Agreement on cooperation of police forces in the region
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After 18 years, Serbia has returned two police helicopters to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Agreement on return of helicopters was signed on September 24 in Belgrade by Minister of Security of BiH Sadik Ahmetović and Minister of Internal Affairs of Serbia Ivica Dačić.
The helicopters were produced in the USA in early 1980s, types Bell 206L Long Ranger and Bell 206B Jet Ranger, which were owned by the then Ministry of Internal Affairs of Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina until 1992, when two police pilots took it and defected to Serbia.
These helicopters were used by notorious “red berets”, Serbia’s special police unit that has been engaged in wars in Croatia, BiH and Kosovo. The helicopters flew until 2004 when Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia placed them in a hangar of the Helicopter Unit of the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs at the “Nikola Tesla” International Airport in Surčin.
It has been agreed that the longer helicopter is given to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Federation of BiH, and the shorter one to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Republika Srpska. However, they will not be put in use right away, because they need to be overhauled and repaired. Ahmetović hopes this will not take long and that next year’s budget funds will be allocated for this purpose, because BiH needs these aircrafts.
Encouragement for pilots
Head of Helicopter Unit within the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the FBiH Nihad Mujkić, piloted these helicopters from the moment BiH purchased them until the war. He is very satisfied because they have been returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and believes this represents encouragement for continuation of development of aviation in our country. It is, he says, still early to talk about what repairs need to be done to make these helicopters fly again, since a thorough examination has not been done yet. However, Mujkić believes he will fly them again.
„I hope that standards in helicopter aviation in civil sector and police in BiH will be raised now“, this experienced pilot said.
Helicopters will, Ahmetović says, be used for police support, medical evacuations and other emergencies. Minister of Internal Affairs of Republika Srpska, Stanislav Čađo, who was present at the takeover, said that the helicopter given to Republika Srpska would not remain in the possession of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
„We will give it to civil structures, the Helicopter Service of Republika Srpska, hoping it will be overhauled and used exclusively for civil purposes, humanitarian needs and interventions which require fast transport and access to the ill“, Čađo said.
Before the helicopters were returned, ministers Ahmetović and Dačić had signed Agreement on Police Cooperation between the Council of Ministers of BiH and the Government of Serbia. This strengthens cooperation between BiH and Serbia in detecting risks to public safety and order, prevention and prosecution of criminal acts, safety in protection of state borders and border areas, education and professional training of staff and prevention of crime, protection of witnesses, deployment of liaison officers and protection of data.
These two agreements, Ahmetović believes, will contribute to enhancement of cooperation between the Ministry of Security of BiH and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia.
„We’ll continue coming up with new ideas whose only goal will be safety of citizens of BiH, Serbia and this part of Europe, so both countries will be able to focus on their foreign policy interests, and our entering the European Union together. We want to develop a security sector which will be compatible with the one in the EU, and thereby guarantee security to our citizens“, Ahmetović said.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia expects intensifying of police cooperation in fight against crime, terrorism and corruption. Dačić says that border police of the two countries will continue to cooperate closely „keeping in mind that the border between Serbia and BiH needs to be a well-guarded line, but that it must not hinder long-lasting communication and relations between people living on different sides“. He has announced that citizens of the two countries will continue crossing the border using nothing but their ID card.
„We’ll soon sign an agreement on cooperation in emergencies. So far, we have had successful cooperation with other security levels in BiH as well, including the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Republika Srpska, but also with other specialized agencies within the BiH security system“, Dačić said.
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He believes that Bosnia and Herzegovina, together with Serbia and Croatia, should become a part of a regional center which would serve as a tool in exchange of operational data. Dačić emphasizes that, without such cooperation, fight against organized crime will not reach its full potential. Due to cooperation of police forces of the neighboring countries, a number of concrete results have been reached – arrest of Elez’s group, successful operations against weapon and explosive smugglers and successful cooperation in investigations of war crimes between specialized services in BiH and Serbia.
Ahmetović supports the initiative that BiH joins Serbia and Croatia in cooperation at operational level and the establishing of this center. He has noted that Croatian Minister of Internal Affairs Tomislav Karamarko recently visited Sarajevo where they discussed cooperation.
„We’ll probably meet again in ten or fifteen days here in Belgrade at a conference where we’ll discuss ways for BiH to join this initiative, which will bring an even better and more functional cooperation between the three countries“, he said.
Agreements between police forces in the region are of exceptional importance, Ahmetović emphasized, because „criminals and mafia also cooperate well in this part of the Balkans, holding their meetings and planning“. It is therefore necessary, the BiH Minister believes, that the countries in the region reach a higher level of cooperation, so they would be a step ahead those presenting danger and bringing organized crime in this part of the western Balkans.
Photo: BiH Ministry of Security