Tuesday, January 15, 2008


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (January 15,2008) – Head of the European Union Police Mission in Bosnia (EUPM), Brigadier General Vincenzo Coppola, said yesterday that the EUPM will make the fight against organised crime a top priority for 2008.

Following a meeting with the Slovenian Ambassador and representative of the EU Presidency in Bosnia, Natasa Vodusek, General Coppola informed journalists at a news conference in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo about the extended mandate of the mission.

The EU Police Mission was extended for another two years following an invitation of the Bosnian authorities in 2007. The new mandate is based on three pillars:
1. Support to the fight against organised crime
2. Support to the police reform process
3. Strengthening police accountability

General Coppola assessed the security situation and the professional standards of the Bosnian police forces as fair. He pointed out, however, that major improvements can only be made after a meaningful police reform.

“Complex investigations and police operations against high profile criminals such as the one currently ongoing in Sarajevo cannot be executed in an efficient way without a meaningful police reform,” Coppola said.

“I am convinced that one of the reasons why it took so long to arrest the main targets is due to the fact that the prosecutor had to coordinate three different police forces. This case clearly shows that the current system is favouring only the criminals,” he said.

Presenting other priorities for 2008, General Coppola discussed the need for a closer and more trustful relationship between police and prosecution.

“We consider this a key issue. Police and Prosecutors have to understand that they are one team. This is not always the case. Within our mandate, we will continue to push for better coordination and cooperation between police and prosecutors,” Coppola said.

He concluded by saying that EU Police Mission will in 2008 and 2009 monitor, advise and inspect the local police at all levels.

„A reformed police will unlock many obstacles. I am encouraged by the efforts of the Working Group for Police Reform. In addition to that,the Bosnian State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) has to become fully staffed and fully operational. We will assist the local law enforcement agencies at all levels with our expertise. And I am confident that together we will make real progress in the coming two years,” Coppola stated.

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