On 23 November 2021 „Conference on Media, Terrorism and Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) in the Western Balkans – Case studies” took place in RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation. The main purpose of the Conference was to enhance national and regional capacities in the Western Balkans to combat terrorism in the field of digital media as well as to encourage the improvement and exchange of experiences among the countries of the Western Balkans in terms of returning foreign fighters.
Welcome adresses were delivered by MG Slaven Zdilar, RACVIAC Deputy Director and Dr Susan Spenksa, Head of the Security Co-operation Department, OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (online). Opening the Workshop MG Zdilar said: „At the very beginning I would like to use this opportunity to thank Germany for providing financial support for this event. Furthermore, I would also like to greet Ms Susan E. Penksa, Head of Department for Security Co-operation in the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, who is our partner in this activity.“
„In accordance with RACVIAC mission to foster dialogue and cooperation on security matters in the Western Balkans we see this Conference as an excellent opportunity to further coordinate efforts in this field and to promote this issue through the exchange of experiences and sharing of information“, he concluded.
Speaking on behalf of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina Dr Susan E. Penksa said: “By working together we can discourage narratives that breed violence and promote a united front to counter violent extremism and terrorism in all its forms – including by upholding factual and professional reporting as well as by ensuring freedom of expression.”
She also emphasized the fact that the media is a valuable partner in preventing and countering terrorism, pointing out: „Mutual knowledge exchange is a prerequisite for the development of effective counter-terrorism measures. It will help us improve the success of our policies and activities as well as deliver whole-of-government and whole of society approaches.“
The Conference focused on trying to analyze the specific needs of the countries in order to find the best solutions in the fight against terrorism in the field of digital media and how we can use digital media as a tool to prevent terrorist acts in the Western Balkans. Furthermore, the participants tried to find the best ways to help improve cooperation between state institutions and technology companies in the fight against terrorism with concrete ideas and activities that need to be implemented in the future.
This one-day Workshop consisted of three sessions that addressed specific areas related to the topic. The first session was dedicated to Western Balkans in the fight against terrorism in the field of digital media in which Mr Agron Sojati, Head of the Integrative Internal Security Governance (IISG) Secretariat, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina presented IISG’s mission, structure, members and achievements. Mr Krešimir Mamić, Head of the Counter-terrorism service, Zagreb, Croatia gave an overview of the “development” of terrorism in the last 50 years, saying that prevention is the basic weapon against modern terrorism and gave possible solutions on how to fight terrorism through digital media.
In the second session Ms Afrodita Musliu, Executive Director of Nexus Civil Concept, North Macedonia, Mr Denis Džidić, Executive Director of BIRN, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Dr Majda Halilović, Head of Research Atlantic Initiative, Bosnia and Herzegovina presented their views on how to use media as a tool to prevent terrorist acts in the Western Balkans. Ms Musliu in her presentation offered an answer on how the media should cover a terrorist attack: „the primary objective is to look through the prism of ethics to check the boundaries of reporting and journalists need to create awareness and knowledge to stick to balance and sober facts when reporting about terrorist attacks“.
Dr Florian Qehaja, Center for Security Studies, Kosovo*, Mr Nedžad Eminagić, Head of Department for Network and Service, Regulatory Agency for Communications Bosnia and Herzegovina and Ms Amela Efendić, Head of Office, MFS – Emmaus, Bosnia and Herzegovina shared their expertise, opinions and possible solutions on how to improve co-operation between state institutions in the Western Balkans and technology companies in the fight against terrorism.
The Workshop gathered government representatives as well as civil society, International organizations, academia and media representatives from Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey and Kosovo*. This event is a continuation of a series of activities organized under the aegis of RACVIAC, in cooperation with the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation is grateful to all speakers and participants for contributing with their expertise to the overall success and attractiveness of the Conference.
*This Designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence (In accordance with Arrangements regarding representation and cooperation).