ISSYK-KUL, Kyrgyzstan -- Conferees from various countries agree on the role that private security firms can play in fighting terrorism.
Officials and security firm executives from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Armenia gathered at the 3rd International Conference of Private Security and Protection Services in Kosh-Kol, Issyk-Kul Province, September 2-3 to discuss "security firms' involvement in ... law enforcement's efforts to counter terrorism and other ant-isocial influences", Akjol Isayev, chairman of the Union of Security and Detective Agencies of Kyrgyzstan, the entity that organised the conference, told Caravanserai.
The conference brought together officials from Kyrgyz government security agencies and the leaders of the security communities of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Armenia.
"The conference also was held to enable participants to establish business ties ... that will protect citizens, businesses and economic interests," Isayev said.
Participants developed common tools to set shared security standards in their countries, he said, adding that they discussed collective measures to fight terrorist threats.
Many eyeballs to help fight terrorism
"About 10,000 individuals work in the private security sector in Kyrgyzstan and 100,000 in Kazakhstan," Isayev said. "We want to be on the same page and to share experiences readily."
Much depends on the professionalism of private security guards, who are on the front line for preventing terrorist attacks, he said.
"Security personnel need to [be able to] correctly and accurately identify, say, a suspicious package or suspicious individuals and respond in a timely manner," he said. "We should work very closely with law enforcement agencies."
In Kyrgyzstan, the Interior Ministry (MVD) and security firms work together by holding joint training sessions and exercises, he said.
"Private security and protection firm employees are constantly working ... to help develop the government agencies that are responsible for public safety," Prime Minister Sooronbai Jeenbekov said in welcoming remarks to participants at the conference.
The number of threats to Kyrgyz security grows every year, he said.
"That includes terror attacks," Jeenbekov added. "The evolving situation requires new approaches to managing risks for the individual, society and state as a whole."
Joint effort needed
It will require a team effort by the state, the security sector -- both public and private -- and civil society to fight the extremist threat, a foreign security consultant, Aleksandr Tsvetkov, said at the conference.
"Without actors in the private security sector who productively co-operate with state law enforcement and security agencies, it is impossible to reliably protect ... citizens and the state," he said.
"We can beat terrorism only by combining forces!" another participant from abroad, politician Ivan Sukharev, said at the forum, agreeing with Tsvetkov.
By the end of the conference, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan had signed a number of co-operation agreements, Isayev said, adding that Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Belarus agreed to form the Eurasian Security Industry Alliance.
The National Business Club of Kyrgyzstan and the Union of Security and Detective Agencies of Kyrgyzstan signed their own co-operation pact with the Republic of Bashkortostan's private security industry and the Ufa municipal Centre for Public Safety.
"All [these] agreements are meant to improve the work of private security firms," Isayev said. "The alliance is working out a common formula for fighting terrorism."
Earlier conferences took place in 2014 and 2015 in other CIS countries, he said.