Magazine article Presidents & Prime Ministers , Vol. 10, No. 3
Ministers welcomed the fact that, for the first time in the history of the region, in all their countries they have democratically elected governments, thus creating more favorable conditions for strengthening their relations and cooperation in the South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) framework. They welcomed in this context the restoration of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Albania and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
They reviewed in this friendly atmosphere the state of their countries cooperation in the various fields indicated in the charter and conducted consultations on the major political and security issues of their region.
Ministers reaffirmed that regional cooperation and solidarity are an important contribution to their countries' common orientation towards European integration. All SEECP countries now participate in the European integration processes. They highlighted in this context the importance of the decisions of the Zagreb Summit. They welcomed the first Stabilization and Association Agreement signed on April 9, 2001 in Luxembourg by the Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski and the representatives of the European Union (EU) and its member states. They also welcomed the initialing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the Republic of Croatia and expressed their expectation that the EU will sign soon similar agreements with other SEECP countries in line with the ongoing process.
Ministers appraised NATO's and other countries' contribution in building peace and stability in South Eastern Europe. They emphasized that the integration of South East European countries into European and Euro-Atlantic structures will further strengthen the security in the region.
Ministers recalled their countries' commitment in the Action Plan for the Regional Economic Cooperation adopted at the Skopje Macedonia Summit, to promote their countries' cooperation in the fields of justice, combat against organized crime and corruption, elimination of terrorism, illicit drugs, arms and human trafficking, through bilateral and multilateral frameworks, including the means and facilities offered by regional cooperation initiatives.
They noted with interest the initiative of the Albanian government to establish in Vlora a Regional Center for Combating Illicit Trafficking in collaboration with some other countries, as well as the invitation extended to other countries in the region to contribute to the establishment and functioning of the center.
Ministers considered that the meeting of the Ministers of Public Order and Internal Affairs of the SEECP countries, which will take place in Tirana, as well as the forthcoming Regional Conference in Bucharest on Combating Human Trafficking and Illegal Immigration, will provide an opportunity to enhance regional cooperation in these fields, including the examination of issues such as the strengthening of coordination and information capabilities between the countries and relevant institutions.
Ministers, in this context, addressed as well the importance of collecting unauthorized small arms. Ministers appreciated the efforts of the Special Coordinator of the Stability Pact for South East Europe and his staff and endorsed his initiative to hold a comprehensive regional conference in Bucharest on October 25-26, 2001. They welcomed the special coordinator's report on the Quick Start Project package and urged rapid implementation of all projects by donors and recipients alike.
Ministers expressed their deep concern on recent developments in the Tetovo and Kumanovo areas. They strongly condemned the terrorist acts threatening the security and stability of the country as well as of the region as a whole. They called on the ethnic Albanian extremist groups to cease this armed violence, release the hostages, lay down their weapons and withdraw immediately. They expressed their full support and respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and the inviolability of the borders of the country. …