October 12th, 2023 – a Thematic Meeting on Integrated Border Management (IBM), with a focus on the Silk Routes (SR) Countries, was held on 5-6 October 2023 in Sofia, Bulgaria. The meeting gathered 61 participants from 18 countries and 6 international organizations. It was the first meeting under the newly established Budapest Process Thematic Working Group on Law Enforcement Cooperation, which is co-chaired by Bulgaria and Iraq.
The Budapest Process (BP) has increasingly highlighted the importance of Integrated Border Management, most notably in its political declaration and action plan adopted in 2019. There are several ongoing initiatives in the SR countries, implementing the action points decided under Priority Goal 1. In this regard, the overall objectives of the meeting were:
- To update participants about the latest developments in border management in the SR region since the last meeting in 2018;
- To understand the specific needs of BP Partners, specifically countries of origin and transit, in the area of border management;
- To develop modalities for engagement on integrated border management with a focus on Silk Routes countries’ specific needs.
The meeting was structured as plenary sessions with interventions from experts and delegates, including one session split into two working groups.
The participants of the meeting stressed that:
- Information, data, and intelligence sharing needs to be further strengthened between origin, transit and destination countries so that quick actions can be taken within reasonable time.
- Partnerships on capacity building on border management need to proceed as planned and expanded in areas such as knowledge-sharing /transfers of border management technologies.
- The Budapest Process dialogue platform should be used to facilitate bilateral and multilateral connections between countries willing to work together on border management.
- The recommendations and ideas generated in this meeting should be presented at the next Budapest Process Ministerial Conference, especially in the next Ministerial Declaration and its Action Plan, so that these can be translated into action in the form of new projects and trans-national/regional initiatives.