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    • Breaking Fear Talks highlighted BCSP's 20th anneverssary

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    • Date: 29 November 2017

      Involvement of citizens in preserving the accountability of security institutions in Serbia is necessary, oversight of the security sector remains a civil society mission in the Western Balkans because internal threats remain the primary source of fear in the region and political polarization of societies has led to the choice between democracy and security throughout Europe, conclusions are of the international conference organized for the BCSP 20th anniversary celebration.

      BCSP, formerly known as the Center for Civil-Military Relations (CCMR), was founded in 1997 and is the first civil society organization in Serbia specializing in security sector reform, said BCSP Director Sonja Stojanovic Gajic.

      "The idea of the founders was the demystification of security concepts and successful civilian oversight of security services. Three strategies on which the BCSP is based remain the building of individuals’ personal courage, formal and informal education of citizens and professionals in the security sector, as well as creation of a security community“, Stojanovic Gajic emhasized.

      BCSP is still dedicated towards the mobilization of the entire society for public interest oin the realization of the security institutions' responsibilities, added Stojanović Gajic.

      Personal experience of intimidation attempts during his academic career and at the very beginning of CCVO’s work was presented by one of the founders and the BCSP President of the Executive Board Miroslav Hadzic.

      "Possibility for collective fear-breaking is non-existent if an individual does not overcome fear on its own. I believe that free speech on security topics is the only way to overcome fear, and the citizens are now fearful because everyone who expresses opinions is subjected to media attacks and defamation", Hadzic said.

      The sanction for "offenses" against the regime during the 1990s was direct violence, but today these sanctions are of economic nature, as the citizens are most afraid of unemployment and destitution, according to the Vice President of the Executive Board of the BCSP and media researcher at the Institute of Social Sciences in Belgrade Jovanka Matic.

      "Centralization of economic flows has become a norm not only in Serbia, but also around the world, and the only possible solution to the problems lies in the promotion and development of a rational citizen who will be guided by the idea of a public good, and who is aware that he has the support of civil society organizations" concluded Matić.

      Threats in the Western Balkans communities come from within, external actors are used to intimidate voters, and civil society organizations need to fight against these narratives, were the conclusions of the second panel of the, which during which the current cooperation of civil society with state authorities, perceptions of threats in the region and the role of civil society in reducing security dilemmas were discussed.

      Democratic institutions and the rule of law have been endangered throughout Europe, and the polarization of societies has made it difficult to oversee the security sector, were the messages of the  third panel of the conference, which was dedicated to the deterioration of democratic control in EU security institutions, as well as responses to strategies which are increasingly being used to reduce the accountability of state security actors in Central and Eastern Europe.

      After the conference, Stevan Dojčinović, Sandra Benčić, Vukašin Obradović, Bobana Macanović and Miroslav Hadžić contributed to the gathering by presenting personal experiences of Breaking Fear.

       

      Conference "Breaking Fear: What Can Civil Society Do to Save Accountability of Security Governance in the Time of Fear?“ was organized as part of the BCSP's 20th anniversary celebration. BCSP is the first civil society organization in the Western Balkans specializing in security topics.

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