Experts call for improved anti-terrorism strategy in Serbia

Questions are being asked in Serbia about the authorities’ response to a series of right-wing attacks and the increasingly vocal presence of right-wing groups, most recently as part of the anti-vaccination movement.

In April this year, radio host and anti-fascist activist Dasko Milinovic was assaulted by two men armed with pepper spray and metal bars on his way to work in the northern town of Novi Sad. country. The alleged assailants were arrested along with a third man for incitement to violence. The first hearing of the trial was to take place on November 18; in June 2019, neo-Nazis from the southern town of Nis stabbed Uros Janjic, who was wearing a t-shirt with an anti-fascist slogan. The attack was classified as a hate crime and three men were arrested. Their trial is ongoing.

Members of the far-right group Narodne Patrole [People’s Patrols] – notorious for attacking refugees and migrants traveling through Serbia – have played a leading role in recent “anti-vaccine” protests in Serbia.

Kisic said it was vital that Serbia’s counterterrorism strategy faithfully reflected the situation on the ground.

“First of all, this increase in right-wing extremism, right-wing violence, is not just in Serbia; it has certain specificities here, but it is a danger all over the world, ”she said. “So the basis for this new strategy must start from this situation on the ground. “

According to civil society groups and the Serbian office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Serbian interior ministry is evaluating the current strategy. But Kisic said the contribution of the various ministries covered by the strategy was late.

“The ministries listed in the strategy should have already published their reports, of course with a certain level of secrecy for certain security-related data, and then on this basis, the assessment of the strategy should be made,” he said. she declared.

Elsewhere in the Balkans, Bosnia and Herzegovina has yet to replace its own counterterrorism strategy, which expired last year. Kosovo, which addresses threat from Islamic State and radicalization of ethnic Serbs and Albanians, expires in 2023

North Macedonia has a similar strategy that encourages the rehabilitation and reintegration of returnees from foreign battlefields and pays particular attention to Islamist extremism. Montenegro’s own strategy also stresses the need to provide support to returnees. Albania does not recognize specific forms of violent extremism.

Under the current Serbian strategy, the lion’s share of funding goes to the Interior Ministry, which in 2017-2019 received just over 2.2 million euros. During this period, some 5,300 euros went to the Ministry of Justice, 12,250 euros to the Ministry of Culture and Information and 11,700 euros to the Ministry of Commerce, Tourism and Telecommunications.

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