ISIS Poses Threat to Balkans, Ministers Say

29 Jul 15
ISIS Poses Threat to Balkans, Ministers Say

The interior ministers of Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia said that ISIS was a real threat which could be fought only by cooperation between regional security services.

Igor Jovanovic

The interior ministers of Bosnia, Montenegro and Serbia | Photo by Beta

Interior ministers from the three Balkan countries held a meeting in Podgorica on Tuesday to discuss the threat from radical Islamist movements in the region and ways to prevent it through joint efforts.

“We have agreed that we will not allow terrorism to spread across the region and that we are ready to destroy it,” Bosnian Interior Minister Dragan Mektic told reporters.

Countries in the region have raised security levels and introduced new precautions to counter the threat of attacks by ISIS.

This measures were introduced after ISIS on June 5 released a video urging its supporters in the Balkans to kill “unbelievers” in their home countries.

Mektic said Bosnia and Herzegovina was not a centre for militant training and recruitment and that rumours about 4,000 Bosnian citizens being involved with ISIS were not true.

He said however that some 300 people from his country are currently fighting in Syria and Iraq. Fifty Bosnian citizens have returned from the Middle East battlefields, while 30 were killed there, he added.

Mektic said that members of the hardline Wahhabi movement were also a real threat to regional security and that some of them could be recruited for foreign war zones.

Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic told a joint press conference that radical Islamism was a new phenomenon in the region and that police and governments “must ensure … that citizens feel stability and security”.

“We have close cooperation with the Montenegrin police,” Stefanovic said, adding that “in many cases the two police force work as a single one”.

Asked about the attack on Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic in at the 20th anniversary commemoration of the Srebrenica massacres on July 11, Bosnian minister Mektic said that police have identified 20 people that were involved in the incident.

“Our services have identified close to 20 people about whom there is strong evidence of involvement in the attack on the Prime Minister Vucic,” Mektic said.

He said that Bosnian police have asked their Serbian colleagues to help since some of the suspects are Serbian citizens.

Vucic was attacked as he passed through the crowd of mourners, some of whom threw stones and water bottles at him before he was hustled away by security officers.

Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)