Emerging Security Threats in the Western Balkans

Chair: Silvia D’Amato (University of Florence & JMU)
Emerging Security Threats in the Western Balkans

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Monday, April 23rd
9:30 AM

Promoting Security in the Western Balkans through Further NATO Enlargement


Elsa LANG, James Madison University

9:30 AM - 10:00 AM

The accession of Slovenia, Croatia, Albania, and most recently Montenegro, into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have demonstrated a commitment by NATO to integrate Western Balkan states to promote security and stability in the region. Considering this, two research questions have emerged: has NATO enlargement within the Western Balkans promoted security in the region through the additions of Croatia and Albania as member states? And to what extent could further NATO enlargement promote an increase of security and cooperation in the Western Balkans? To answer this first question, the case studies of Albania and Croatia will be evaluated based on the influence NATO has had in these two countries in the areas of collective defense, cooperative security, and crisis management. To answer the second research question, this paper specifically seeks to identify the potential pathways for NATO integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Macedonia, as they are the two most likely candidates to be considered for future NATO integration. Ultimately, this paper seeks to identify both the potential benefits and challenges of these two countries’ accession into NATO based off political factors and current challenges to their defense structures. Two main findings have emerged in this paper— first, that during the NATO accession process, political-social norms are less important than political-military norms, and second, that even if a candidate state meets the basic requirements for membership, NATO’s decision to pursue enlargement is ultimately political and based off potential strategic gain.

10:00 AM

The Security of the Balkan States and the Current Security Threats


Rinor GECAJ, University of Prishtina

10:00 AM - 10:30 AM

One of the major issues facing Western Balkan countries is their security and continuous threats posed to this security. After the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia, and finally with the declaration of Kosovo’s independence, one of the main goals of the Western Balkans states is to achieve reform of the security policy and establish good neighborhood relations in the region. Balkan states are progressing in reforming their security and defense policy in accordance with NATO membership requirements and peace partnerships. In essence, despite the formal commitments of all the Western Balkans countries to good neighboring relations and to their contribution to regional stability and security, within them is still prevalent a certain obvious degree of anxiety, due to their evident lack of trust about the future behavior of certain other countries of the region. This paper aims to identify the major threats to the security of Balkans states, how to achieve and ensure the security in the Balkans, and how to enhance cooperation between Balkan states to achieve this security. In this paper first are identified, national security and defense policies of the countries of the Western Balkans, the key risks that may destabilize the region and bring to the re-emergence of armed conflicts, including conventional responses, threats of political nature, ethnic and religious aspects, those of state formation and of undetermined borders. The aspects of normalization of the defense relations between Kosovo and Serbia, through confidence building measures, will be discussed considering the potential of this dialogue for stabilizing the disturbed neighborhood relations in the region. Through ought the paper the role of NATO’s military involvement in the Western Balkans as a deterrent and stabilizing force will be analyzed as well.

10:30 AM

Regions of Blurred Power: Violent Non-State Actors in the Western Balkans


Fabio SEFERI, University of Florence

10:30 AM - 11:00 AM

In conflict-prone and/or post-conflict environments, the action of violent non-state actors (VNSAs) brings up many security concerns and issues since it wedges in the grey zones of state authority. Indeed, violent non-state actors emerge and function countering the state: in the opposition to state authority they find their raison d’etre, since most of them challenge the legitimacy and the integrity of the state itself. A typology of violent non-state actors through the lines of authority over population or authority over territory can help us explain where the “lost spaces” of state sovereignty are. While during state collapse a certain typology of VNSAs emerge, post-conflict societies are keener to becoming the theatre of other types of VNSAs, such as criminal gangs which exploit the ties between legal and illegal spheres of state economy. The Western Balkans, in this sense, offer a perfect example of how different VNSAs counter state authority while trying to impose their own, since they have seen the emergence of all different types of VNSAs after the end of the Cold War and the collapse of Yugoslavia: starting from insurgents and warlords during the Balkan Wars, criminal gangs that wedged in illegal trafficking of many types, and, more recently, jihadi groups belonging to transnational network of radicalized Islamic extremism.

11:00 AM

Cyber Security and Public Administration in Croatia


Petra BANIČEVIĆ, University of Zagreb

11:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Information and communication development brought new dangers for citizen’s rights and privacy. Information as a new power will largely determine the position of states and their administrations, and then the position of citizens and the private sector in the global game. In the last decade, the Republic of Croatia follows the trend of IT public sector, with less or more successes in certain segments. The field of my research work is the elaboration of issues of information security and protection of personal data and access to information through an overview of the current regulatory and legal data protection framework in the Republic of Croatia.

11:30 AM

Security and the Rule of Law: A Case Study of EUFOR Althea and EULEX Kosovo


John HOOD, James Madison University

11:30 AM - 12:00 PM

The accession criteria to join the European Union stresses certain conditions that need to be met join the union. One of these criteria is stability in the rule of law. The concept of rule of law in the Western Balkans is difficult to attain due to the history of instability in the region, specifically in Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The European Union has established two External Action Service missions, a civil-military mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina called EUFOR Althea and a rule of law mission in Kosovo called EULEX Kosovo. Bosnia and Herzegovina is still recovering from the Bosnian War and EUFOR Althea is important in restoring stability through the deployment of military forces and training police officers. EULEX Kosovo focuses on the promotion of the rule of law by providing monitoring, mentoring, and advising to police and judiciary. This paper will compare the two programs with the central question being: how does security affect the peace building process and the rule of law in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. The EUFOR Althea mission has received positive analyses while critics have perceived EULEX Kosovo negatively. This paper will compare the two missions and attempt to measure their effectiveness and success. In summary, EUFOR Althea has been perceived more successful because the structure is better established, there is a larger focus on the “bottom-up” approach, and there has been a stronger focus on security. On the other hand, the bureaucratic process has bogged down EULEX Kosovo and the lack of security in the region has also hindered the effectiveness.

2:00 PM

Declining Number of Foreign Fighters in the Balkans


Alexis HOLLON, James Madison University

2:00 PM - 2:30 PM

Thousands of foreign fighters originating from the Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo have joined the ranks of ISIS, traveling to the Middle East and return with terrorist training. They are a danger to their country of origin as well as the larger European community because they are ideologically radicalized and often hide in plain sight until an attack has been executed. In 2014, the number of radicalized individuals traveling to the Middle East has decreased dramatically. Similarly, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo introduced counter-terrorism measures around the same time to combat radicalization and increase safety. Research concerning whether or not this decrease of foreign fighters from the Balkans stem from a decrease in the relative power of ISIS or new counterterrorism strategies has been lacking. The research done in this paper sought to understand why the decrease in foreign fighters occurred and whether or not the policies implemented in the Western Balkans played a significant role in the reduction. However, this paper is unable to determine what has caused the decrease in foreign fighters. ISIS’s decline in power and drop in recruitment techniques occurred later than the 2013 decline in foreign fighters. The policies enacted by national governments in the Western Balkans are too drastically different from each other to have produced such succinct results across borders. Likewise, the policies were enacted just before the 2014 and have not all been effective combating foreign fighters making it unlikely that they are responsible for the decrease.

2:30 PM

The Development and Management of Security Risks along the Western Balkans Migration Route


Jonathan HARSH, James Madison University

2:30 PM - 3:00 PM

The Western Balkans Migration Route, stretching between the Middle East and the southeastern region of the European Union (EU), has long been a source of political and cultural strife, most recently due to its prevalence during the 2015 Migration Crisis. The chaotic movement of refugees and asylum seekers created an environment for security risks to develop along the route, with three in particular seeing a rise in prevalence: human smuggling, trafficking of illegal goods and the movement of dangerous individuals into the EU. This paper looks into, via separate case studies, the history and development of each security risk within the Western Balkans while analyzing each risk before and after the recent migration crisis. The paper also observes how the Balkan countries and EU member states have taken steps to address said security risks, the successes, failures and complications particularly during the migration crisis. One area of significance will be the lack of cohesive action within the EU institutions, which saw conflicting political ideologies, member states dealing with the flow of migrants and local issues within the Balkan countries preventing decisive action. The paper concludes noting that these security risks have seen a decrease along the Western Balkans Route since 2015, particularly following the EU-Turkey migration deal, which closed the passage along the route for migrants in 2016. However, it is noted that more coherence in the initiatives by local and international actors is key to further decrease these risks in the foreseeable future.