|On February 9, 2004 CSD hosted a Policy Workshop to present a draft structure of the Action Plan for improving the effectiveness of border controls against smuggling, on the basis of an analytical report developed by a joint task force of CSD and government experts.
CSD Chairman Dr. Ognian Shentov opened the meeting highlighting the importance of the public-private partnership approach which has been applied by the Center in assessing cross-border smuggling. UK Ambassador Jeremy Hill put a stress on the significant international impact of trafficking of human beings and drug trafficking. Cross border crime is no longer simply a law enforcement issue, but has wider social and economic ramifications. He expressed hope that the initiative will enhance the cooperation and will facilitate the sharing of experience on these issues between the two countries.
The main findings of the Task Force were presented by Tihomir Bezlov and Philip Gounev, CSD research fellows and members to the task force. Mr. Bezlov outlined the main problems which have been identified in the draft report touching upon the role of the borders as regards to the functioning of the internal market.
Deputy Minister of Interior Boyko Kotzev briefly commented to the analysis of the task force and recommended more active cooperation with the private sector, including business associations. He said that the project was timely in view to the forthcoming negotiations on the Schengen Facility agreement and the establishment of an Agency for Border Control. Minister Kotzev also underlined the importance of the multidisciplinary approach facilitating the sharing of information between experts representing all state agencies which secure the smooth movement of goods and people through the national borders.
General Roumen Milanov, Director of the National Service for Combating Organized Crime and Mr. Assen Assenov, Director of the Customs Agency, shared the view that the analysis needs a narrower focus depending on the expected results – enhancing border crossing security to prevent organized crime or eliminating obstacles to cross-border trade. Mr. Assenov added that the volume of transported goods through the different border crossing points should be taken into account, and the specific characteristics of the sea ports in contrast to the land borders. He also pointed out that the achievements of Customs and international cooperation to prevent trafficking should be taken into account as well.
In conlcusion, Minister Kotzev said that the enhanced cooperation between the institutions will facilitate the implementation of a National Strategy for Integrated Approach to Border Control. He expressed hope that the analysis and policy recommendations would not only reflect the present situation but will rather lead to an easier day-to-day operation at the border check-points.
Ambassador Hill pointed out that he was encouraged by the CSD work and is looking forward to the final conclusions of the analytical report and the Action Plan.
Trafficking and Corruption in Bulgaria: Monitoring and Prevention project