Create resilience of Montenegrin society to violent extremism
Podgorica, (MINA) – The young population is particularly vulnerable to violent extremism, and all segments of Montenegrin society need to be involved in creating resilience to the phenomenon, it was assessed at the training for civil society representatives organized by Forum MNE.
The three-day training “Community Resistance to Violent Extremism” is part of the regional project “Communities First: Creation of a civil society hub to prevent and counter violent extremism – From Prevention to Reintegration”.
The Executive Director of the Forum MNE, Elvira Hadžibegović Bubanja, said it was a three-year regional project, which will be completed by March 2021.
“Now it may not seem logical to you why we are dealing with this phenomenon, given that the figures relating to Montenegro are very low,” Hadžibegović Bubanja said.
She said that since 2015, the phenomenon has begun to spread to youth groups.
“Young people are increasingly joining extremist groups, or are being targeted by extremist recruiters, precisely because of the sensitivity of their age, or the challenges that they face during adolescence and growing up,” Hadžibegović Bubanja specified.
That is why, as she stated, youth workers are invited to deal with this topic.
Hadžibegović Bubanja stated that by the end of this year, after carrying out program for strengthening civil society capacities within this field, she would announce a call for small grants.
“It certainly affects the motivation of other organizations that are in our network, but sometimes the network and partnership we build up is more important to us,” she said.
State Secretary at the Ministry of Interior and National Coordinator for Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE), Dragan Pejanović, said violent extremism is a global problem and must be addressed in a global manner.
He warned that the young population is particularly vulnerable to violent extremism.
Pejanović said that an individual, usually a younger person, is being radicalized in various ways – through the Internet, through direct contact or through the media.
He emphasized that a radical idea does not have to be negative in itself, but it is a very serious global problem if the idea is to be violently implemented.
“We are here to work together. Let’s write projects, there is money for projects like this,” Pejanović said.
According to him, terrorism should not be suppressed when it happens, but, as he stated, in its infancy.
Then, he indicated, certain individuals and groups should be identified and treated in a specific way.
“We are a protection and assistance team that will handle the cases of those who did not break the law, because if they did, they would be processed through the police, the prosecution and the court,” Pejanović explained.
He said there was a lot of room for cooperation with the civilian sector.
“Every project proposed by the Forum MNE, which is in line with state policy, will receive the approval of the Operational Team, especially at the local level,” said Pejanović.
According to him, problems arise precisely in local communities, where there are certain radical individuals.
“The bottom line is that we educate other structures of society, because the response to this phenomenon must be shared. All structures of society must be involved in answering this very complex question,” Pejanović said.
He emphasized that prevention is very important.
“Recent research done in Western Europe shows that terrorist acts are not carried out by organizations or groups but by individuals who are radicalized and have no criminal history,” Pejanović explained.
He added that the security sector had the problem of identifying those persons and finding the perpetrators of these most serious crimes.
“This is where you are very important to us. I want us to build a strong partnership to counter this phenomenon. We must work side by side, while encouraging other segments of society, to work together with us towards building resilience of Montenegrin society to this phenomenon,” said Pejanović.
He said that a lot has been done in Montenegro. “A new strategy for countering violent extremism is under preparation, it has been sent to the European Commission for opinion and in January we plan to submit this material to the Government.”
“In Montenegro, we managed to keep this phenomenon completely under control, with the activities of the security sector and in cooperation with religious communities,” Pejanović said.
He said that since 2012, only 26 Montenegrin nationals have gone to foreign fronts, including 18 men, five women and three children.
“Six people are believed to have been killed and ten were returned to Montenegro before 2015, when this crime was criminalized,” Pejanović said.
He said that of the ten returnees, two were convicted by a final verdict, and served their sentence at the Institute for Execution of Criminal Sanctions, where an individual program of deradicalization and re-socialization was carried out for them.
Pejanović said that even though the problem is not largely present in Montenegro, that does not mean that we should not take preventive measures.
“It is also important to keep migration flows under control because extremists can infiltrate them,” Pejanović added.
Kristina Ulama of DeFacto Consultancy said that from September 2017 to May last year, she conducted a P / CVE survey in Montenegro.
The survey found, among other things, that about 67 percent of citizens believe that there is a possibility of a terrorist attack, and that citizens feel less secure in the environment in which they live compared to 2016.
When it comes to migrants, citizens have a negative attitude towards them, and three quarters of respondents believe that stronger measures should be taken to curb illegal migration.
According to the research, the main drivers of violent extremism are dissatisfaction and frustration about the future due to unmet social and economic needs, defense of religion and life according to Muslim rules, refusal and rejection of growing diversity in society, social exclusion and the need to belong to a particular group.
Forum MNE is implementing a three-year project in partnership with the Center for Legal Civic Initiatives (Albania), Hope and Homes for Children (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Partners Kosova – Center for Conflict Management (Kosovo), Center for Common Ground (North Macedonia), and Cultural Center DamaD (Serbia) with financial support from the European Union and the Ministry of Public Administration Of Montenegro.
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