Greek police and child protection groups are to cooperate with their regional counterparts in establishing a Balkan center for missing and abused children, it was revealed yesterday. The initiative, discussed during a seminar in Athens attended by police and experts from 16 countries, was prompted by a reported increase in the number of children abducted for sexual and financial exploitation in Bulgaria and Romania. «Disappearances and the exploitation of minors are cross-border problems and demand cooperation,» a senior Greek officer told Kathimerini. The center is to be based on the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which brings together police from Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands. A drive by the Greek police and child protection groups, launched in May, has handled 11 cases of child disappearances or abuse successfully, the officer said. Meanwhile in Lisbon, European ministers backed an EU-wide alert system for missing children involving media campaigns.