In an exclusive interview for IBNA, the head of the Kosovo Center for Security Studies, Florian Qehaja talks about the threat that Kosovo may face from terrorist attacks, the role of security agencies in this aspect, regional cooperation in the domain of security, north of Kosovo and the process of the creation of Kosovo’s Armed Forces
IBNA: To what extent is Kosovo threatened by the militant group ISIS?
Florian Qehaja: The level of threat that Kosovo faces by ISIS and its supporters is not very high. Here I’m talking about classic terrorist attacks which would require the engagement of special importance. A high threat level only exists when there’s an imminent danger, but there are no indications for this. However, there’s an average level of threat, because those citizens who have joined ISIS in individual forms or unorganized forms, can take action at the detriment of public security, with the scope of spreading fear and insecurity.
IBNA: Kosovo police has increased security forces due to terrorist threats. Does this mean that the citizens of Kosovo have reason to worry?
Florian Qehaja: The state of alert of Kosovo police is in line with the reaction of police forces in other countries of the region and the world. Kosovo police doesn’t make any exception. I believe that it’s necessary to boost security in the border crossing points, to engage intelligent agencies in identifying particular individuals and strengthen coordination, especially between police, prosecution and courts.
Let us not forget the regional security cooperation, which is seen as limited, especially with Macedonia, because there are indicators that extremist elements operate between Kosovo and Macedonia.
All these actions by police must be seen as normal police reactions and must not be reflected among the population. The fact that the public opinion was told that lake of Badovc was poisoned spreads fear among the population and this is not in line with the level of real threat that exists.
IBNA: After the start of talks between Kosovo and Serbia in Brussels, it seems that the north of the country is calmer now. Is this stability fragile or are problems there beginning to be solved?
Florian Qehaja: There are significant improvements of the security situation in the north of the country. This is proof that political will-in this case of Belgrade- is essential for peace and security in that part of Kosovo. I believe that steps have been taken in order to dismantle the two formations: Serb police members and the so called “Civil Protection”. With the latest moves, Serbia reconfigures its rule by integrating its members within the security agencies of Kosovo. A financial barrier is also lifted, because Kosovo benefits if it spreads its authority in the northern part of the country.
However, this situation depends on political developments. In case of an eventual deterioration of relations, then instability could soon take its toll and as a result, many processes achieved so far could be jeopardized.
IBNA: Mr. Qehaja, how is the stance of the Serb List seen in relation to the creation of the Armed Forces of Kosovo (AFK)?
Florian Qehaja: This stance is in line with Serbia’s vision to stop the creation of key institutions of the state of Kosovo. Serbia’s stance in relation to the creation of AFK is political and is not based in any threat or risk evaluation. Personally, I believe that the process of the approval of constitutional changes on AFK will be difficult, because political subjects don’t want to involve the international factor to put pressure on Belgrade. /ibna/