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UK to boost funding to Western Balkans - PM May

UK to boost funding to Western Balkans - PM May Theresa May; By Jim Mattis, via Wikimedia Commons

BELGRADE (Serbia), July 11 (SeeNews) - The UK government plans to increase funding to the Western Balkans to 80 million pounds ($106.1 million/90.6 million euro) in 2020/2021 from 41 million pounds in 2018/2019, prime minister Theresa May said. 

The funding will help the region to address complex security challenges, particularly around serious and organised crime and drug smuggling, which in turn will help prevent illicit activity on the streets in the UK, May said on Tuesday, as quoted in a statement by the government.

"For history shows that a stable and secure Western Balkans region means a more stable and secure Europe. We are leaving the EU next March, but we remain fully committed to improving the prosperity and security of the Western Balkans, and Europe, both now and in the years to come," May said in London during the fifth annual Western Balkans Summit under the Berlin Process.

The UK government plans to launch the Balkans Organised Crime Observatory, jointly with Austria and Norway, which will enable civil society to play a more effective role in tackling organised crime and corruption and will serve as a virtual network for key civil society actors to work together to monitor, report on and expose organised crime and corruption. 

Moreover, the UK government aims to improve the region’s cyber capability through a 1 million pound investment in training and advisory activities, including direct support to Computer Emergency Response Teams in Serbia and Montenegro, launch of a Security Fellowships course on cybersecurity, and establishing a UK-Western Balkans Security Discourse on Cyber Security to enhance UK bilateral and regional relationships and information sharing among senior cyber officials.

The leaders of the six Western Balkan countries participated in the summit alongside German chancellor Angela Merkel and Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

The Berlin Process, established in 2014, has already achieved a great deal in the region – advancing the economic integration, building energy and transport links, and forging connections between civil society and young people.

(1 euro = 0.8836 British pounds)

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