On 18 – 20 May 2010, the Republic of Bulgaria, with support from Sweden and CEPOL’s External Relations Working Group, organised a CEPOL conference at the Academy of the Ministry of Interior in Sofia entitled “Police Cooperation - Western Balkans”.
This event attracted great interest due to it coinciding with Bulgaria’s chair of the Convention for Police Cooperation in South Eastern Europe for the first half of 2010. Moreover, the conference’s European dimension was heightened by the presence of CEPOL Director Dr. Ferenc Bánfi and Salvatore Siena, Deputy Chair of the External Relations Working Group, as lecturers.
During the official opening of the conference, Associate Prof. Dr. Veselin Vuchkov, Deputy Minister of the Interior, said: “Bulgaria has been carrying out a consistent policy of support for EU integration of Western Balkan countries and perceives this process as a key instrument in the establishment of long-term stability and security, economic prosperity and good neighbourhood relations in the region”.
Further addresses were delivered by Associate Prof. Dr. Yordan Penev, Rector of the Academy of the Ministry of Interior and Pedro Hernandez Cereceda , Attache of Internal Affairs at the Spanish Embassy in Sofia.
The Conference was attended by:
- Eleven lecturers from the CEPOL Secretariat, External Relations Working Group, Association of European Police Colleges (AEPC), Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC), Interpol, Europol, Southeast European Cooperative Initiative (SECI) Center in Romania, Slovenia, Sweden and the Southeast Europe Police Chiefs Association (SEPCA);
- Six trainers from different European ministries of Foreign Affairs and ministries of the Interior;
- Thirty-two representatives from EU Member States and Western Balkan countries, all of which were either senior police officers involved in European police cooperation, directors of police training academies or heads of training institutions.
The conferences main topics included EU bodies, mechanisms and regional initiatives in the field of police cooperation as instruments to strengthen the European perspective in Western Balkans countries such as Interpol, Europol, Frontex, SEPCA, SECI, Convention for police cooperation in the South Eastern Europe, European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), Schengen.
Equally important was the topic of training police officers under the auspices of CEPOL and the AEPC, enhancing international police cooperation through exchange programmes, developing science and research activities and the harmonisation of training systems. Achieving these results requires enhancing the quality of training for future police officers and updating the qualifications of current senior officers.
The Rector of the Academy was pleased to have a bilateral meeting with the CEPOL Director where they discussed several ideas and opinions, mainly in the field of enhancing efficiency in the training of senior police officers and the application of common curricula in training processes. The Rector also explained that in order to raise awareness of CEPOL in Bulgaria, police cadets are being invited to attend CEPOL activities hosted at the Academy.
Feedback from lecturers and the participants indicated the event was successful. It served as a platform for exchanging experience and knowledge between EU Member States and Western Balkan countries as well as strengthening the network of police officers in Europe with competencies in the field of police cooperation and police training.