Foreign Minister Maas has announced that more funds will be made available to combat the illegal arms trade. The focus is on the Western Balkans. Maas and his French opposite number, Foreign Minister Le Drian, jointly hosted a conference in Paris on Tuesday (11 December), to which they had invited the foreign and home affairs ministers of Serbia, Kosovo, FYR Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Montenegro.
Stopping weapons before they reach the EU
Hundreds of thousands of weapons from the region have been in circulation in Europe since the time of the Balkan wars. Criminals and terrorists throughout Europe use them to kill. Speaking in Paris, Maas said, “The black market trade in arms knows no borders. So if we want to dry it up, our thinking has to transcend borders too.” The crucial thing, as he saw it, was to halt the illegal supplies of arms and ammunition before they even reached the European Union.
More transparency and cooperation
Germany and France have launched a new initiative to improve small-arms and light-weapons control in the Western Balkans. It is intended to boost the effectiveness of the region’s public security institutions in this field. There is considerable potential for improvement through increased transparency and cooperation among the countries of the Western Balkans. A joint roadmap has also been drawn up. Practical support on the ground is being provided by various international organisations, such as the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
A matter of Germany’s security
“Our objective is not only greater stability in the Balkans,” said Foreign Minister Maas, “This is also a matter of Germany’s security.” The German Government will therefore be significantly raising its contributions and providing more than 7 million euros to fund projects under this initiative in future.