Podgorica – The MARRI Regional Forum of Ministers of Interior/Security marked the end of MARRI Presidency-in-Office by Montenegro (June 2020 – June 2021) and the beginning of North Macedonia yearlong chairmanship over the Initiative. Along with the MARRI Participant’s delegations, the meeting was attended by representatives of international organisatons among which UNHCR, IOM, EASO, Frontex, RCC, IISG and GIZ.  As per usual, the Ministerial Forum provided an opportunity for MARRI Participants to discuss current and future activities of MARRI in the framework of regional cooperation and regional ownership.

In his welcoming remarks, the Minister Interior of Montenegro Sergej Sekulovic highlighted  Montenegro’s readiness to make every effort to contribute to the creation of strong regional relations in order to bring the region closer to the integration standards. In this sense, he stressed, the regional initiatives, including MARRI for more than a decade, represent an opportunity to strengthen ties and common values ​​on the road to the European Union. I would like to emphasize the importance of regional cooperation through the MARRI Forum, which is also an opportunity to jointly review the activities of this initiative and evaluate the progress and results achieved. Having in mind the challenges that the Western Balkan shares, as well as the global security situation, I am sure that the issues concerning migration, asylum and displaced persons will not be less relevant in the time ahead,” said Minister Sekulović.

The MARRI Forum Member of North Macedonia, the Minister of Interior Oliver Spasovski complimented Montenegro’s successful presiding over the Initiative and reaffirmed the commitment of North Macedonia to support MARRI and its Regional Centre in Skopje. The relevance of MARRI is still well founded today because the main topic is migration, which in itself is permanent. We are witnesses that the same process can bring development, but for that to happen it needs to be regulated, it is necessary to deepen the cooperation and communication between the services responsible for this area, but also to strive for implementation of the best practices of the countries with a high degree of success in this area” – said Minister Spasovski.

MARRI RC Director Sashko Kocev presented the yearlong activities and achievements that marked the Montenegro Presidency-in-Office, including the documents discussed during the MARRI Committee Meeting held the previous day. The event, organised also in a hybrid mode, was chaired by MARRI Committee Member of Montenegro Ambassador Veljko Milonjic and it was attended by MARRI Committee Members – high officials at the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the MARRI Participants, MARRI Coordinators, Representatives of MARRI Participants and MARRI RC staff. The Forum adopted the MARRI Annual Report for the period June 2020-June 2021, Financial Report for 2020 and North Macedonia Priorities and Annual Program of activities for June 2021 – June 2022. Director Kocev stressed that MARRI will continue to work on overcoming the regional challenges in the migration governance and thus, contributing to the security and prosperity of the MARRI region.

Representatives of the international organisations who attended the ministerial session, also highlighted the importance of the regional cooperation to further strengthening and development of the MARRI region. During the tour de table of the international organizations and donor countries, appreciation and support to MARRI offered Frontex Director of Division for International and European Cooperation Götz Brinkmann, RCC Head of the Political Department Amer Kapetanovic, EASO Senior Operations Officer Vaclav Svejda, GIZ Office in Skopje Project Leader Michael Samec, UNHCR Protection Officer/Regional IPA Coordinator Murad Ullah, IOM Office in Belgrade Team Leader, Migration Management in the Western Balkans,  Donatella Bradic.   Open to broader cooperation, calls for synergies and coordination, and providing support were the key messages conveyed by MARRI partners and donors.

Podgorica Declaration that has been adopted at the very end of Forum session reflects political commitments and achievements of MARRI Participants in the format of this regional initiative.

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1- 2 July 2021 – MARRI Committee and MARRI Regional Forum Meeting