The 17th National Focal Points (NFP) Round Table Meeting for South East and Eastern Europe (SEEE), within the framework of the European Union (EU) Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence (CoE) Initiative, took place on 6-7 April 2022. The meeting was held in a hybrid format in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and featured a lively discussion, informative updates and information sharing from the participants. It was facilitated and moderated by the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI).
The meeting was attended by the EU CBRN CoE National Focal Points (NFP) of partner countries within the SEEE region. The attendees were NFPs from Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, as well as partners from the European Commission (Joint Research Centre and Service for Foreign Policy Instruments), UNICRI, the and the Centres of Excellence projects implementers.
The purpose of this meeting was to receive updates from the SEEE partner countries about the progresses made, ongoing activities and initiatives. The meeting was also an opportunity to discuss the CBRN Regional Action Plan (RAP); present the achievements, challenges and success stories of the partner countries; get information from existing project consortia about ongoing projects; discuss new projects in the region to be launched soon; illustrate activities aimed at sharing good practices and lessons learned; inform about the planning of future activities both at the national and at the regional levels.
On the first day of the meeting, attendees received updates from all present NFPs, as well as a progress update since the last round table meeting of the Regional Secretariat. The NFPs discussed about the first draft of the CBRN Regional Action Plan, which will be finally submitted for adoption during the 18th NFPs Round Table Meeting. The overall objective of the CBRN Regional Action plan is to enhance regional capabilities in the field of CBRN risk mitigation. The RAP will not replace other multilateral and bilateral initiatives, but rather it will represent a valuable addition, which, if properly implemented, could help to achieve the objectives set by the partner countries.
The European Commission Joint Research Centre delivered its presentation on the development and review methodologies for the CBRN National Action Plan (NAP). National Focal Points from Armenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina presented their review and rejuvenation plans of the CBRN National Strategies and Action Plans. The Round Table meeting also provided an opportunity to discuss the specificities and plans for the two new projects within the SEEE region and update the NFPs on the activities planned and the way forward for future exercises in the SEEE region.
During the second day of the meeting, the participants received information on the three ongoing projects initiated within the framework of the EU CBRN Centres of Excellence Initiative. Project 53: “Strengthening the National Legal Framework and Provision of Specialized Training on Biosafety and Biosecurity”; Project 67: “Strengthening CBRN Waste Management Capabilities in South-East and Eastern European Countries”; and Project 88: “Strengthening of CBRN Medical Preparedness and Response Capabilities in SEEE Countries CBRN CoE Private Portal”. Moreover, partner countries were informed about the CBRN Threat Assessment Training, where countries can request for specific national threat and risk assessment training to be conducted and organized.
Finally, the SEEE Regional Secretariat provided an overview of the series of action-oriented CBRN Forensic Guidebooks that UNICRI is preparing thanks to the funding of the European Commission. The Prosecutor’s Guide to Chemical and Biological Crimes will be published in a few weeks, and two more guidebooks will be prepared afterwards. The Prosecutors Guide to Radiological and Nuclear Crimes will be developed by UNICRI in close cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Karlsruhe.
The meeting wrapped up with a brief information on the Exchange of Good Practice Visit, which will be organized in Tbilisi, Georgia for all NFPs of the SEEE region. The visit will aim at sharing the experiences and best practices of the NFPs with relevant stakeholders in other countries and regions. This visit will be organized side-by-side to the International Conference of the Biosafety Association of Central Asia and the Caucasus (BACAC), scheduled to be held in Tbilisi, Georgia from 6-7 October 2022.
The EU CBRN CoE Initiative is funded by the European Commission and implemented in cooperation with the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC). The European External Action Service is also involved in the follow-up to the initiative. The initiative is developed with the technical support of relevant international and regional organizations, the EU Member States, and other stakeholders, through coherent and effective cooperation at the national, regional and international level. The initiative involves 62 countries in eight regions across the world.