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State Secretary dr. Branko Lobnikar inaugurated the eighth annual meeting of the Pompidou Group’s South-East Europe Airports Group with an opening address. The two-day meeting held in Ljubljana was organised by the Council of Europe and the Slovenian criminal police, current holder of the Group’s presidency.


The international meeting was attended by 30 police and customs experts from 15 countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia, Hungary, Romania, Belgium and Slovenia), who work in combatting the traffic of illicit drugs at the airports, with the focus on the Western-Balkans route.


"Investigating these offences, perpetrators, and criminal groups can be challenging for the Slovenian police, who nevertheless address this successfully thanks to efficient international cooperation," the State Secretary complimented the work of Slovenian criminal investigators. He added that illicit drug trafficking at EU airports has been increasing, due to the growing use of post and delivery services for their distribution.

He wished the participants a fruitful exchange of views and experiences, which can contribute to greater success in their work efforts, where they are facing many practical obstacles: differences in legislation, logistic and other obstacles. "The conference is also important for further development of operational measures and closer international cooperation in tackling the smuggling of illicit drugs," dr. Lobnikar concluded.


Slovenian police recognise the importance of the Council of Europe’s Pompidou Group. Operational cooperation between Slovenian police and other law enforcement authorities is highly beneficial, while close connections and up-to-date and standing cooperation of all the partners are essential for the success of investigations in the field. Key factors for efficient and evidence-based drugs policies include a multidisciplinary and balanced approach through all the layers of society in thorough respect of human rights.

The past years have seen a great expansion of the scope and complexity of the work on the operational level, with criminal investigations of drug trafficking offences reaching huge international proportions. Exchange of information, establishment of new methods, exchange of best practices, training, upgrading as well as continuous seeking of new options jointly contribute to the success in combating the smuggling of illicit drugs, with airports being no exception.