22-23 May 2003
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
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
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
- 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
- Integrated border management to rely on full professionalism and
- 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
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
- 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.
- 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.