TALLINN - Cooperation between the police of 10 countries of the Baltic Sea region is expected to improve following the first meeting of the police department heads that took place in Tallinn Jan. 14 - 16.
Top police officials from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, Germany, Norway and Poland spent two days in Tallinn discussing crime-related issues of drugs, stolen cars, illegal immigration and prevention.
Robert Antropov, head of the Estonian Police Department, said it was a great honor for Estonia to host the first 10-country meeting. The conference will likely become a regular event as Russia has already filed an application to host the next meeting in autumn 2004.
"The problems of the Baltic Sea countries' police are the problems of the whole region. We have met to get acquainted in order to cooperate better," Antropov said.
He added that earlier work with Finnish colleagues would allow Estonian police to establish joint investigation teams with Latvian and Russian law enforcement agencies.
The practical results of the conference include approval of the idea of joint use of the liaison officers who represent their country abroad and cooperation in the field of witness protection.
Russia's Viktor Voronin, head of the northwestern department of the state committee for drug and psychotropic substances traffic control, said the "meeting was useful" and that Russia cooperated with all the countries which were represented at the conference.
"We have good ties with the Estonian police. For example, on Jan. 9 two Estonian residents were arrested in St. Petersburg trying to sell 1,000 MDMA [ecstasy] pills. The investigation was carried out together with the Estonians," said Voronin.
Voronin said that after EU enlargement the main drug trafficking channels in the region would not change. "It will remain the same. Heroin will be coming from Afghanistan through Russia into Estonia and further to the west, and synthetic drugs will arrive from Europe and Estonia in Russia," he said.