A former chief of the Czech Army has cautioned that the European Union is not paying attention enough to the Western Balkans – and thus allows “terrorists to rest in the region.”
“We are dealing with an entirely different part of Europe, that is, Western and Central Europe, and we have stopped paying attention to the Balkans since the 1990s war, especially security-wise,” sources reported the Czech army official Jiri Sedivy as telling the Czech media.
The General went on to say that “The problem of the Balkans is that it creates a safe environment where terrorist cells can be established, they can prepare there, they can have their logistical centers and a background that allows them to prepare and at the same time rest from carrying out complicated operations in Western Europe.”
The Czech official also noted that German and Austrian intelligence agencies have been warning during the last year that the Balkans is getting “pronouncedly radicalized”. He also underscored that current authorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo “are not efficient enough to deal with the phenomenon of terrorist radicalization that has been dragging on since the wars in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.”
“Are the authorities in these countries capable of coping with this? I do not think that they directly support it, but we must understand that simply, the efficiency of governmental organization is relatively low there. A typical example is Bosnia-Herzegovina, where there are three sides in the territory of the state – Serbian, Bosniak and Croat – which are yet to find common ground; Kosovo is continually struggling with economic problems, it has huge unemployment. All that represents fertile ground for radicalism to continually strengthen and expand,” said Sedivy.
“We simply need to know what is happening in those two countries, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Kosovo and possibly in Macedonia, and we must pay equal attention as to the problem of terrorism in Western Europe,” said the former chief of the Czech Army.
In the Syrian conflict, details of 159 individuals associated with foreign fighter activity in the Western Balkans have been made available in press reports.
Prior to the war in Syria, a small number of foreign fighters from the former Yugoslav Republics (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia, and Montenegro) and Albania reportedly traveled or attempted to travel to fight or train in various jihadist conflicts between 2003 and 2011.