New regional police training program uses UNDP expertise

Mar 11, 2013

A regional project to share the experience gained by Croatian police in European integration and fighting organized crime was launched at the Police Academy in Zagreb on 11 March. "Partnership for education" is a joint initiative of the Croatian Ministry of the Interior and the United States with the support of the United Kingdom and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The program, based in Zagreb, uses Croatian instructors supported by US and UK experts to train police officers from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia to fight transnational crime.

"As a future EU member, Croatia wishes to share its experience in meeting European Union (EU) criteria with partners in the region," said Croatian Minister of Interior Ranko Ostojić. "One of the criteria that our country had to meet was precisely the fulfillment of conditions for successful prevention of all forms of organized crime, as well as delivering concrete results."

Laws and technical assistance are just tools, explained Ostojić, but the main value here is providing an opportunity for policemen from the region to master the skills they need to deal with challenges of organized crime today. Ostojić said that the US government had recognized Croatia's readiness to share its experience with the countries in the region. He said that it was necessary to promote the highest standards through cooperation between the police forces in the region while encountering the most complex forms of crime.

US Ambassador Kenneth Merten, whose country is financing the project with USD 675,000, said that the project was a unique example of regional cooperation, expressing hope that joint efforts would help integrate these countries as successfully as Croatia.

Croatia had travelled a difficult and demanding road to EU membership, said British Ambassador David Slinn, adding that the exchange of experience was crucial for the development of other countries in the region. The Croatian police service has done a lot in developing mechanisms to combat trafficking, organized crime and illegal migration and is now in a much better position to counter those challenges, Slinn said.

The five-module project is intended to improve the competence of police officers to combat various forms of transnational crime such as trafficking in people, drugs, arms and vehicles and cyber crime. Instruction will include the following topics: meeting EU accession standards, legislative frameworks and amendments in the area of organized crime, corruption, drug abuse and cyber crime, and cross-border policing.

As part of a larger effort to advise other countries in Southeast Europe on the rule of law and regional development in the context of EU accession, UNDP Regional Advisor Filip Dragović will introduce the participants to the EU negotiation process with a special emphasis on chapters 23 and 24 of the acquis communautaire, and EU security policies.