Monday, May 16, 2016

NATO Anti-Radicalism Center to Open in Albania

New organization should help counter foreign fighters emanating from the Balkans, though countries say they have already stemmed the flow abroad.
16 May 2016
Albania Defense Minister Mimi Kodheli (pictured) revealed on 13 May that NATO would launch a new training center to fight radicalization in the capital city of Tirana, The Associated Press reports.
Kodheli said that all 28 NATO member states had recently approved the proposal for the center, which would concentrate on preventing radicalization of local citizens, which has been an urgent problem in some Balkan countries.

People from the NATO member and partner countries will be trained to "understand the causes and reasons of radicalization of the citizens" and to design prevention strategies, AP quoted Kodheli as saying.

No timetable for opening the center was provided.

Though Muslim-majority Albania and Kosovo say they have succeeded in stalling the departure of their citizens to join terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria, ISIS recruitment in the Balkans is an on-going problem.

In Albania, 24 citizens from three villages in the southeast of the country have left to join terrorists in the Middle East over the past three years, Balkan Insight reports. So far, four of them have reportedly been killed.

On 13 April, Kosovar Samet Imishti was sentenced to seven months jail for spreading ISIS propaganda on Facebook. Imishti was the first Kosovar citizen to be given s sentence for propaganda on behalf of s terrorist organization.

According to Bosnia’s anti-terrorism group, an estimated 124 Bosnians are involved in foreign wars – four fighting in Ukraine and the others for the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Some already want to return home, and negotiations are underway to facilitate the process, evidently with lighter sentences offered to those who provide intelligence.

A report on the B92 website also cites "a dozen to several dozen" Montenegrin citizens fighting alongside ISIS. As just one example, B92 mentioned a former Muslim cleric from Montenegro who was reportedly killed fighting in the ranks of ISIS in Syria.

According to Defense Minister Kodheli, the time now is "when the phenomenon of the foreign terrorist fighters has reached considerable levels," AP reports.

  • Tirana will host the NATO Parliamentary Assembly later in the month."Albania as a NATO member country has the honor to host the Parliamentary Assembly, which will discuss the toughest challenges that our Alliance has to cope with in the near and distant future," Business Standard quoted the chairman of the Albanian delegation to the interparliamentary organ of NATO, Pandeli Majko, as saying.

  • In another sign of good relations with NATO, Albanian President Bujar Nishani visited the alliance’s headquarters at the end of April to discuss preparations for the upcoming Warsaw summit. A NATO press release noted that Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had “praised Albania for its contributions to Allied security and for its role in strengthening stability in the Western Balkans.”

  • Albania became s full member of NATO in 2009.
Compiled by Katerina Glacnerova

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