Southern and Central Cluster Conference of the Söderköping Process
On 29-30 September 2003, UNHCR, with the support of the CBCP Secretariat and in partnership with the EC, the SMB and IOM, convened in Chisinau, Moldova, a Conference of the Central and Southern cluster of the Söderköping process. The Conference aimed to (1) exchange information on developments that took place in the countries since the last meetings in Sirava and Suceava as well as developments in the EU in migration, asylum and border management; (2) jointly discuss issues of common concern and exchange experiences in addressing them, including admission and return policies and practices, safeguards at the borders, and border management challenges; and (3) identify issues of common concern for actions to be undertaken in the nearest future.
The conference was co-funded by UNHCR and the SMB. Asylum, migration and border guard officials and NGO representatives from Hungary, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine participated.
The Secretariat gave a brief overview of the developments under the Söderköping process up to now and its role in the process. Presentations were made on the developments of the Uzhgorod process (UNHCR and the Romanian National Refugee Council), the EU policy in view of the upcoming enlargement (EC), the border management and migration/asylum systems and interaction with neighbouring states in the five CBCP countries since autumn 2002 (Secretariat), and the EU legislation on migration, asylum and border management (SMB).
As issues of common concern for the five participating countries were identified:
improvement of migration/asylum registration and information systems at the national level;
exchange of information and experience on various topics including study visits;
access of NGOs to asylum seekers and assistance in NGO co-operation in the sub-region;
information on ongoing and planned projects in the field of migration, asylum and border management in the sub-region; and voluntary return of migrants.
The outcome of the conference served as a basis for ideas and suggestions worked out by the Secretariat for follow-up activities for the two clusters.