On 15 and 16 November, the Ministry of Interior of North Macedonia and the Czech Ministry of Interior, under the Presidency of the Council of the European Union hosted the Conference “Sustainable Migration Governance in the Western Balkans” in Skopje, North Macedonia, with the support of the International Organization of Migration, IOM.
The Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of North Macedonia, Oliver Spasovski, the UN Resident Coordinator in North Macedonia, Rossana Dudziak, and the IOM General Director, Antonio Vitorino, gave opening addresses, and the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of the Czech Republic, Vit Rakusan, as well as the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi addressed the participants via video link.
The representatives of the Western Balkans countries committed to strengthening cooperation to address smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons, notably by increasing access to regular pathways for migrants and fostering social inclusion, by signing the Skopje Declaration at the Sustainable Governance in the Western Balkans conference. They also committed to working jointly towards comprehensive return management to improve rights-based and process-driven return, readmission and reintegration practices and procedures.
“I leave the region today with reassurance that through the Skopje Declaration, we were able to set the tone for a comprehensive look at migration governance in the Western Balkans and find a solutions-oriented approach to address migration in a humane and orderly way. IOM is committed to help partners in the region to translate these important commitments into concerted and concrete actions through a comprehensive and whole-of-society approach”, said Antonio Vitorino, IOM Director General.
“Interoperable systems are paramount to continue our work and establish sustainable and coherent management systems, including for the identification of migrants. Practical linkages to connect the region to the EU systems is also necessary for effective migration management, notably through comprehensive border management and readmission programming”, said Oliver Spasovski, Minister of Interior of the Republic of North Macedonia.
The conference brought together Western Balkans partners, representatives of neighboring EU Member States and the European Union, international organizations, and academia to identify ways to effectively manage migration in the Western Balkans.
On the margins of the conference and during his official visit to the Republic of North Macedonia, the IOM General Director, Antonio Vitorino met with the President of the Republic of North Macedonia, Stevo Pendarovski to discuss issues related to migration management and the close cooperation between North Macedonia and IOM.