This capacity-building action was hosted by the State Environmental Inspectorate of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The Themis Secretariat would like to express its gratitude for their dedication and commitment.
The first sub-regional training took place in Ohrid, in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, on March 9-11, 2016, covering issues related to Galicica National Park and the Prespa Transboundary Biosphere Reserve. The objective was to engage the relevant authorities from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo* in an international, cross-border environmental law enforcement discussion related to nature protection in transboundary protected areas. Moldova was also invited to participate as an observer in order to encourage knowledge transfer from South Eastern Europe that can support its EU approximation efforts. The participating countries nominated delegates from environmental inspectorates with nature and water portfolios, and officials from nature parks and other protected areas. The training was opened by Macedonian Minister of Environment and Physical Planning, Nurhan Izairi, and the Austrian Ambassador in Skopje, H.E. Mrs. Renate Kobler.
The participants from Albania, Kosovo* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia assessed the current level of transboundary cooperation and the state of the art in each country, thereby improving their shared knowledge of each country's legal frameworks and inspection governance systems related to nature protection, especially those affecting transboundary nature protection areas. In addition, participants identified the main infractions detected within natural areas, the majority of which are instances of illegal construction. The training also provided an opportunity to exchange experiences and best practices related to nature inspection and law enforcement in protected areas, both among participants and with two EU member states, Austria and Latvia.
As a result of the training event, the Macedonian and Albanian participants agreed to establish a working group in order to discuss the current situation, share best practices and develop a common vision for transboundary/joint inspections in the protected areas of Ohrid and Prespa lakes. The Themis Secretariat proposed supporting the working group as far as its capacities and mandate allow. The Macedonian and Albanian participants nominated two contact persons (Mr. Darko Blinkov and Mr. Dashamir Koltraka respectively) to initiate links between the countries and to begin developing a vision statement. The working group will ensure that information is shared and that each side is informed about relevant issues. It was also agreed that the contact points will undertake an internal scoping in order to identify which authorities should be involved in the working group from each side. Cooperation within this working group is intended to be purely technical and operational, ensuring the same level of understanding and information between the countries.
Another important outcome was the decision to draft standard operating procedures (SOPs) for nature park rangers. The idea is to provide them with field notes on how to proceed in the event that an environmental offence is detected. The concept was suggested by the State Environmental Inspectorate of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, which will draft the SOPs with the support of the Themis Network.
Session 2: Overview of the situation in nature protection areas – National perspectives on management, inspection, legislation and enforcement.
Session 3: Inspection of nature protection areas in the EU (Latvia)
Session 4: Preparation for the study tour
Session 6: Enforcement and demonstration of nature inspection – Prespa Transboundary Biosphere Reserve
Session 7: Inspection of nature protection areas in the EU (Austria)
Session 8: Roundtable – The need for setting up a platform for future joint inspections
* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.