“When I am doing a mess, they call me an Arab,
When I behave well, I am a Belgian”.

These are the words of a young adolescent during the trial of his father for terrorism. This statement was also a starting point for the work of the international meeting promoted by the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme that has taken place in Skopje 11-14th April 2018. Social, religious, ethnic and national fractures are feeding the risk of terrorist acts.

April 2018, the European Commission recommends to the Council of the European Union to open accession negotiations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in light of the progress achieved. EC invites to maintain and deepen the current reform momentum, mainly in the judicial system restoring the independence of the judiciary and enhancing the fight against organised crime, corruption included. The European Commission notes that the legal and institutional framework for protection of fundamental rights is largely in place in the country and reforms have enhanced compliance with European human rights standards, while full implementation requires sustained efforts.

On 14th April 2018, the President of the Supreme Court of the FY Republic of Macedonia, Jovo VANGELOVSKI, in presence of Chief Prosecutor Ljupco JOVESKI, hosted the Official Final Session of the Advanced Research Workshop (ARW) promoted by the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme held in Skopje, reaffirming the engagement and concrete steps undertaken on this base in the country to join Euro Atlantic institutions.

Directors of the ARW Skopje 2018, Myrianne Coen, Doctor in Sorbonne, Counsellor of Embassy (Be), Member of the Scientific Committee of the CSSII (Florence University) and Professor Ljubomir Kekenovski, Faculty of Economics, Cyril and Methodius University (Skopje), together with multinational and multidisciplinary senior experts in this conference on defence against terrorism within democratic institutions, thank in particular the President of the FY Republic of Macedonia for receiving at his Residence the participants. In his speech, President Dr Gjorge IVANOV went to the core of the conference works in reminding that, besides bureaucratic institutions, the leadership in Europe belongs to the proclaimed values of the European Convention of Human Rights. He pointed the necessity to maintain and practice them also when confronted to the speed of our world of today.

In the name of the ARW Skopje 2018, we wish to thank Defence Minister Radmila SHEKERINSKA, and Deputy Defense Minister Bekim MASKUTI that opened the event on 11 April 2018 by confirming their choice to join the Atlantic Alliance on the base of those shared values on both sides of the Atlantic, as cornerstone for the security of citizens of their own country and neighbouring ones. We take the opportunity to underline the engagement of the authorities of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to collaborate to the event, also by active participation of Senior qualified participants from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defense, the Supreme Court and the Office of the General Prosecutor.

The Advanced Research Workshop promoted by NATO SPSP has underlined that the exponential grow of transnational criminal networks has also fed the terrorists sphere of influence. This has not only put all NATO Member State but also most of its neighbors at risk. In the current environment, all States, including the most powerful, are on the edge of losing control. States that have responded with violence in order to defeat terrorism have merely been confronted by further violence. Development of social capital is the key for internal security. Good functioning of institutions is fundamental to preserve democracy. Transparency of trials is at the core to develop confidence in public security institutions.

To ensure the judiciary can function without undue influence as regards the fight against organised crime, corruption included, and terrorism as operational method deriving from such environment, will require sustained efforts not only in many areas of Southern Balkans but also in the European Union as an all. More needs to be done to effectively fight certain forms of crime such as money laundering, financial crimes and cybercrime, avoiding excesses that harm their own purpose. Coordination among all relevant stakeholders is essential. The number of convictions remains low. The capacity of institutions to effectively tackle corruption is still showing structural and operational deficiencies. Political interference remains a risk, preventing leaders to get and maintain consensus of the framework of democratic societies.

To defeat terrorism we must enhance democracy. Some thirty multinational and multidisciplinary experts met for three days in Skopje in order to contribute to the protection of citizens against terrorism and got to this same conclusion in identifying problems to confront threats from criminal organization with terrorists methods.

As a priority, they looked at those measures that not only respect democratic principles and human rights but also reinforce them, with the idea that only effective democracies have the means to regain control. At this stage of development of humanity and technology, security for people and for States requires participative, informed and educated citizens. The discussion focused on how to deepen the effectiveness of democratic institutions in order to reinforce resilience of societies.

Alliances, as any human society, rely on a community of values, shared, accepted, recognised but also effectively practised. NATO aims to solve problems, build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflicts. The Atlantic Alliance has been build on democratic values, the fundamental cornerstone to enable its members to consult and cooperate on defence and security issues.

Confronted with those “new threats” from Europe to over the Atlantic, the Advanced Research Workshop Skopje 2018 in the framework of the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme aimed at contributing to bridge the legitimacy gaps States and their citizens are suffering, holding in mind last month declaration of the Foreign Minister of FY Republic of Macedonia Nicola Dimitrov, during negotiation with neighbouring Greece about the name of his country:

“I spent half of the day thinking
what is important for the Greek public
and the other half what is the most important
for us here in the Republic of Macedonia”.

Concluding statement by ARW Skopje 2018