IOM Welcomes Step to Enhance Coordination at Turkey’s Shared European Borders

Posted: 
03/18/16
Themes: 
Integrated Border Management

Turkey - IOM Turkey welcomes the 10th March ratification of an agreement enhancing cooperation at Turkey’s land borders with Bulgaria and Greece to combat irregular activities at borders (including irregular migration and other types of cross border crime) and facilitate the legitimate movement of persons and goods across the borders.

On 10 March, the Turkish Parliament ratified the ‘Agreement between the Government of The Republic of Turkey, The Government of The Republic of Bulgaria and The Government of The Hellenic Republic on Establishment and Functioning of a Common Contact Centre for Police and Customs Cooperation’. This agreement, originally signed in May 2015, will increase authorities’ abilities to combat irregular migration, human trafficking, drug trafficking, organized crime, and other serious crimes at the common borders. Improved information exchange will also strengthen cooperation between police and customs officials of Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. 

“This agreement lays the foundation for enhanced regional border cooperation.  Last year, over 800,000 migrants and refugees crossed into Greece and Bulgaria from Turkey. So far this year, irregular migration continues at an alarming rate with around 150,000 people reaching Europe from Turkey, an increase of over 3,000 percent from the previous year,” said Lado Gvilava, IOM Turkey Chief of Mission.

“Until the root causes of what is causing this mass movement of people are addressed, we will continue to have large migratory flows through the region,” continued Gvilava. “Enhanced regional cooperation among border agencies is a concrete step for Turkey, Greek and Bulgaria to work together to combat irregular movements of both people and illicit goods.”

IOM Turkey is committed to its ongoing partnership with the Turkish, Greek and Bulgarian officials to strengthen regional border management policies. IOM Turkey works closely with the Turkish government to advise and support on the drafting and implementation of migration-related legislation and policies.

Following the trilateral signing of the agreement, IOM Turkey facilitated a regional seminar in Edirne, Turkey in September 2015 to establish the operational and logistical procedures of the regional contact centre. EU experts were on hand to share current best practices in previously established Cooperation Centres. In October 2015, IOM Turkey facilitated a study visit hosted by the Polish Border Guard at the Polish-German Cooperation Centre and Polish-German Joint Border Post. Participants discussed structure, workflows, information-sharing channels and best practices for external cooperation. 

As irregular migration flows are expected to increase in the upcoming months, IOM Turkey will continue to support staff at the common contact centre to further coordinate operational activities.

For further information, please contact Abby Dwommoh, IOM Turkey, Tel: +90 312 455 1202, Email: MediaIOMTurkey@iom.int