[JURIST] The Balkan region, once plagued by a reputation for dangerous crime and political instability, is now one of the safest regions in Europe, according to a UN study [PDF text; press release] released Thursday. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) [official website] found that violent crimes, such as rape, assault and homicide, as well as property crimes, such as robbery and burglary, are lower in the nine Balkan countries than in most of Western Europe. Homicide rates in particular continue to drop in every Balkan state, a trend the report says is likely to continue because these states do not suffer from the poverty, unchecked urbanization, and rampant unemployment that have led to crime in other countries. Corruption and organized crime [Al Jazeera report] does still remain a major problem in the region, even though the countries have signed the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime [PDF text].
Albania has the highest crime rate in the region, due in large part to drug trafficking. Kosovo, which declared independence [JURIST report] from Serbia in February, remains relatively unstable after recent wars and an economic collapse. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has established a security sector development plan [official websites] for Kosovo to help reduce the already dropping crime rates. AP has more.