by Marija Djakova. Originally published on 2014/03/15
The Syrian conflict has caused great global alarm due to its length as well as its countless victims. Currently, it seems like everyone is fighting against everyone, creating a chaos which may not be easily repaired. Sooner or later, however, the war will come to an end. Furthermore, the Islamic radical forces and the foreign fighters would be forced to flee the Syrian territories and return to the countries of residence. Many of these fighters come from the Balkan region (Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania, Serbia, Bulgaria…).There are no official statistics on the fighters from this region, but there is information that several have already been killed in the fights on the Syrian soil.
These facts have alarmed the political structures of the above-mentioned countries and made them think of possible threats to the regional stability with the return of cruel terrorists back to the homeland. Not only the security of the Balkans is at stake, also Europe as a whole is facing risks.
The negative impact of terrorism has already been witnessed in the Balkans, first with the killings of 5 Macedonian young boys in the vicinity of a lake near Skopje and the bombing of 5 Israeli citizen in the sea resort Burgas in Bulgaria. Whether both events are result of a radical Islamic fatalism is difficult to prove.
The lack of State strategy for these Syria fighters is evident. Each Balkan country has started to implement different methods in order to cope with them. What is more, there is not enough EU discourse on this topic despite raised fears. “We do not want people from Germany to take part in the civil war, “And we certainly do not want them to return and carry out attacks with their combat experience.” – The German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere declared this during a meeting with other EU Ministers of Home Affairs recently. The EU’s director of justice and home affairs, Gilles de Kerchove, admitted that “mechanisms for control at [the EU’s] exterior borders were drawn up with an eye on foreign visitors, not on Europeans.”
The involvement of such people in the conflict brings risks which should be carefully analyzed. The Balkan countries should more closely collaborate with the EU institutions and help them avoid the spread of terrorism in Europe as violence knows no borders.