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Considering the long-term efforts of the European Union to provide peace, stability and prosperity in the Western Balkans, and the fact that this region as a whole is one of the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency, the European Police College (College européen de police (CEPOL)) organised a conference on police cooperation with the Western Balkan countries in the field of education and training of police officers.

The conference took place on Slovenia's initiative and was held from 17 to 19 March 2008 in Bled. It was devoted to making contacts and establishing relations between the European Union and the Western Balkan countries in the field of education and training of police officers.

skupna dinamicna The conference was opened by Zvonko Zinrajh, State Secretary at the Slovenian Ministry of the Interior.

The participants were Nevenka Tomovič, Chair of the CEPOL Governing Board; Franc Kosmač, Director of the Police College; Sandi Čurin, National Coordinator for the Fight against Trafficking in Human Beings in the Republic of Slovenia; Ulf Göransson, Director of CEPOL; directors of police colleges and senior police officers responsible for education and training in the Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Serbia); representatives of European Union Member States (Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Hungary, Germany, Romania) and Switzerland as an associated member, Europol, Frontex, the OSCE and the Council of Europe.

The first day was dedicated to the presentation of the activities and goals of CEPOL and its cooperation with non-members. All the Western Balkan countries presented their police education programmes, which was followed by presentations of Europol, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and Frontex. The second day was mostly devoted to Organised Crime Threat Assessment (OCTA)as an important source of establishing needs in the police education process. The reform of the police education system in Germany was presented as an example of the changes that are taking place in police education all over Europe. There is no EU requirement for unification of the education system; however, there are standards that both the Member States and candidate countries must adopt.


After the conference, Nevenka Tomovič, Chair of the CEPOL Governing Board, said: "The discussions focused on possibilities of cooperation in the field of police education and training, especially in the fight against organised crime, between the CEPOL members and the Western Balkans countries. CEPOL, which organises about 80 such courses for police officers every year, will examine possibilities of including police officers from these countries in their training courses.

It is a fact that systems of police education are changing, as we are looking for the best and most appropriate ways of equipping police officers for the needs of tomorrow. The presentations of other European organisations and agencies were also very useful. It was suggested that a similar conference should be organised again next year."


Norbert Leitner, Director of the Austrian police education institution (Sicherheitsakademie) and representative of the Association of European Police Colleges (AEPC), emphasized the importance of such conferences from the point of view of networking and exchange of experience.


Émile Perez, Head of CEPOL External Relations Working Group and Director of Education Directorate of the French police, pointed out that representatives of the Western Balkan countries, EU Member States and various EU organisations were willing to change their existing practices in order to improve them. "These changes need to be put into practice in accordance with the needs of each particular country. Our cultures, laws and histories differ, however, we share the same democratic values. Cooperation with the candidate countries in the framework of CEPOL is already under way, and with the help of the Slovenian Presidency we want to establish contacts with other countries in the region as well."


Ljiljana Dapćević - Marković, representative of the Serbian Academy of Criminalistic and Police Studies, said that the Serbian police had been undergoing a reform and depoliticisation since 2001. Education of police officers is carried out in accordance with the Bologna process. Their goal is to draw closer to the European standards and practices.

During the Slovenian Presidency, representatives of CEPOL will meet again in May at the 12th meeting of the CEPOL Governing Board in Bled, where they will discuss the 2007 activity report.

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