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Security in the Western Balkans: Realities and Perceptions

Public Debate – October 11, 2013 – Hotel TIRANA INTERNATIONAL

Institute for Democracy and Mediation supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Norway organized on Friday 11th of October 2013 at Hotel Tirana International the public debate “Security in the Western Balkans: Realities and perceptions”.

The debate aimed to introduce the audience with analytical data on two main security themes: the framework of cooperation between Albania, Kosovo and Serbia and on the perceptions of Albanian public on threats to security from 2000 to present.

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The debate was addressed by representatives from the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Justive,General Directorate of State Police and by other representatives of public institutions, civil society and academic circles.

The discussion was focused on the cooperation trends in security sector between Albania. Kosovo and Serbia on bilateral and multilateral plan  paying special attention to the actual agreements.

According to the participants in general bilateral relations are dominated by   simultaneous asymmetry especially regarding relations  between Albania and Kosovo which are more developed compared to those between Albania and Serbia. Within this framework, regional cooperation is mainly supported by three main factors:

–          Encouraging regional cooperation in Western Balkans from international community as a part of integration processes and as an obligation of the Stabilization and Association process

–          Pragmatic agreements that come as a  real need of the countries to have a more unified approach on regional phenomena

–          Historical legacies and context where cooperation is mostly lead not by the needs but by interests and political will for reconciliation

The representative of the Ministry of Defense Rezart Bejkaj provided a detailed overview of the fields of cooperation between Albania and Kosova as well as focused on the development of these relations.  Regarding cooperation with Serbia it is almost inexistent. Regarding agreements between Kosova and Serbia despite recent positive steps, in general there is a climate of mistrust ruling relations between the two countries.

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Regarding assessment of public threats to security the panelists observed that there is lack of systematic research in this regard.

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Moreover, Mr Auron Pasha emphasized that although the security sector is rather complex, policy making institutions shall be engaged in conducting assessments of perceptions over different phenomena that exist in the Albanian reality.  

On the other hand Kol. Foto Duro stated that within this framework public perceptions are rather important and shall be assessed as such but security institutions lack the capacity to conduct proper analysis.  

The debate takes place within the framework of a series of activities undertaken by three independent think tanks (Belgrade Center for Security Studies. Kosovo Center for Security Studies and Institute for Democracy and Mediation) within the framework of the regional project “Security Research Forum” . These activities aim to contribute in building communication bridges among communities of researcher and policy making of security sector in Serbia, Albania and Kosovo.