Macro approaches to the study of radicalisation and violent extremism: a view from the Balkan region

Lidija Georgieva
Professor, Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts; Center for Strategic Studies
Naum Trajanovski
Project Researcher; Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts; Center for Strategic Studies
Vlado Kambovski
Academician, Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts; Center for Strategic Studies, Head
22 December 2021

The aim of this report is to present an overview of the regional dynamics and patterns of radicalisation and violent extremism (VE) in four Balkan states: Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and North Macedonia. The focus of the analysis is on the institutional, or macro, drivers of VE, as well as the complexity of cooperation on preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) between various stakeholders: different types of institutions, patterns of support from domestic and foreign actors, and the dynamics of establishing formal and informal communication channels. The goal of this study is to identify the similarities or divergences that shaped the regional dynamics and contributed to the drivers of VE. The seven drivers of radicalisation that were identified in the preliminary stage of the CONNEKT project, and that form the basis of analysis are: territorial inequalities, economic deprivation, political grievances, cultural factors, religion, digital literacy, and transnational dynamics. The four country studies showed that there is a regional framework in the national P/CVE agendas which is mostly informed by the European Union (EU) and other international agencies. On the other hand, the institutional approaches, as well as the civil society organisations (CSOs) work and scholarly discourses revealed that the issue remains largely context based. The regional report draws from other four separate country reports drafted by national experts in each state.

The comparison is primarily focused on two aspects: the cooperation between different institutions, and the macro-level perception of the drivers of radicalisation. The country studies primarily explored the institutional norms and practices in the P/CVE work by focusing on practical examples, institutional perception of P/CVE, as well as the major shifts in the P/CVE agendas in past years, the cooperation between relevant domestic and foreign actors, and the cross-institutional communications. We depart from a regional perspective on P/CVE in our take on the four country studies and explore the other levels of transnationalism and local engagement on P/CVE. Lastly, we conclude that the contextual features are immensely significant for such a comparative study as they both inform the sub-regional (Western Balkans) and the regional (Southeastern Europe) contexts, and thus allow a cross-regional reading of the drivers of radicalisation at the macro level across regional borders.

This report is included in “MACRO APPROACHES TO THE STUDY OF RADICALISATION AND VIOLENT EXTREMISM IN MENA AND THE BALKANS” (D7.1 of the CONNEKT Project), also available on this website.

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