In its 2020-21 report, the Croatian Security and Intelligence Agency (SOA) says Croatia is a secure and stable democracy, but warns of rising extremism and radicalism due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Croatian media reported. on Monday.
We are witnessing the biggest pandemic in modern history, which has caused unprecedented disruptions in daily life and great damage to the global economy, said in his introduction the director of SOA Daniel Markić.
The pandemic has exacerbated extremism and radicalism, particularly due to misinformation and conspiracy theories about Europe’s response to the crisis and the effectiveness of democratic and liberal political and social systems, according to the seventh SOA report.
The SOA also monitored the growing global dominance of geopolitical reorganizations and competitions, as well as the strengthening of economic, political, and value challenges to liberal democracies in the international order.
Climate change is increasingly showing its consequences, the report said.
The report shows that non-Western actors are active in Croatia’s southeastern neighborhood and that reforms aimed at meeting European standards are slow.
The Western Balkans is still plagued by unfinished stabilization processes and unresolved inter-state and inter-ethnic issues, as well as difficulties in achieving European integration due to insufficient reforms.
Unfavorable political and economic conditions facilitate the strengthening of radical and extreme tendencies, as well as divisions within fragile societies, and social and inter-ethnic tensions can lead to incidents, especially in communities with unresolved inter-ethnic relations.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is still politically unstable, mainly due to the differing views of its constituent peoples on the country’s future constitutional and legal system.
Failure to reach a Serb-Albanian agreement on Kosovo continues to contribute to regional instability and social divisions in Montenegro, where anti-NATO, pro-Serb and pro-Russian parties have considerable political power over sovereigns. , pro-Western forces, is causing particular insecurity in the Western Balkans.
In the regional context, some state officials in Serbia are promoting the concept of the “Serbian world” as a single Serbian political people and a single political and state union of all Serbs in Southeast Europe, in which all Serbs should follow a political direction, that of Serbia.
The promotion of such ideas by top Serbian officials is also destabilizing the delicate inter-ethnic and inter-state relations in Southeast Europe, especially with regard to BiH and Montenegro.
Organized crime in this part of Europe is also exacerbated by the spread of illegal activities, while hotspots like Syria and Libya continue to represent sources of instability and threats.
Cyber technologies have facilitated large-scale cyber attacks aimed at stealing state and industry data, while illegal migration has increased tremendously in Southeast Europe, with hundreds of thousands of migrants passing through them.
The SOA warns that state-sponsored cyberattacks are becoming increasingly common in espionage.
Those attacks target carefully selected targets that have been well studied in advance and are carried out by state-sponsored APT (Continuous Advanced Threat) groups, which are closely linked to the security and intelligence systems of individual countries. Such cyber-attacks mainly target EU and NATO member states.
In recent years, Croatia has been the target of dozens of state-sponsored cyber attacks. Most of them were trying to penetrate the information and communication systems of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and the Ministry of Defense.
SOA concludes that cyber resilience is becoming the key to national security in the digital age.
The past period was also marked by the creation, rapid expansion and territorial loss of the Islamic State, the world’s largest terrorist organization, and the agency also monitored how the spread of democratic values in the world was replaced by authoritarian tendencies with the return of War tensions Cold, espionage and the spread of false news and propaganda.
It has not currently identified direct terrorist threats to Croatian institutions, citizens or interest from terrorist groups, and the threat of attacks organized by terrorist groups is still low, but the possibility of a terrorist attack (mainly by independent attackers) cannot be ruled out. never again
Although ISIL and Al Qaeda have been significantly weakened and their capacity to conduct foreign operations and attacks has diminished, they remain a threat to Europe. In EU member states, the level of threat from Islamic terrorism varies from low in Central and Eastern European countries to medium or high in most Western European countries.
The report published on the SOA website also states that there are no indications of significant destabilization for Croatia, even in such a challenging time and in such a dynamic security environment.