Terrorism, corruption and organized crime are the main threats in SEE Associated_Press - 2004/10/28
Terrorism, corruption and organized crime are the main threats to regional security in southeastern Europe, officials said Friday at an international meeting of senior politicians and military figures.
The security conference was focusing on the roles of NATO and the European Union in addressing new risks and their implications for the region.
Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Plamen Panayotov identified terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction as principal global risks. He also listed corruption, organized crime and illegal trafficking in humans, weapons and drugs as threats to security.
"Terrorism is closely connected with organized crime ... and this crime ignores boundaries, which makes it a problem of the countries of southeastern Europe, western Europe, or any other part of the world,"
said Montenegrin Interior Minister Dragan Djurovic. NATO Deputy Secretary-General Alessandro Minuto Rizzo said the alliance "has built very strong partnerships with the region, but there are challenges that still need to be addressed, such as instability in Kosovo, organized crime and illegal migration."
Rizzo said the process of NATO's transformation involves a transition from territorial defense to peacekeeping. He also urged Macedonians to use an upcoming referendum to approve legislation granting ethnic Albanians greater autonomy, describing the decentralization law as "a cornerstone" in the integration of Macedonia in the Euro-Atlantic community.
The Nov. 7 referendum was demanded by the Macedonian nationalist opposition, which wants to stop plans to reduce the number of municipalities in Macedonia and give control over a dozen of them to ethnic Albanians, who make up about a quarter of Macedonia's 2.2 million people.
Rizzo said the worldwide expansion of terrorism and proliferation has pushed NATO "to move beyond a purely 'Eurocentric' alliance" and to expand its role in crisis areas such as Afghanistan and Iraq.
Rizzo stressed, however, that while the Afghanistan mission was NATO's "top priority," in Iraq the military alliance would not go beyond its role in training Iraq's new armed forces.