After the European Commission presented the Action Plan of the European Union for the Western Balkan migration route, the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina reiterated its commitment to follow the EU’s common migration management policy, bearing in mind that BiH is soon expecting candidate status for EU membership.
The Ministry of Security of BiH confirmed this for FENA and stated that one of the steps BiH should take is to ensure effective coordination at all levels in border and migration management and the improvement of the asylum system.
“The countries of the Western Balkans are expected to strengthen the fight against people smuggling, organized crime networks and better border protection, and BiH is ready to make its contribution to border protection and thus general security in the EU,” they said.
At the request of the Ministry of Security of BiH, the European Union allocated 6.4 million euros for the protection of the borders of BiH. These funds are planned for the procurement of equipment for border protection and surveillance, such as drones, thermal imaging cameras, video surveillance systems, surveillance vehicles and communication networks.
Also, the EU will support the training of Border Police officers and the engagement of additional police officers, and the focus is also on the fight against people smuggling, where BiH will play an important role in cutting criminal networks.
When it comes to Bosnia and Herzegovina it is expected to receive a proposal for a new agreement with FRONTEX soon, so that negotiations can be started and then the agreement on cooperation and the mandate of FRONTEX can be concluded.
The Ministry stated that when it comes to cooperation with the European Union in that area, the conclusion of the Working Arrangement between the Border Police of BiH and FRONTEX is also in process.
Since one of the EU’s requirements is that the Western Balkans countries harmonize their visa policy with the EU, the Ministry of Security told FENA that Bosnia and Herzegovina has a defined visa regime with most high-risk countries, i.e. countries from which the largest number of migrants come.
“In this sense, Bosnia and Herzegovina has a largely coordinated visa policy with the EU, so the issue of the entry of illegal migrants through countries that have a visa-free regime has never concerned Bosnia and Herzegovina, but individual neighboring countries,” they explained further.
They point out that in the last few months there has been an increase in the number of migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina from Burundi, India, Ghana and Cuba, which is a consequence of Serbia’s visa-free regime with these countries.
The action plan for the EU’s Western Balkan route also includes strengthening the readmission process, and BiH has signed such an agreement only with Pakistan, which significantly contributed to the reduction of the number of migrants coming from this country precisely because of the possibility of returning to their country.
The Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina has initiated negotiations for the signing of an agreement on readmission with all countries that are the source of migration. Some of these countries are not willing to sign this type of agreement and propose direct bilateral cooperation or signing a memorandum of cooperation in that area.
They add that thanks to all the measures taken, the current situation in the area of migration in BiH is satisfactory and there are around 1,500 migrants in four temporary reception centers, which is a significant decrease compared to previous years.
For this reason, two reception centers in BiH have been closed in the previous period, and the plan is to continue taking over the management of migration in BiH from the competent institutions of BiH, because in previous years this was mainly done by international organizations, and financed by the European Union with around 90 million euros, the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina said.