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Kosovo needs to show more political determination and implement concrete in order to become a full member of INTERPOL.

By Aleksandra Lazić (BCSP) / Photo: Uaposition 

The fight against crime – such as organized crime, human trafficking or the smuggling of migrants – has taken on an international dimension. There is a need for cooperation in order to stay one step ahead of criminals and terrorists. Following this line of reasoning, it is in the common interest to support Kosovo to become a part of INTERPOL. This is one of the issues covered in a recent report by the Kosovar Centre for Security Studies (KCSS).

What Are the Opportunities?

The Western Balkans can only profit from Kosovo joining international security organizations such as INTERPOL, especially when it comes to preventing and combating transnational crime.

Albanian-speaking organized crime groups are already present in 19 EU Member States and the Schengen Associated States. Such groups can be composed of persons not only from Kosovo but also of Albania, Macedonia, and Serbia. Some of them hold EU citizenship.

Criminal groups are active in wide range of crime areas, such as drug trafficking, the facilitation of irregular migration, money-laundering and fraud, trafficking in human beings, the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons and returning foreign terrorist fighters.

Exchange information through INTERPOL channels with the participation of law enforcement from Kosovo can only be a beneficiary in combating crime for the whole region.

What Are the Challenges?

Kosovo focused on international police cooperation since 2015 with the application for membership into INTERPOL submitted for the second time. The police in Kosovo currently indirectly collaborates with INTERPOL through UNMIK and this is deemed an unsatisfactory long-term solution.

The process came to a standstill after the application for membership was submitted to the Secretary General of INTERPOL. The application has not yet been passed for review either to the Executive Committee or by the General Assembly.

One of the reasons for these difficulties is the lack of inter-institutional cooperation. It has been emphasized that the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kosovo need to better coordinate their activities. The report further reveals that there is no information about the current activities of the working group that deals with INTERPOL membership process. Kosovo’s application is not expected to be reviewed until 2018-2019.

The Kosovo institutions since 2008 have not really committed themselves to moving from statements to actions when it comes to acquiring membership in regional and international security organizations. The Kosovo government failed to take advantage of the implementation of the Brussels Agreement on regional representation and cooperation that was reached with Serbia.

Apart from these internal challenges, one of the most pressing external challenges arises from Kosovo’s weak bilateral cooperation with Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Meanwhile, Serbia remains more than reluctant to support Kosovo in its efforts to become a member of INTERPOL.

The KCSS report was created by the support of a Kosovo Foundation for Open Society. The aim of the report is to provide the Kosovo government and other relevant stakeholders with a clearer understanding of the challenges and opportunities regarding the accession process into international security organizations, with particular emphasis on INTERPOL.

TAGS: Book ReviewExternal OversightKosovoOrganized CrimePolice Cooperation