The second meeting of the European Union and Council of Europe joint Programme “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey” (Albanian, Bosnia and Herzegovina, fYROMacedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia. “Turkey’s involvement will be limited to receiv- ing legal analyses/advice through the Expertise Co-ordination Mechanism and to potential regional activities”, the programme explains) that reviewed the progress achieved to date under its “guidance” was held on Tuesday in Sarajevo and was hosted by the BiH Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The three-year Horizontal Facility, which ends next year, aims to assist authorities in South-East Europe to achieve greater compliance with European standards in three key areas: ensuring justice, fighting corruption, economic crime and organised crime, as well as combating discrimination and the protection of the rights of vulnerable groups. As it was announced by the EU Delegation to BiH, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, €2.7 million are allocated to four projects: Enhancing human rights protection for detained and sentenced persons; Strengthening the Human Rights Ombudsman to fight discrimination; Quality Education in multi-ethnic societies and Strengthening the protection of national minorities.
Almir Šahović, Assistant Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, pointed to the importance of this collaboration between the European Union, the Council of Europe and the national authorities in bringing the country closer to European standards, especially in the context of the application of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the European Union membership.
Pilar Morales, Head of Programming Department of the Office of Directorate General of Programmes of the Council of Europe, stressed the added value of the Horizontal Facility, as a programmatic instrument addressing recommendations of the Council of Europe monitoring bodies, aiming at fulfilling BiH’s commitments taken upon accession to the CoE, BiH’s reforms agenda and the EU accession process.
Melvin Asin, Head of Cooperation of the European Union Delegation to BiH, highlighted some of the results achieved so far and underlined the continued support of the EU, together with the Council of Europe, in assisting BiH authorities towards EU accession in the areas of justice, law enforcement, human and minority or social rights.
“In practical terms, EU/CoE through this Programme assisted the Ombudsperson Institution to better combat hate crime and hate speech. Moreover, the regional cooperation and knowledge exchange on EU anti-discrimination standards, prevention and protection mechanisms was further strengthened. To further enhance the protection of human rights of sentenced and detained persons, following extensive training to staff from prisons and enforcement agencies, a team of law enforcement trainers was established which is accredited to deliver human-rights based training programmes. Last, but not least, the new Handbook on prisoner management (the first document of its kind, produced and delivered in BiH) will allow for consistent handling of prisoners according to European standards”, Asin said.
The Horizontal Facility has a budget of €25 million, of which €20 million has been provided by the European Union and five million Euro by the Council of Europe. Through the Horizontal Facility, the European Union and the Council of Europe will assist beneficiaries in South-East Europe and Turkey to comply with Council of Europe standards and the European Union acquis, through a complementary two-fold approach of technical co-operation and the provision of expertise.
The meeting was attended by officials from the Ministries of Justice at state and entity levels, the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees, Ministry of Civil Affairs, the Centres for Education of Judges and Prosecutors, as well as representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Directorate of European Integration, the Delegation of the European Union and the Council of Europe…. / IBNA