Today, in the margins of the ministerial meeting of Western Balkans’ Home Affairs Ministers being held in Skopje, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos endorsed an arrangement for the implementation of the Western Balkans Joint Action Plan on Counterterrorism, together with the Minister of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dragan Mektić.
The signing of the arrangement responds to the recommendation to Bosnia and Herzegovina to strengthen the prevention and fight against terrorism, as highlighted in the Commission Opinion on its application for membership of the European Union. The arrangement is an expression of determination, from both the European Commission and the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to strengthen cooperation on countering terrorism and violent extremism.
The arrangement identifies concrete priority actions on countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism, which the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities should take in the course of 2019 and 2020. It covers all five objectives of the Joint Action Plan (PDF) agreed between the EU and its Western Balkans in October 2018.
The priority actions being endorsed today include:
- Reviewing the Counterterrorism Strategy for the period after 2020, including ensuring the efficient investigation and prosecution of returning Foreign Terrorist Fighters; addressing the challenges presented by their return such as effective rehabilitation and reintegration, both theirs and that of other radicalised persons – in and outside prisons.
- Complementing the criminal code to align it with EU legislation and close gaps in the criminalisation of terrorism-related offenses. Making the high-security State prison operational.
- Expediting the overdue setting up of a Europol National Contact Point to enhance cooperation with Europol; pro-actively exchange information with Europol on returning Foreign Terrorist Fighters; and taking a series of measures against money laundering and terrorist financing, including the setting up of an asset recovery office and a beneficial ownership register of legal persons.
The Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities intend to report biannually to the Commission on the state of implementation, including in terms of any difficulties they might be facing.
The arrangement also indicates envisaged Commission support in this regard, such as support through the EU’s Radicalisation Awareness Network and the EU-Council of Europe Horizontal Facility.