Three years ago, Frontex launched its first fully-fledged joint operation outside the European Union in Albania. The initiative marked a new phase for border cooperation between the EU and its partners in Western Balkans.
Thanks to the excellent cooperation, Albanian authorities and Frontex officers have been able to identify 65 people smugglers and 35 cases of drugs smuggling, including 747 kg of cannabis, 642 kg of cocaine and 82 kg of heroin. Frontex has also detected 63 cases of document fraud and 23 stolen vehicles.
The agency continues its support for Albania in several land, sea and air operations. Their aim remains to tackle cross-border crime and to strengthen European cooperation on coast guard functions and law enforcement activities.
Behar Tafa, head of the Local Coordination Centre, Albania:
“The participation of so many Member States in the operation in Albania led to the strengthening of the cooperation between the experts and the local officers and to enhanced border surveillance in operational areas. The operation also reinforced the capacity of Albanian authorities in coordinating a joint operation and integrating the staff and equipment into the national structure.
The coordination of the operation – with local centres and the main centre in Frontex’s headquarters in Warsaw – proved to be smooth and effective.
The operation continues to deliver outstanding results. The excellent cooperation between all stakeholders remains the key to its success.”
132 standing corps officers provide their expert knowledge and skills to assist the Albanian authorities in conducting border patrols and surveillance with the use of 21 patrol cars, as well as in gathering information from interviews with migrants and preparing situational reports, checking vehicles crossing the Albanian borders, examining documents, and detecting cases of cross-border crime. The agency also deploys a plane over the Adriatic and the Ionian Sea.
Standing corps officers also help with border control at the Tirana Mother Theresa Airport.
All operations are implemented in full compliance with the relevant EU and international law, with respect to the national law of the host third country, guaranteeing the respect for fundamental rights.