Western Balkan countries expect to more readily address security threats by harmonising their security policies with those of the EU.
By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 05/12/13
Participants in the Friedrich Ebert Foundation's project on comparative research regarding security sector synchronisation in Pristina. [Linda Karadaku/SETimes]
Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia are trying to synchronise their security policies with those of the EU to respond more efficiently to terrorism and other common security threats.
The process has included wide reforms and standards-setting, encompassing re-organisation of security agencies, securing a high-level ethical and loyal workforce, and implementing appropriate legislation.
The EU's role is to monitor and ensure that local legislation is adopted and implemented as well as to check its compatibility with EU standards, said Alessandro Rotta, political affairs advisor to the EU special envoy in Kosovo.
"Also, [the EU's role is] to provide capacity and strengthen local capacities by providing assistance in the security sector and in the fight against terrorism," Rotta told SETimes.
Experts said establishing a legal framework and increasing transparency based on existing EU standards is central to improving the security agencies' efficiency in addressing common security threats.
The need to synchronise the security policies stems from the changing reality that terrorism is not considered a mid-level threat anymore, said Florian Qehaja, executive director of the Kosovo Centre for Security Studies in Pristina.
Six people were arrested in Kosovo on terrorism and illegal possession of weapons charges last month.
"[Terrorists] have viewed these countries as transit countries to penetrate into Europe. Until now, the groups with terrorist potential have used soft power to extend their influence of religious character. But now, they are in a position when they have started to use force as a tool," Qehaja told SETimes.
Policy synchronising is important because the Western Balkan countries play a significant role in maintaining European security, said Andreja Bogdanovski, a senior researcher at the think-tank Analytica in Skopje.
"These countries are trying ... at the same time to create a coherent security bloc on the European content. Together they will better fight potential threats," Bogdanovski told SETimes.
Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia were part of a joint project supported by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, which included comparative research on the synchronisation progress.
Each country has faced its share of challenges in implementing reforms, said Besa Luzha, a programme coordinator for the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.
"They are on a good path, but they still have a lot of work to do," Luzha told SETimes.
Lusha said the synchronisation process also intends to stimulate regional co-operation, which is particularly important as Western Balkan countries aspire to EU membership.
"The more they standardise in accordance to the European demands, the more prepared they will be to jointly face challenges," Lusha said.
What should Western Balkan countries do to fully synchronise their security policies with those of the EU? Share your opinion in the comments space.