A photo overview of the most significant achievements of EUBAM and its Partner Services in August – November 2021.
On 17 December, EUBAM together with Europol, Frontex, UNODC, OSCE, and representatives of law enforcement agencies from Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova convened the fourth operational meeting of the Arms Working Group in a video-conference format.
In the course of the meeting, the participants discussed activities implemented by the group over the past year, namely in the fields of enhancement of cooperation, analytical support, operational capacity building, as well as joint operations and investigations. International experts presented to Ukrainian and Moldovan law enforcers a comprehensive assessment of current threats related to illicit trade in weapons, ammunitions, and explosives in Europe. In their turn, law enforcement experts from the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine presented recent cases and trends in the field of illegal arms detection at the BCPs and in the border area. In the end, the participants discussed the plans of the group for 2022.
The Head of EUBAM, General Slawomir Pichor highlighted the productive work the group demonstrates for the second year in a row and commented, “When it comes to combat such somber phenomenon as illicit firearms trafficking, Arms Working Group has proved itself as a platform of the utmost importance, for it helps to consolidate the knowledge, experiences, and efforts of Moldovan and Ukrainian law enforcement agencies as well as international actors, at the same time strengthening joint countermeasures against the smuggling of arms, ammunition, and explosives.”
On 30 November 2021, the 37th Advisory Board Meeting of the European Union Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine took place in an online format. The event brought together representatives from the Foreign Ministries, border, customs and law enforcement agencies of the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, the European Union Delegations to the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, the International Organization for Migration, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and United Nations Development Programme.
The Advisory Board warmly welcomed its new chairman, His Excellency, Ambassador Jānis Mažeiks and got acquainted with an overview of activities performed by the Mission for the period of June – October 2021. The participants acknowledged the progress in the implementation of EUBAM 12 Action Plan, expressing their satisfaction with the continuous and active cooperation among the Mission and its Partner Services.
EU Ambassador to the Republic of Moldova, Jānis Mažeiks reiterated EU‘s commitment to build strong relations with its closest neighbours, based on genuine partnership. EUBAM is, in that respect, an illustration on how the EU continuously supports this objective, for the benefit of Moldovan and Ukrainian citizens: “I would like to congratulate all partners on the successful implementation of EUBAM 12 phase and to express our gratitude for their efforts, despite the challenges faced during this period of implementation. EUBAM continues to play a key role in promoting integrated border management and in fighting organized crime, and we would like to encourage all parties to continue their efforts for tangible results to be achieved in the coming months”.
The Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine, Matti Maasikas, said: “Recent crises have made the importance of a rapid and efficient coordination among cross-border agencies even clearer. The EU welcomes Ukraine’s readiness to re-criminalise smuggling to avoid losses to the state budget, to stop distorting competition among businesses and to ensure public health and safety. We are looking forward to having established legal and regulatory framework for criminalisation of large-scale smuggling including on jurisdiction for investigative mandate. We stand ready to support the agency mandated with investigative powers to develop the needed technical capacities. We also encourage Ukraine and Moldova to proceed carrying out joint border operations at the agreed border crossing points between the two countries and to expand joint control to other border crossing points along the common border, in accordance with the 2017 Agreement on Joint control, national IBM strategies and shared priorities. This is the best way to ensure people-to-people contacts, increase security and prevent cross border crime.”
Andrei Popov, the Head of Multilateral Cooperation Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Moldova noted: “We would like to highlight the valuable contribution that the EUBAM has brought during these years to the implementation of the integrated border management, strengthening of the institutional capacity, staff training and combating cross border crime. The EUBAM advisory board meetings remain an efficient platform where we can assess the results of our common efforts, discuss in a sincere and pragmatic way the aspects that should be improved, thus giving new impetus to our further fruitful cooperation. In this context, we would like to express our gratitude to the Mission for the activity carried out in the last five months taking also into consideration the challenging times we are facing. We are convinced that we should continuously work together in order to achieve tangible results, in particular on the full implementation of the integrated border management concept. In this context, we would like to reiterate our willingness to continue our enhanced cooperation and encourage EUBAM to keep the same proactive approach in order to achieve our common goals.”
Mr. Serhii Saienko, Deputy Director General of the Directorate for the European Union and the NATO of Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated: “Combating cross-border crime, including drug and illicit firearms trafficking, as in any other country, requires the consolidated efforts of law enforcement agencies. The EUBAM assisted Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova in developing a government-led approach with a strategic vision to address and prevent both, which became potential threat and challenge nowadays. I would like to re-iterate the commitment of Ukraine to continue diligently implementing in full the integrated border management concept under the specific objective 2 in partnership with EUBAM and our partners from the Republic of Moldova”.
Head of EUBAM, General Slawomir Pichor thanked all the participants for their valuable contributions and said: “The developments during the reporting period have proven that, despite challenging times, it was still possible for EUBAM and its partner services to adapt to the new circumstances and move forward with the implementation of the Action Plan. With that being said, I would like to restate my appreciation to all our Moldovan and Ukrainian Partners for their cooperation and support and assure that EUBAM will continue to stay the same committed partner for contributing to a qualitative change in border management.”
The Advisory Board Meeting will meet again in June 2022.
On 18 November, EUBAM has organized an online workshop on the application of random control in the risk analysis system for top management and officers of the State Customs Service of Ukraine. The Mission invited officers of the National Revenue Administration of the Republic of Poland to be the main speakers of the event. Representatives of the Customs Service of the Republic of Moldova also joined the workshop to broaden their knowledge on the matter.
Experts from the National Revenue Administration of the Republic of Poland introduced the participants to their approach towards basic principles, functions, and goals of random control. At the same time, the participants discussed conditions for proper functioning and effective implementation of the random control, paying special attention to practical aspects of this issue. Polish experts shared with their Ukrainian and Moldovan counterparts their experience in the implementation of random control into the risk analysis system and its effective usage in countering smuggling. At the end of the workshop, the Ukrainian and European customs professionals had a roundtable discussion on the implementation of random control within the State Customs Service of Ukraine.
Referring to the outcome of the workshop, the Head of EUBAM, general Slawomir Pichor said, “On the one hand, proper random control procedures help to counter non-compliance by companies that are well-aware of methods and measures applied by customs officers. On the other, its very random nature helps to minimize the risk of corruption’s influence on the illegal inflow of goods and contraband into the country. Because of these unpredictable checks, customs authorities stay alert and updated as risks constantly evolve with time. Thus, workshops like this, not only help our partners to get acquainted with the best European practices on the matter but also to establish a dialogue with their EU counterparts and exchange valuable practical experience.”
On 9-10 November, the EUBAM held the Annual Task Force Tobacco meeting in an online mode. Experts from law enforcement agencies of the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, Poland, and Romania, as well as SELEC, and OLAF, took part in this event. The business sector participated in the meeting as well, Ukrainian Tobacco Association “Ukrtutun”, KPMG International and the major cigarette producers providing their valuable insights on the matter.
There were two topical issues connected to the illicit tobacco products in the spotlight of the meeting, namely – cigarette smuggling and their illegal production. The Head of OLAF’s Sector Tobacco, Salvatore Catania provided the global overview on counterfeit cigarettes and the ways of tackling them. At the same time, Ukrainian and Moldovan law enforcers shared insights from their national perspective. In its turn, representatives from the EU agencies shared with their Ukrainian and Moldovan counterparts the most effective methods and ways of combatting illicit cigarette production. The business sector also presented its overview of the illicit cigarette markets in Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, showcasing the way they influence the European market of illegal tobacco products.
Vadym Melnyk, the Director of Bureau of Economic Security of Ukraine was a keynote speaker of the event. Mr. Melnyk acquainted the participants with the role of the newly created bureau in combatting cigarette-related frauds. He also raised problems and put forward proposals to limit the illicit trade in tobacco products. Debating on legislative aspect of combatting the illicit flow of tobacco products, the participants welcomed the Ukrainian initiative on criminalization of smuggling.
In the course of the meeting, EUBAM shared the results of the Joint Border Control Operation “SCORPION II”, during which 8,5 million cigarettes were seized. The Task Force Tobacco highly appreciated the work EUBAM did, at the same time urging the Moldovan and Ukrainian responsible agencies to investigate the origins of certain cigarettes seized during the operation and take appropriate action.
“Despite undertaken legal and administrative measures, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, together with their neighbouring countries, are under continuous illicit tobacco pressure. This situation generates serious risk to border security, fueling organized crime, stimulating corruption, affecting the economies of both states. Therefore, to combat this threat, initiatives like Task Force Tobacco are of the utmost importance,” stated the chairman of the Task force Tobacco, the Head of the European Union Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine, General Slawomir Pichor.
NB* Task Force Tobacco was launched by EUBAM in 2010 to serve as a platform for combining national and international efforts to combat illicit tobacco products in the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.
On 8 October, the Deputy Prime Minister for the Reintegration of the Republic of Moldova, Mr Vladislav Kulminski accompanied by the Head of the Bureau for Reintegration Policies, Mr Alin Gvidiani, and the Consul of the Republic of Moldova in Odesa, Mr Ion Ciorniy paid a visit to the EUBAM HQ in Odesa.
The Head of Mission, Mr Slawomir Pichor, briefed the guests on the EUBAM’s mandate and work on the ground. In his turn, the Deputy Prime Minister informed EUBAM about the most recent developments in the Transnistrian settlement process pertinent to the Mission’s activities.
The discussions focused on the current stage of the implementation of joint control, border infrastructure modernization and trends in border traffic at the Moldova-Ukraine border. The officials also shared their insights on the participation of Transnistrian economic operators in the international trade and the admission of vehicles from the Transnistrian region to the international road traffic.
At the end, the parties expressed their willingness to continue cooperation on Transnistrian region-related confidence building measures as well as in identifying viable solutions to topical issues on the settlement negotiations agenda.
Even though there is a good level of cooperation between Moldovan and Ukrainian border agencies, when it comes to fighting cross-border crime, secure and effective information exchange is pivotal. With this in mind, EUBAM hosted a workshop for its Partners from the Ukrainian Border Guard Service and Moldovan Border Police on the Europol’s Secure Information Exchange Network Application (SIENA). On 14 September, a total of 46 participants took part in the workshop, including speakers from Europol and the German Federal Police, decision-makers and experts from the border agencies of the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, as well as observers from the National Police of Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova.
In the course of the workshop experts from the European law enforcement agencies introduced SIENA to the Ukrainian and Moldovan border guards and policemen, offering them a better understanding of what SIENA is and what useful features it has for a secure data transfer, making it an application of choice especially for the jointly operated border crossing points. German Federal Police demonstrated practical implementation of SIENA in the Police and Customs Cooperation Center (PCCC) Passau, at the border between Germany and Austria. At the same time representatives of National Police of the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, which already successfully use that system to exchange intelligence with their European counterparts shared their experience. In the end, the participants discussed the peculiarities and strategy for the possible future SIENA’s implementation at Common Contact Point (CCP) Palanca.
According to Europol, it could be the first time when non-EU countries use this Europol system for secure information exchange between each other.
In the evening of 8 September, officers of the Customs Service of the Republic of Moldova seized almost 2 million illicit cigarettes at the administrative boundary line. The cigarettes were detected in a truck full of sand thanks to the law enforcers’ professional risk analysis. On this occasion, EUBAM congratulates the Customs Service of the Republic of Moldova on the good-performed job and wishes more such successful operations in the future.
Illicit tobacco trade is a key threat in EUBAM’s area of operations making it one of the highest priorities for the Mission. Especially, this notorious phenomenon is acute at the central segment of the Mission’s area of operation. The problem is rooted in previous excessive import of cigarettes to Transnistrian region, when in 2020 approximately 1.7 billion cigarettes were legally imported to the region. At the same time, the elevated risk of illicit cigarette trade is provoked by the discrepancy between cigarette taxation levels in Chisinau and Tiraspol. Consequently, on the right bank of the Nistru River you will pay 2.4 EUR for the average pack of cigarettes, on the left bank you will buy it for a little more than 1 EUR. Considering the proximity of the European market with considerably higher prices for tobacco produce, illicit trade is a real cornucopia for all sorts of smuggling activities.
Hence, EUBAM has been actively supporting and assisting partner services in their fight against illicit tobacco since 2005. Through advisory activity on risk analysis and regular on-the-job mentoring on perpetrators’ modi operandi, the Mission continues to enhance operational and strategic capacities of Ukrainian and Moldovan law enforcers at the different levels. Finally, yet importantly, it is essential to highlight the activity of EUBAM-driven Task Force Tobacco Group, which creates a unique platform for strategic cooperation between law enforcement agencies of the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, representatives of EU, and major cigarette producers.
A photo overview of the most significant achievements of EUBAM and its Partner Services in April – July 2021.
On 13 August, in Chisinau, the Head of EU Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM) Slawomir Pichor held the first working meeting with Chief Commissioner Rosian Vasiloi, the newly appointed Head of the Moldovan General Border Police Inspectorate.
The parties summarized the jointly achieved results and outlined the prospects for future cooperation. In this regard, the Head of the General Border Police Inspectorate expressed his sincere appreciation for EUBAM’s work and stressed the importance of intensifying cooperation with EUBAM, which has been and remains a reliable partner in the integrated management of the state border. He also briefly introduced the key priorities of the Border Police development for the near future. On his part, Head of EUBAM presented current EUBAM key activities related to the modernization of the border management and fighting cross-border crime as well as the new format of operations in southern and northern segments of the MD-UA border.
“I congratulate you most warmly both on my behalf and my team for your appointment for this important position. I trust that together we would move forward with the implementation of the Integrated Border Management concept at the Moldova – Ukraine state border”, Slawomir Pichor said.
On 13 August, in Chisinau, the Head of EU Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM) Slawomir Pichor, together with the Head of EU Delegation to the Republic of Moldova Ambassador Peter Michalko, met with new Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration Vlad Kulminski and congratulated him on his appointment.
The discussions focused on the latest developments in the Transnistrian settlement process and the ongoing projects for the wellbeing of the citizens from both bank of Nistru River and for facilitating the international trade across the region.
The interlocutors also reviewed the activities related to the Transnistrian issue carried out by the EUBAM in line with its current mandate, noting the need to strengthen interaction, coordinating efforts and use available technical expertise to generate viable solutions to the problems affecting the inhabitants of both banks of the Nistru.
“I look forward to working closely with you to further strengthen our cooperation in supporting Transnistrian region – related confidence building measures”, Slawomir Pichor said.
On 7 July, EUBAM has organized an online workshop on radiological emergency response. High-profile specialists from Ukrainian State Border Guard and Customs Services, Moldovan Border Police together with representatives of nuclear and radiological agencies of both countries took part in the event.
In a course of the workshop EUBAM experts presented EU procedures on detection, containment, transportation, and disposal of nuclear materials. Using the example of Germany and Bulgaria the Mission’s experts demonstrated European practices on radiological emergency response at the strategic and operational levels. At the same time, Moldovan and Ukrainian professionals showcased both countries’ modi operandi employed in case of radioactive materials detection and exchanged experience in handling such cases. Considering the importance of real-life practice for improving operational response to radiological threats, the participants have agreed to develop and conduct a practical exercise.
General Slawomir Pichor, Head of the European Union Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine welcomed the decision to hold a practical exercise. The Head of Mission also underlined the importance of joint action in tackling radioactive materials. “When radiological and nuclear threat is detected, it requires swift and coordinated reaction from multiple agencies and synergy among all the participants to successfully neutralize it. Effective cooperation is even more crucial for management of response to such incidents if they are of cross-border nature. Therefore, I would like to highlight the importance of this event, which created a platform for exchanging experience and expanding cooperation at the national and international levels,” the Head of Mission said.
On 25 June 2021, the 36th Advisory Board Meeting of the European Union Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine was convened in an online mode. Representatives from the Foreign Ministries, border, customs and law enforcement agencies of the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, the European Union Delegations to the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, the International Organization for Migration, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and United Nations Development Programme participated in the meeting.
Among the main topics on the agenda of the meeting were confidence-building between two banks of the Nistru River, integrated border management, and prevention of cross-border crime. Following the discussion, the Advisory Board acknowledged the achievements EUBAM and its partner services made at the backdrop of still-developing COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time the Board welcomed the recent decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine to modernize priority border crossing points, as well as the agreement between the presidents of Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova on the creation of a new transport corridor between Kyiv and Chisinau.
European Union Ambassador to the Republic of Moldova, Peter Michalko chaired the EUBAM Advisory Board Meeting and reflected on the achievements EUBAM and its partner services made, highlighting immense progress in the cooperation between the partner services. “The areas covered by EUBAM in support of the partner services are relevant and of strategic importance, in interest of both the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine: support to the Transnistrian conflict settlement, the integrated border management including establishment of the joint border control along entire joint border, and the fight against trans-border crime. The EU continues to be close partner and friend of both Moldova and Ukraine, offering its support through EUBAM but also through other instruments, like projects that provide financing for building of infrastructure at the border crossing points,” Ambassador Peter Michalko said.
The Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine, Mr. Rémi Duflot, said: “Close cross-border cooperation between Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, two close partners of the European Union, is of key importance, and in the interest of both of them: it would facilitate trade and people-to-people contacts and contribute to a high level of security. To achieve this, it is essential to start carrying out joint border operations at the agreed border crossing points between the two countries. I encourage the Ukrainian side to deliver the agreed renovation works and infrastructure. We stand ready to support such efforts, including through the EU Border Assistance Mission.”
Mr. Gheorghe Leucă, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Moldova appreciated EUBAM’s contribution to the border management and risk analysis, at the same time, acknowledging the efforts of the Mission in supporting confidence building measures, implementing integrated border management and combating cross-border crime. Mr. Leucă stated, “We emphasize the primary focus of the ABM as the review of the achieved results in the last 5 months and assessment of the way forward in the extension of the joint border control. We remain convinced that we should more actively extend the joint border control, especially on the central part of the Moldovan-Ukrainian border, in compliance with the 2017 Agreement and the provisions of the Road Map 2019-2022. We encourage EUBAM to continue the result-oriented approach in order to achieve tangible progress thus contributing to ensuring stability and security in the region.”
Mr. Serhii Saienko, Deputy Director of the Directorate for the European Union and NATO, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, noted the importance of the EUBAM’s contribution in strengthening the institutional capacities of Customs and Border Guard partner services of Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, as well as in enhancing their cooperation to respond to challenges of a border nature. Mr. Saienko mentioned: “Ukraine highlights EUBAM’s visibility in Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova border area. That encourages and helps both countries to combine efforts to address challenges, ensure the efficiency of the integrated border management and to increase the effectiveness of countering cross-border crime.”
The Head of EUBAM, Mr. Slawomir Pichor said: “The last five months EUBAM did its best to enhance operational capabilities of our partner services through expertise, mentoring, and various capacity building events. Taking into account the recent positive developments in the epidemiological domain, I would like to express hope that the next period will bring even more opportunities for new joint initiatives and in person interaction. In the meantime let me reiterate EUBAM’s readiness to make every effort to support the border security and economic development in the region and to remain committed to the Moldovan and Ukrainian partners.”
The 37th Advisory Board Meeting will be convened in November 2021.
Geographically situated on the heroin trafficking route originating in the Middle East, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova are exposed to numerous attempts and new methods to smuggle drugs through their countries. Therefore, to successfully fight drug smuggling the Mission puts all its efforts to support international cooperation. This way, thanks to EUBAM-facilitated investigation, on 19 June 2021, law enforcement agencies of the Republic of Moldova, together with their Ukrainian counterparts, arrested five drug traffickers and seized 235 kg of heroin bound for the EU.
The large-scale international investigation that involved about one hundred law enforcement officers from Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova began in December last year. Upon the request from the partner services, the Mission provided its advice and assistance to the investigation, creating a platform for cross-border cooperation between law enforcement agencies of both countries. In a course of the joint investigation, it was revealed that an international organized crime group comprised of Turkish and Moldovan citizens created a logistic hub for drug trafficking in the Republic of Moldova. Under the guise of companies specialized in the import and export of construction materials the criminals organized a supply of heroin concealed in bricks. The perpetrators were smuggling heroin from Iran through the territory of Ukraine to Moldova and then further to the EU. As the result of the investigation, law enforcers shut down the international drug trafficking route, bringing to justice 2 Turkish and 3 Moldovan citizens.
A row of joint operational meetings under the auspice of EUBAM not only led to the successful investigation but also enhanced the Moldovan-Ukrainian police and judicial cooperation against illicit drug trafficking. The Head of EUBAM, General Slawomir Pichor highlighted the great joint work demonstrated by the Ukrainian and Moldovan law enforcement agencies. “I would like to congratulate the law enforcement agencies of the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine on successful joint investigation. In the end, the effective cross-border cooperation and the operational information exchange proved once again to be a very useful and effective tool in the fight against transnational organized crime”, the Head of EUBAM concluded.
On 11 June 2021, under the auspice of EUBAM, high-level representatives of the Security and Intelligence Service of the Republic of Moldova (SIS) and the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) held a trilateral meeting in Odesa. The main goal of the meeting was to broaden cooperation between security services of both countries, enhance information exchange and step up capacities to fight cross-border crime at the Moldova-Ukraine border.
In the course of the meeting representatives of two security services discuss cooperation in the light of new threats and shifting modi operandi of organized cross-border crime. The parties exchanged information on criminal activities alongside Moldova-Ukraine border and shared best practices on combating it. Ukrainian and Moldovan high-level security officials discussed counteracting illicit firearms trafficking, smuggling of drugs, tobacco, and alcohol. At the same time, the issue of trafficking in human beings was scrutinized by the participants who highlighted vulnerable areas and possible mitigating measures, as well as prospects for future joint activities.
The Information and Security Service of the Republic of Moldova stressed the significance of further development of trilateral cooperation within the EUBAM platform. “Interaction in this format gives a unique opportunity to debate on concrete issues and identify solutions that help to counter smuggling of narcotic and radioactive substances, alcohol and tobacco products at the Moldova-Ukraine border. Despite COVID-19 international restrictive measures, achieving constant interaction and exchange of information on existing risks and threats in the border area significantly contributes to ensuring security at the national and regional levels”, the Head of the Moldovan Delegation stated. In this regard, he also expressed gratitude to the Head of the EUBAM for his diligent work in maintaining good partnership and cooperation.
On their side, the Security Service of Ukraine welcomed EUBAM’s initiative on bringing together representatives of Ukrainian and Moldovan security services, underlining the importance of enhancing cooperation with their colleagues from the Republic of Moldova. In this context, the Head of the Ukrainian Delegation mentioned: „Today, we have agreed to strengthen cooperation on intelligence exchange and risk analysis at the Moldova-Ukraine border. At the end of the day, it is the cooperation of our two special services that will make it possible to better combat cross-border crime, illicit trafficking in firearms, explosives, tobacco products, etc.”
Concluding the meeting, General Slawomir Pichor, the Head of EUBAM stated: “To date, the Mission together with security services of the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine have enjoyed effective cooperation. Today, we were able to step it up even further. Thanks to this meeting, we mapped out priorities and established good foundations for enhancing cooperation. I trust that this trilateral meeting will boost information exchange and improve responses to the challenges both services are facing at the Moldova-Ukraine border. At the same time, I would like to reiterate EUBAM’s readiness to provide strategic, analytical, and operational support.”
On 5 June 2021, Deputy Director-General at Directorate-General Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), Ms Katarína Mathernová, together with the European Union Ambassador to the Republic of Moldova, H.E. Peter Michalko, paid a visit to the headquarters of European Union Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM) in Odesa. The enforcement of the priorities and objectives of the Mission’s working program was the main topic addressed by the two officials with the Head of EUBAM, General Slawomir Pichor.
Within this context, the Mission’s main achievements over the 15 years of activity, as well as the practical implementation arrangements for the Mission’s current mandate, in force until 30 November 2023, were discussed. The parties also tackled the implementation of the Integrated Border Management (IBM) concept in the region in the context of the national IBM strategies of the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine and EU technical assistance programs. Additionally, the high officials exchanged views on the legislative initiatives towards the resumption of the criminal liability for goods smuggling in Ukraine aimed at effectively curbing the cross-border crime.
Throughout the meeting, EUBAM’s support to the settlement of the Transnistrian issue, IBM implementation and combatting cross-border crime were exemplified by concrete initiatives and measures put into effect together with the Moldovan and Ukrainian customs and border agencies.
On 26 May, EUBAM concluded the joint educational program held together with Odesa I.I. Mechnikov National University in the first half of 2021. In the light of this, EUBAM organized a study trip to the Odesa Sea Port for the graduate students, as the last session of the University’s EU-Ukraine Integration Course.
There, EUBAM, together with representatives of border and custom authorities, presented and discussed with the students real-life aspects of their daily work in the port in order for them to gain greater understanding on the topics introduced during the first three theoretical sessions. At that time, EUBAM’s experts from Finland, Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania visited the University and briefed the participants of the course about the Mission’s mandate, its contribution to the regional security and economic development. Therefore, students expanded their knowledge on a wide range of topics related to the EUBAM’s work, such as integrated border management and fighting cross-border crime.
Taking the students out of the classroom into the real world was nevertheless a great way to spark their interest and partake in an enjoyable learning experience. At the end of the study visit, top management of the Mission awarded certificates to the best-performing students and congratulated them on successful completion of the course.
The Dark Web has become a notorious criminal hub that according to its online nature operates regardless the borders. The anonymity of illicit online activity not only encourages illegal actions, but also disguises them from law enforcement agencies. To help our partner services tackle this challenge, on 25 May, EUBAM in cooperation with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has organized an online workshop on Dark Web investigation with the participation of 30 high-level representatives of law-enforcement agencies of Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova.
During a live demonstration, experts from Germany, Spain and Thailand walked the participants through the technical details of Dark Web operations. The UNODC specialists shared best international practices for investigating crime on the Dark Web, using real life scenarios from their own countries. At the same time, special attention was paid to cryptocurrencies and the way payment methods work on the Dark Web. The workshop was also focused on national legislation and how to conduct Dark Web investigations within its boundaries.
“We should take into account the constantly changing character of the Dark Web phenomena and its cross-jurisdictional nature. If we neglect it, perpetrators might be encouraged by the lack of enforcement to conduct more and more illicit activities using the Dark Web. Therefore, it is crucial that law enforcers constantly enhance their knowledge on this topic, share experience and collaborate across agencies,” stated Slawomir Pichor, Head of the European Union Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine.
On 15 May, General Slawomir Pichor, the Head of EUBAM, has participated in the flag-raising ceremony that was held on the occasion of Europe Day celebration at the Odesa Regional State Administration. That day representatives of diplomatic core, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, local authorities, and hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the important date and raise the flags of the European Union and Ukraine.
Congratulating Ukrainian people on Europe Day, the Head of Mission highlighted that Ukraine is already building its European future through concrete actions. At the same time Head of EUBAM underlined Ukraine’s willingness to strengthen multilateralism, peace, sustainable development, free and fair trade, human rights, and democracy.
“Today’s event is not just well-established tradition, it is not just a flag raising ceremony, this is a chance for Ukrainian people to join European family in celebrating our shared values. This EU flag here stands as a confirmation of Ukrainian aspirations towards the European future. And as those flags are waving side by side – European Union and Ukraine are standing shoulder by shoulder in mutual understanding and solidarity.”
A photo overview of the most significant achievements of EUBAM and its Partner Services in December 2020 – March 2021.