Reflections on Efforts to Prevent and Counter Radicalization and Violent Extremism in the Balkans

Over the past two years there has been a marked increase in the attention given to the issue of preventing and countering violent extremism in the Balkans. This reflects global worries about ISIS- inspired violence in Syria and Iraq, but also attacks committed in ISIS’s name in other countries, especially European countries which struggle to maintain free and open societies while protecting citizens from such random violence. There is a particular concern about foreign fighters, trained and hardened while fighting in “the Caliphate,” returning to European cities to perpetrate violent acts, as well as of at-risk individuals in and from western countries being groomed and radicalized to commit acts of violence as a part of organized terror campaigns or as lone wolves.This essay considers the “new” efforts aimed at preventing and countering violent extremism and argues that they are quite often the same kind of actions taken to establish the basic elements of democratic, resilient societies.