On June 16,2023 in Tuzla, the results of the Capacity of Protection and Rescue Institutions Strengthened – CoPRIS project were presented to the public. The project was co-financed by the European Union from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA II) and within the Cross-border Cooperation Programme Serbia-Bosnia and Herzegovina 2014-2020. The total value of the project was more than half a million euros and the EU financed 79,04%.

The City of Tuzla and its partners, Water Management Company Galovica from Belgrade, Red Cross Tuzla, and Diving Club from Sremska Mitrovica implemented the project in the previous 27 months.

The project partners established a multi-disciplinary – mobile team for preparedness and response to natural and man-made disasters in the cross-border area.

Mayor of Tuzla City, Mr. Zijad Lugavić, praised project partners on the implementation of the project to strengthen rescue and protection services.

This project had great importance for all of us, especially in the light of the latest floods in the nearby municipalities. Once again it was confirmed that the knowledge and readiness of the rescue and protection services is a key to saving lives and property, clearing roads, and dealing with floods. We need more projects like this one where a joint approach with our neighbors would be enabled, Mr. Lugavić pointed out.

The protection and rescue services were strengthened with certified trainings and equipment. Members of the services received personal protection equipment, uniforms, and specialized clothes and footwear. Mobile teams were also equipped with the IT equipment and specialized vehicles. The Tuzla City Civil Protection Unit was equipped with the specialized vehicle that can be used in case of natural or man-made disasters in the city and in the wider cross-border area.

Mr. Slavko Stjepić, advisor to the Mayor of Tuzla pointed out the importance of the project.

During the project we used the basic principles of the Civil Protection services: prevention, education, readiness, cooperation. No country in the world is capable to deal with a  large natural disaster on its own, said Mr. Stjepić.

Red Cross Tuzla received training equipment and two external defibrillators. They also organized basic and advance trainings for the members of the protection and rescue institutions during the project.

Mr. Sead Hasić, Red Cross Tuzla Secretary reiterated the importance of Red Cross in the education of the citizens for the first aid.

Red Cross Tuzla was the first organization in Bosnia and Herzegovina recognized by the local authorities as an important actor for the crisis situations, thus in 2008 a Rescue and Protection Unit was established. In this project Red Cross used newly acquired equipment for the certification of 150 individuals for the first aid, said Mr. Hasić.

The project partners established a multi-disciplinary – mobile team for preparedness and response to natural and man-made disasters in the cross-border area. During a cross-border exercise in September 2022, in Tuzla, more than 100 members of the protection and rescue services showed coordinated operation directed at saving lives.

Mr. Aleksandar Narandžić from Water Company Galovica and Mr. Mladen Popović from the Diving Club Sremska Mitrovica both pointed out the importance of the new equipment, and especially new experiences gained in working with the partners from Tuzla during the project implementation, with the hope that this new partnership will be utilized in the future.

Delegate in the Republic of Serbia Parliament, Mr. Tomislav Janković who participated in the creation of CoPRIS project pointed out the importance of the cross-border cooperation.

Local communities need to find the way to overcome potential obstacles created by the higher politics and continue cooperation on the local level. Cross-border cooperation for the local self-governments is an opportunity for four important things: utilizing EU funding, transfer of knowledge and experiences, educating local administration in EU procedures, and at the same time reconciling after the nineties’ conflicts in the region, said Mr. Janković.

At the closure of the event, Mr. Esmir Spahić, Project Manager wished for new joint projects and initiatives in which partners could continue learning from each other.