Slovenia hosts international conference on illegal immigration and organised crime

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Interior ministers from 14 south-eastern European countries gathered outside the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana on Tuesday for a conference on illegal immigration and organised crime. Countries from south-eastern Europe have already been cooperating for a number of years in order to prevent illegal immigration, human trafficking and other types of crimes. Since Slovenia joined the EU in May, this year's conference was the first to be held on EU soil. It was also the first to include Greece and Turkey.

Slovenia's minister of internal affairs, Dr. Rado Bohinc:

"The 14 Balkan countries have strongly agreed to commit themselves to control the Balkan criminal road, over which runs not only illegal immigration, but also different kinds of illicit trading, trafficking in people, dangerous substances, stolen vehicles, drugs, highly taxed products and so on. Only regional cooperation can be effective. I am delighted that several countries are seriously cooperating in the breaking up of organized crime syndicates. Therefore, we will continue with our work, now and in the future."

The pressure of refugees and other illegal immigrants are, obviously, mostly felt by members of the European Union. Therefore, they are keenly interested in cooperating against this phenomenon. Austrian Interior Minister Dr. Strasser:

"I am thankful to note that Slovenia is, for the fourth time, bringing together these countries, here in the vicinity of Ljubljana, to achieve a common strategy to deal with the question of immigration. I think that today's conference brought some exceptional results, which are very strongly supported by Austria - i.e. the equal distribution of the burden which we, justifiably, support since individual countries which have specific geographic challenges should not be called upon to shoulder more expenses than others."

Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro and Bosnia Hercegovina are countries from which many organized crimes originate from, notably illegal immigration, human trafficking, and other illicit activities. And Croatia who until recently still threw a blind eye to these problems, now intends to deal with them more seriously in the future. Croatian interior minister Dr Marjan Mlinaric:

Of the countries in the European Union, Greece is (next to Italy) the most exposed to the pressure of illegal immigrants because of its geographical position. Leading the Greek delegation at the conference was ambassador Nikolaidis:

"One of the main problems we have is not only the illegal immigrants, but the trafficking of human beings, women, coming from various countries in the area (through organized networks) who come to work in Greece, which come for purposes for which they are not supposed to come, and other related issues."

No matter what their specific problems may be, each of the conference attendees agreed that these problems won't go away soon, and that they can best be battled together.