

Proper Implementation

  • Respective powers, functional responsibilities, roles and missions of police, customs authorities and military to be clearly defined, as well as the conditions for the transfer of responsibilities from the military to the civilian authority as soon as the situation permits.
  • Exchange of liaison officers, where deemed appropriate, between border police services and armed forces.
  • Enhancement or establishment of appropriate mechanisms for regular exchange and joint assessment of information at bilateral and regional levels.


In order to achieve the goals and objectives described above, the four Partner Organisations suggest that countries in the Western Balkans, especially those where the military is temporarily involved in border control and smuggling interdiction operations, enhance or develop the following instruments :

  • risk assessment instruments (joint collection, storage and analysis of data; common definition and analysis of threats, joint development of risk indicators, etc.);
  • joint operating procedures (legal framework, civilian control on military activities, command and control arrangements, rules of engagement, common training and working procedures, military-to-civilian reporting procedures);
  • joint operational arrangements delineating clearly respective tasks between civilian services and military units;
  • regular assessment of military contribution to border surveillance in support of police units (reporting, lessons learned);
  • interoperable national mechanisms and procedures for the exchange of information (strategic intelligence, operational information, inter-service communications, liaison officers);
  • agreements, mechanisms and procedures, including legal instruments, for joint threat/risk assessment, information and intelligence sharing, conduct of co-ordinated and joint operations.


On their side, the four Partner Organisations reaffirm their readiness to continue to support the committed countries’ efforts to achieve the goals and objectives described above. To that end, they offer to provide specific assistance, within their respective means and capabilities, as follows:

  • The European Union will continue to support the development of integrated border management in each country and the build-up of regional co-operation mechanisms. Through the main instrument of the CARDS(1) Programme and in accordance with EU standards for border management, a national integrated border management should be implemented following a step-by-step approach on the basis of established timelines. Where and when deemed necessary it will be co-ordinated with the contribution of military capabilities. Regionally the European Community assistance process will contribute to a better understanding of the EU standards and best practices. In each country it will also directly support the development of a national strategy and corresponding action plans. It will support the implementation of the latter. Indirectly it will enhance co-operation and networking. The EU will also endeavour to provide support within ESDP, notably the EU military operation in the Host Country and the EU Police Mission (EUPM) in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • Acknowledging that border security and management issues must be addressed in their regional dimension, in close co-operation with other international organisations involved, NATO will focus its support to the parts of the region where for exceptional reasons and on a temporary basis military units are involved in border control and smuggling interdiction activities during a transitional period. KFOR will remain actively engaged in border control and smuggling interdiction activities and operations, in close co-ordination with UNMIK in accordance with agreed Temporary Operating Procedures. NATO, through its Senior Civilian Representative and Civilian Liaison Office in Skopje, and through Senior Military Representatives and HQs in Tirana and Skopje, will provide advice to the relevant authorities on the military aspects of reforming and restructuring border security. NATO will assist these countries inter alia through SEEGROUP in the co-ordination of bilateral and multi-lateral initiatives to encourage unity of effort with the international community.
  • OSCE’s comprehensive concept of security and its expertise in the field provide the Organisation with both the conceptual basis and the practical experience to contribute to the aims of the Ohrid conference. OSCE’s practical contribution in this area could focus on civilian aspects of:

  • training of and advice to border police (possibly through a new regional training initiative);
  • assistance to and facilitation of institution building, in particular of national and regional co-ordinating bodies;
  • promotion of regional co-operation, in particular cross-border bilateral co-operation.

Any additional OSCE role in support of border management will need to be practically oriented and fit in with other existing policies, for instance the Integrated Border Management Concept of the EU and NATO’s role in border control and smuggling interdiction.

The Stability Pact will offer its auspices for the continuation of the work of the Consultative Group in close co-ordination with the countries of the region. This Group will concentrate on civilian-military co-operation with possible assistance of RACVIAC(2) in Zagreb. The newly created working groups on border and visa issues under the MARRI (Migration, Asylum, Regional Return Initiative) Chair will aim to assist countries both in line with their efforts vis-à-vis their SAp obligations and also to foster bilateral and regional co-operation in broader spectrum. The Special Co-ordinator of the Stability Pact will, in his role as SECI(3) Co-ordinator, invite the Bucharest Centre for Combating Trans-Border Crime to fully support this initiative.

The four Partner Organisations agree that good co-ordination between international organisations is essential and that UNMIK should be associated.

Way ahead/Short-term objectives

Achievement of the political goals and objectives depends on the successful implementation of initial practical short-term measures. The four Partner Organisations invite the countries of the region to commit themselves to achieve the following short term objectives, if possible before the end of 2004. They see these short-term objectives as first steps in a longer-term joint effort aiming at enhancing significantly border management and security in the whole region.

Initial development of national instruments

  • Definition of national policy and strategy on integrated border management followed by corresponding national action plans.
  • Establishment of national co-ordinating structures and procedures.
  • In the region, where and when required, Command and Control (C2) arrangements will be identified through appropriate civilian channels.

Initial development of specific co-operation instruments

  • Establishment of internal, bilateral and multilateral mechanisms and procedures for the exchange of information on border and trafficking issues.
  • Training and certification of all military personnel directly involved in border control and anti-trafficking activities.

Way Forward Document

  • The Way Forward Document, identifying concrete and specific measures necessary to achieve these objectives should be developed on the basis of the proceedings and conclusions of the technical session of the Ohrid Conference. This document will be developed jointly by the countries of the region concerned and the four Partner Organisations.

Review mechanisms

  • The Consultative Group of the four Partner Organisations, together with the committed countries of the region, will keep under review the concrete implementation of the Common Platform.
  • The Way Forward Document will specify modalities of coordination of this review.
  • Each of the four Partner Organisations will make full use of its existing review mechanisms to ensure follow up and internal coordination.
  • Regular review meetings to assess achievements on short-term objectives and consider further steps.

1. The EU adopted on 22 October 2001 the “CARDS Regional Strategy Paper” that provides a strategic framework for programming the regional envelope of the European Community’s CARDS assistance programme for the Western Balkans in the period 2002-2006. CARDS supports the participation of five countries of the Stabilisation and Association process (SAp) which is the cornerstone of the EU’s policy in the region. Among four areas of support, the CARDS Regional Strategy Paper identifies integrated border management to help to tackle cross-border crime, to facilitate trade across borders and to stabilise the border regions themselves.
2. Regional Arms Control, Verification and Implementation Assistance Center.
3.South East European Co-operative Initiative.

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