Updated at 23:19,25-10-2016

EU to support police cooperation with EaP participating countries

The European Commission has adopted a new program of cooperation among the police forces of EU member states and Eastern Partnership participating countries.

The total budget of the four-year Eastern Partnership Police Cooperation Program is €5 million, according to the EU Neighborhood Info Center.

Adopted at the end of December, the Eastern Partnership Police Cooperation Program will give an impetus to cooperation between EU and Eastern Partnership participating countries and among EaP countries themselves in the prevention of cross-border crime, the Center said.

"Trust in law enforcement agencies is one of the cornerstones needed to build a sustainable democracy and we believe that cooperation in the police services can greatly enhance law and order in the countries of our Eastern neighbours," Stefan Fule, the European Union's commissioner for enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, was quoted as saying. "The Eastern Partnership Police Cooperation Programme aims at ambitious but important targets. Law enforcement reform – including the police reform – is one of the main benchmarks against which the EU will assess progress and adapt its levels of support to our Eastern partners."

The program provides for a series of activities such as study tours, exchange projects, training and meetings to facilitate networking and build partnerships and trust among the police forces of the EU and EaP countries, the Center said.

Specialized training in police management and fighting cross-border crime will be supported within the framework of the program and so will be exchange of best practice, the Center said.

"The Eastern Partnership Police Cooperation Programme is designed to reflect the required reforms of the law enforcement sector to support progress towards deep and sustainable democracy within the European Neighbourhood region," the Center said. The program is also an important deliverable of the Eastern Partnership Roadmap, which also refers to cooperation between law enforcement agencies, the Center said.

The Delegation of the European Union to Belarus told BelaPAN that as a country involved in Eastern Partnership, Belarus was welcome to participate in the police cooperation program and submit proposals for various projects.

The Eastern Partnership was launched at a summit in Prague, the Czech Republic, on May 7, 2009 with 33 countries participating: the 27 member states of the EU and six partner countries (Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, and Belarus). The program is aimed at enhancing and improving the EU's political and economic cooperation with these six post-Soviet countries from a long-term perspective.

Following the violent dispersal of a post-election protest in Minsk on December 19, 2010, the EU suspended high-level contacts with the Belarusian government. Belarus refused to take part in an Eastern Partnership summit in Warsaw in 2011 and a meeting of foreign ministry officials of the Visegrad Group and European Partnership participating countries in Prague in 2012.