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The State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) said the agreement was signed by the Intelligence and Security Agency (OSA), the Border Police, the Directorate for Coordination of Police Bodies, the Federal Police Administration (FUP), the Interior Ministry of Republika Srpska (MUP RS) and the Brcko District Police and Service for Foreigners’ Affairs.
SIPA has said that the agreement will enable a timely exchange of information and the implementation of joint activities with the aim of improving the fight against terrorism and creating a safer environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
SIPA spokesman Luka Miladinovic told BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina that this meant better and more direct cooperation between police agencies.
“It is more about police operations being of higher quality, better and faster, and the exchange of experiences and so on,” Miladinovic said.
“It will be much simpler with the other police agencies that are directly involved in countering terrorism. Easier, better circumstances, much easier than before,” Miladinovic said.
The operational group for countering terrorism at the state level became operational in late July 2016, but MUP RS said the cooperation had been inadequate.
“It is known that the operational group existed before but there was no formal legal act [governing its activities]. It didn’t function properly. The operational group starting work in this format should certainly improve and accelerate the exchange of information and improve collaboration between police agencies in countering terrorism,” said Mirna Miljanovic, chief of the Public Relations Section of MUP RS.
Anes Cengic, former chief of the Section for Countering Terrorism of the Federal Police Administration, said he thought that the agreement was simply formalising cooperation that already existed before.
“I think some form of cooperation existed even back in 2014 in respect to this group. However, the group was subordinate to the counter terrorism strike group, so the work of one group depended on the work of the other one,” he said.
“I think that they have now fulfilled the formal and legal conditions, they have agreed and created a legal basis on which they will act. However, it is unclear why they are saying that the group has been established again, knowing that it already existed before. I think they cooperated in an earlier period as well,” he added.