The establishment of the MARRI Network for Cooperation on Readmission of Irregular Migrants (in further text: Readmission Network) was based on the MARRI Strategy 2014-2016, with an aim to support the readmission processes and regional synergies in managing the irregular migration in the region.

The need for establishing of the Readmission Network was highlighted at the Round Table – “Prevention of Irregular Migration in the Region and Voluntary Return of Irregular Migrants”, organized and hosted by MARRI Regional Centre, on 17-18 December 2013 in Skopje. During the meeting, it had been agreed that members of the Readmission Network should be high level officials/experts of relevant institutions of MARRI Participants; the network will have a plan of activities; and it will be open for cooperation with other Participants’ and international organizations.

There had been several activities on the topic of readmission organized in MARRI format, prior and post establishment of the MARRI Readmission Network:

1. Second Regional Workshop under Anti-Trafficking Responses (AtR) Programme on Integration Issues

On 15 December 2005 in Skopje, representatives from all MARRI Participants exchanged their views and experiences on access to rights and integration of returnees, derived from the Readmission Agreements.

 2. Workshop on Implementation of Readmission Agreements

On 15-16 June 2006 in Skopje, MARRI Regional Centre organised a “Workshop on Technical Aspects of Implementation of Readmission Agreements” with an objective to identify the gaps and needs of the MARRI Participants’ institutions involved in managing technical aspects of implementation of the agreements. The workshop also provided opportunity  for enhancing the regional co-operation mechanisms in accordance with the international standards.

3. Meeting on “Capacities of MARRI Member States’ Border Police in Implementation of Readmission Agreements”

The meeting took place on 12 March 2010 in Skopje, with objective:
– to present current situation in practical implementation of readmission agreements;
– to share experiences regarding capacities of Border Police in MARRI Participants and the practical implementation of Readmission Agreements;
– to identify good practices;
– to discuss possible follow-up to the meeting, i.e. project proposals to be developed by MARRI.

4. Round Table on “Prevention of Irregular Migration in B&H and in the Region and Voluntary Return of Irregular Migrants”

Organized on 17-18 December 2013 in Skopje as project activity of the Swiss Government and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Ministry of Security/Services for Foreigners, the round table had the specific objectives to:
– understand the Participants’ institutional framework for the fight against illegal migration – National Strategies;
– strengthen the regional and international cooperation in preventing and detecting illegal migration in the Western Balkans;
– enhance the cooperation with the countries of origin of illegal migrants (determining the persons’ identity, organizing their return);
– consider the possibility for joint actions in the process of readmission and exchange of data; and
– consider the practical aspects of the implementation of readmission agreements, direct and indirect evidence in determining readmission obligations.

5. Conference on Return of Irregular Migrants from the Western Balkan Countries

Conference has been organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina-Service for Foreigners’ and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina on 25 March 2015 in Sarajevo, with a financial support by the Swiss Government.

The aim of the Conference was to discuss the issues with third countries, particularly in regards to the origin of irregular migrants in the region, experience in the field of readmission, mechanisms of migration management and identification of irregular migrants.The Conference also aimed towards establishing cooperation between the Western Balkans and the countries of the origin of irregular migrants in the process of their return.

The Memorandum of Cooperation between MARRI and the Service for Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been signed on 17 February 2015.

6. Regional Meeting on Readmission in the Western Balkans

Following the initiative of MARRI Participants, MARRI under the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina and IOM jointly organized the Regional Meeting on Readmission in the Western Balkans on 14 May 2019 in Sarajevo.  The meeting was aimed at discussing readmission practices, challenges and opportunities at a regional level therefore fostering further regional cooperation and harmonization with EU standards and practices on readmission.

7. Regional Conference on Readmission 

The Regional Conference on Readmission was held on 27-29 October 2021 in Ohrid, North Macedonia. It was the second joint activity of MARRI and Hilfswerk International in the framework of “Reducing irregular migration to the EU by strengthening the capacities of migration-related structures in the Western Balkans” project, co-funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and the Federal Ministry of Interior of Austria. The Conference was split in two separate events – a 2-day open event which was attended by MARRI Participants’ administrations, EU agencies, international and regional organizations working in the field of return and readmission; and a closed session for MARRI Participants’ authorities for readmission. 

The Agenda of the Conference encompassed a comprehensive overview of the state-of-play on readmission in the MARRI region, including the good practices & challenges, the perspectives of the EU and the countries of origin, as well as presentation of the legal framework on EU level and its practical implementation from the standpoint of the international organisations.  

8. Regional Follow up Conference on Readmission

On 29-31 March 2022 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, representatives of readmission authorities in the MARRI Participants and international organisations working in the same area, continued the exchange of views regarding the good practices and challenges in the readmission processes. On the topic of cooperation with the countries of origin, the discussions focused on possibilities for pooling financial resources and the common, regional approach of the Western Balkans in concluding readmission agreements with these countries. The participants concluded that there was a need for capacity building of MARRI Participants’ authorities in terms of conducting the readmission processes and the possibilities for support and facilitation by the international partners were duly considered.

The event was co-organised by MARRI RC and Austrian NGO Hilfswerk International, together with Association HAJDE from Bosnia and Herzegovina.