A new Europol-led project, funded by the European Union, has been launched, focused on strengthening the capacity of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine to fight organised crime more effectively. The project will contribute to reducing crime and creating a safer living space for citizens in the region.
Through this four-year initiative, Europol will support cooperation between law enforcement authorities, both on a strategic and operational level. Special funding will enable the Eastern Partner countries to participate in operational activities against some of the ten most significant threats to EU security listed under the EU Policy Cycle. Existing networks for information sharing and operational cooperation may be further extended into joint investigations to improve the effectiveness in fighting transnational organised crime.
“This initiative is an important step in developing strong operational cooperation and trust between the law enforcement authorities of the EU Member States and our Eastern partners,” said Catherine De Bolle, Executive Director of Europol. “Our aligned efforts will bring a stronger response to the common challenges and cross-border threats we face.”
Lawrence Meredith, Director for Neighbourhood East at the European Commission, stated: “Organised crime networks operate across national borders and destabilise the entire region. Tackling serious and organised crime is a shared challenge by the European Union and its partner countries. By strengthening the strategic and operational cooperation between Europol and partner countries, we are proud to contribute to joint investigation successes.”
Located along the Black Sea and forming part of the ‘heroin route’ from the Middle East to Europe, all six Eastern Partner countries are threatened by organised criminal groups active in the area. These groups are involved in migrant smuggling, organised property crime, trafficking in human beings, firearms and drug trafficking, money laundering, and other related crimes such as document fraud. These criminal syndicates threaten not only the safety and security of people, but also the stability of the Eastern Partnership region and of the whole EU. More cooperation between law enforcement authorities of EU Member States and the Eastern Neighbourhood countries is crucial to improving the effectiveness of the common response to organised crime across borders.
As part of a larger €10 million EU cooperation initiative, the EU has dedicated €2.5 million to support the project that will run for the next four years. Two other components are focused on law enforcement training and threat assessment (a project led by Cepol with the participation of Europol) and on criminal asset recovery (managed by the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute - UNICRI).
Armenia continues its provocative policy against Azerbaijan. On July 12, the Armenian armed forces violated the ceasefire and fired at the positions of the Azerbaijani armed forces in the direction of the Tovuz region of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border using artillery. As a result, soldiers of the Azerbaijani Army were killed.
The statement came from Farid Shahbazli, Editor-in-chief of Azerbaijan's Editor.az news agency and chairman of the Reformist Youth Public Union. He noted that as a result of retaliatory fire and counter-offensive measures of the Azerbaijani armed forces, the attack of the Armenian armed forces was prevented. The Azerbaijani Armed Forces are monitoring the situation. The Armenian side has not been able to acquire any territory.
Shahbazli noted that the militarization of the state border with Armenia and the deliberate targeting of civilians continue systematically:
"Armenia is trying to involve its military-political organizations in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, to evade responsibility for the occupation and aggression against Azerbaijan. Armenia's aggression against Azerbaijan for 30 years and provocations on the border, as well as contradicts the legal documents of the military-political organization. Armenia is trying to justify its policy of aggression and deceive international organizations.
Armenia has occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions of Azerbaijan by launching a military aggression against Azerbaijan in gross violation of the UN Charter and other international legal obligations. UN Security Council Resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884 demand the full and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan".
According to Farid Shahbazli, the provocation committed by Armenia on the border is another proof of official Yerevan's lack of interest in resolving the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict through negotiations.
While the world community is fighting against COVID-19, this act of attack and provocation was committed by Armenia. This situation and Armenia's continued ceasefire violation prove once again that Armenia's support for the UN Secretary-General's global ceasefire initiative in connection with COVID-19 is nothing but hypocrisy.
We call on the international community to strongly condemn Armenia's policy of aggression against Azerbaijan and its provocations on the border.
Farid Shahbazli, Editor-in-chief of Azerbaijan's Editor.az