In the complex world of migration management, partnerships are integral to the development of cooperative, coordinated, and effective border responses to irregular migration and transnational crimes. Prometheus II, an EU-funded project under the Migration Partnership Facility (MPF), stands as an example of such a partnership initiative. Led by Civipol (France) in collaboration with the French Ministry of Interior and FIIAPP (Spain), Prometheus II recently marked a significant milestone, holding an international conference in Tbilisi, Georgia on November 6 and 7, 2023, entitled "Migration from Georgia to Europe and the Schengen area: A Multi-Sectoral Cooperation to Counter Irregular Migration, Migration-Related Crime, and to Better Regulate Health-Driven Migration". The conference aimed to take stock of the measures taken in Georgia, France, and various EU countries since 2017 to ensure harmonized and effective migration management, particularly focusing on combating irregular migration from Georgia to the EU and addressing health-driven migration.
Building on a successful first phase, the Prometheus II project seeks to bolster the capacities of Georgian authorities in the effective management and control of migratory flows. The project channels its efforts into targeted capacity-building activities, with a specific focus on the Georgian Border and Patrol Police. As a core part of its strategy, Prometheus II deploys border guards to address the challenges posed by irregular migration to the EU from Georgia. Notably, the project dispatched one Georgian migration and police officer to a French airport for a three-month mission, focusing on enhancing controls, communication, and information exchange at the border.
On the sidelines of the conference, the MPF team engaged in a conversation with the Georgian border guard deployed under the project, Ms. Marekhi Kopadze, an experienced officer serving in the Coordination Division of the Patrol Police Department within the Ministry of Interior of Georgia since 2006. Deployed to Beauvais airport in France, Marekhi’s interview demonstrates the tangible impact of MPF-funded projects. It not only highlights the MPF’s role in incubating collaborative partnership initiatives that shape effective border responses, but also illustrates how MPF-funded actions contribute to the professional growth of individuals at the forefront of border management. The transcript of the interview, shared below, delves into Marekhi’s experiences, offering insights into her ongoing deployment.
MPF: Let’s delve right into the motivations behind your deployment. What drove you to participate in this mission?
Marekhi Kopadze: My initial deployment in 2019 to Paris at Charles de Gaulle and Beauvais airports, where I was deployed as a liaison officer, significantly informed my decision to take part in this deployment. Given the success and productivity of my first mission, I welcomed the opportunity presented by the Prometheus II team to further enhance my skills and capacities.
MPF: How were you received by French colleagues, and how did you manage the transition to the French system?
Marekhi Kopadze: The reception was exceptionally warm, and French colleagues are quite collegial. As this is already my second experience in France, and I am conversant in French, collaboration with Beauvais colleagues was strong from the start, which has further engendered trust and constructive exchanges and interactions. Moreover, the procedures applied in Georgia correspond to those in the EU, which has contributed to a seamless transition.
MPF: What are your currently daily tasks?
Marekhi Kopadze: Our primary focus is on preventing irregular migration and criminal activity. We achieve this by checking the validity of travel documents, ensuring all necessary travel conditions are met, in addition to profiling passengers. Just recently, we identified an Albanian citizen traveling to Dublin with a false Romanian passport.
MPF: In this second deployment as a liaison officer, are you involved in any new tasks or have you adopted different approaches compared to your previous experience?
Marekhi Kopadze: Beauvais airport is smaller (compared to Charles de Gaulle airport), with only two flights from Kutaisi (Georgia), allowing for a very thorough check of all travellers. We also conduct “gate checks” and inspect flights arriving from the Schengen area and departing for Ireland and the UK, which I did not experience in my previous deployment. Moreover, in this deployment, besides the French colleagues, we also have colleagues from Frontex present, adding an additional layer to the overall experience and making the team more professionally diverse.
MPF: What is the added value of this deployment?
Marekhi Kopadze: With 17 years of experience as border officer, this deployment in France is crucial for me personally. It accords me the opportunity to enhance my proficiency and refine my skillset, which will be of added value when I return to Georgia and share my experience with my colleagues.
MPF: Last but certainly not least, your deployment is in the framework of the Prometheus II project. How has the team supported you?
Marekhi Kopadze: I’m very grateful for the constant support from the Prometheus II team, which I highly appreciate. They are always available to provide necessary information and guide me when needed. Moreover, we maintain direct contact throughout the deployment. Additionally, I share monthly reports on my deployment with the team, highlighting any unique cases, and providing a situational update more broadly.
MPF: Thank you for availing yourself and sharing your insights.
Marekhi Kopadze: Thank you for speaking with me.