Letter from INTERPOL’s President and Secretary General to all National Central Bureaus regarding the 35th European Regional Conference in Minsk, Belarus

12 May 2006

At the 34th INTERPOL European Regional Conference in May of 2005, police representatives from forty five European countries voted to hold the 2006 European Regional Conference in Belarus.

The conference was scheduled for May of 2006. Preparations for the conference have been underway for some time, and these preparations are now complete.

At its meeting on 10th April 2006, the General Affairs and External Relations Council of the European Union adopted conclusions on Belarus following the Presidential elections on 19th March 2006.

On 4th May 2006, INTERPOL received a letter from the Chairman of the Permanent Representatives Committee of the European Union (COREPER) inviting INTERPOL to rearrange the conference. Unfortunately, this request arose without prior consultation with INTERPOL, and without providing INTERPOL the opportunity to present balancing arguments. Nevertheless, we understand the difficult circumstances that led to the request.

While it is becoming apparent that most INTERPOL member countries who are also members of the European Union will not be sending delegations to the conference, INTERPOL has received positive indications from a significant number of countries that it is their intention to send delegations. In fact, even after COREPER requested that the conference be rearranged, many countries have reaffirmed that they would still be attending the conference. Strong representations have been received urging INTERPOL to continue with the conference in Minsk.

We write to advise you that, after considerable deliberation, the 35th INTERPOL European Regional Conference in Minsk will occur as planned.

The European Regional Conference provides an opportunity for law enforcement officers in its European member countries to meet and explore ways of furthering cross-border communication and co-operation. It is also a forum where important decisions are made which affect the police work being done in the INTERPOL European Region and beyond.

INTERPOL’s mission is to promote communication and co-operation among the world’s law enforcement agencies. INTERPOL is constitutionally barred from undertaking any activity which is political, military, religious, or racial. This is increasingly difficult in a politicised world, but political neutrality is fundamental if the Organisation is to remain effective and fulfill its basic role of supporting international law enforcement co-operation.

It is also important that INTERPOL retains its independence as a neutral international organization and not become subject to the influence of any one country or group of countries, other than its member countries acting through its constitution and statutes.

We note that a number of European Union member countries have maintained diplomatic missions in Belarus. INTERPOL’s conference in Belarus is intended to support international police co-operation and respect for the rule of law, and will therefore benefit the citizens of Belarus and the international community.

INTERPOL’s day to day experience shows that international law enforcement co-operation and information sharing is possible even in cases where diplomatic relationships between countries are problematical or non-existant.

Fighting terrorism and other serious trans-national crime requires international police co-operation, regardless of political differences between governments.  The wider and deeper the police co-operation, the more effective the fight. 

Terrorism and other serious transnational crime, by their very nature, do not respect borders, which is why it is absolutely essential that INTERPOL continues to operate on an international basis in service of the global community.

It is vitally important that we all continue to work together to make the world a safer place for the benefit of all our citizens and communities. In light of the threats posed by terrorism and other serious transnational crime, we cannot afford to exclude any country’s police from our information channels. In fact, it would be in violation of our duty were we to do so.

For all the above reasons and others, we wish to convey the strongest possible encouragement for you to send an appropriate delegation to the European Regional Conference in Minsk, Belarus.