Countering the Terrorist Threat

By Fatmir Mediu

Fatmir Mediu is the head of the Republican Party of Albania. He is a former Defense Minister and Minister for the Environment. He was a Member of the Albanian Parliament for four consecutive terms, and served at various times as Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Stability Pact and European Integration, and as a member of the Parliamentary Committees on Foreign Affairs, Security, and Legal Issues.

The Balkan states are facing a series of problems. Geopolitical rivalry is stoking tensions in the region, Turkey has become more assertive in promoting its interests, and the U.S. still wants to incorporate the Western Balkans into NATO, while Russia considers the Balkans its own backyard. EU membership remains the main goal for Balkan countries, but EU fatigue on new member states has raised a lot of skepticism.

The Balkans are especially vulnerable to infiltration from terrorist groups like the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. Our diverse ethnic and multi-religious region has seen a number of historic conflicts, some still simmering and others dormant, which could be ignited by this new seed of radicalism. Most of the states in the region have very unstable political situations – weak governments and security institutions – stretched thin by economic crisis, war, political infighting, corruption, and the increasing numbers of refugees and migrants trying to get to the EU. Prolonged economic crisis and high unemployment have alienated many, exposing youth especially to radicalization. The increasing return and presence of fanatical fighters trained in Syria, Iraq, and Libya creates a serious and immediate threat.

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