News and events

Roundtable with a focus on Post-Brexit Security in Europe, Migration, the Illicit Trafficking in Drugs, the Threat to Europe by Foreign Fighters, 01 March 2019, Budapest, Hungary

The Chairman of the IISC General Assembly Rumen Petkov is in Hungary to attend, together with other IISC members, a roundtable organized by the IISC and hosted by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of Hungary Sándor Pintér. Mr. Pintér is a member of the IISC Consultative Board. The event was attended by, inter alia, Prof. Kamen Penkov, IISC Chief Executive Officer; Dr. Ely Karmon, member of the IISC General Assembly; Mrs. Vaska Penkova, a security expert; and experts from Hungary's Ministry of Interior.

The forum is focused on an analysis of the post-Brexit European security architecture, refugees and migration-related problems, global trends in the illicit trafficking in drugs, the threat to Europe by foreign fighters and the influx of emigrants.

In his report Rumen Petkov emphasized the current situation of migration in Europe and described it as an unprecedented phenomenon.

"The conclusion that the International Institute for Security and Cooperation made five years ago was that Europe appeared to be absolutely unprepared, with chaotic actions, devoid of objective analysis and judgment and unable to form common policies."

Mr. Petkov noted that the migratory pressure became tangible (with a fivefold increase over 2012) in 2013 and culminated in 2015 and 2016.

"Then the situation was brought under control. However, since November 2018 again there has been a visible growing pressure which, regrettably, is not a matter of analyses and discussions in European institutions."

In Rumen Petkov's view the analysis of the International Institute for Security and Cooperation has identified the following possible threats in consideration of the compact mass of individuals who profess Islam and the inferior level of their education:

  • A possibility to be infiltrated through the migration influxes of individuals who are associated with terrorist organizations;
  • Polarization of society and feelings that lead to escalation and extremist actions as evident in the political attitudes of quite a number of member countries;
  • The emergence of a new niche for organized crime groups who offer logistic support to migrants in the form of the provision of forged documents, transportation, facilitation of illicit border crossing, trafficking in human beings;
  • Factors that increase crime because of the deficiency of capabilities and opportunities to integrate the immigrants and to provide them with the means to live a normal life;
  • Potential for the radicalization of vulnerable communities in the member states;

Mr. Petkov is convinced that none of the countries can, on its own, address the issue and its long-term consequences.

"What is most alarming is that no one in Europe has analyzed the long-term implications of this phenomenon. As we have recently seen, the issue was again a key point on the agenda of the informal meeting of the Ministers of Home Affairs (informal meeting of the JHA Council) that was held in Bucharest. The insistence on consensus puts in a delicate position the smaller countries with weaker economies. It is more than impressive that Germany moved from ‘Welcome' to ‘Close the borders'. Europe continues to be unready with its solid analysis and one of the grave consequences is that it cannot understand why it is needed to achieve sustainable long-term results and, accordingly, to focus its effort on third countries of origin of illicit emigrants and to create conditions to root out the causes and factors for this exodus."

Rumen Petkov states firmly that key issues in the context of the unprecedented emigration influx and its consequences are not on Europe's agenda yet.

"Were we, the EU and NATO prepared for the consequences when we aided and abetted the Arab Spring? Were the Arab countries to which we exported democracy prepared? We accepted the lie that one of those countries possessed chemical weapons; we declared war on that country; some of our countries suffered casualties and then we admitted in a hushed voice that there had not been any chemical weapons. Did we feel greater democrats? Did we expose the liars? Why don't we disclose the number of the civilian casualties, women and children there? Why don't we release the number of the innocents that we killed? Why is it that every day a war has been fought for decades while none of us talks of peace? Serbia is our neighbor and our host's neighbor. Kosovo is creating an army in defiance to all existing international treaties while we remain silent. In a few days it will be 20 years since the attacks and air raids on Belgrade whereas evidently the problem in Kosovo is deteriorating, etc. These all are problems that we shun and that we are reluctant to analyze and assess and thus the problems arising from military confrontations and the innocent victims continue to escalate. This is one of the major challenges to the International Institute for Security and Cooperation."

The post-Brexit security in Europe was the focus of the report submitted by Dragutin Mate (you can read more here), member of the IISC Managing Board. His report states that presently all options concerning Brexit remain open: the EU could extend the deadline to reach a deal on Brexit or instead push for a new referendum which could, even now, reverse the Brexit altogether. Mr. Mate insists in his report that if the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, this will not affect intelligence-sharing and security collaboration. Defense collaboration will continue through NATO and bilateral defense agreements. However, Dragutin Mate thinks that after Brexit the UK will be facing issues associated with its exclusion from the EU defense research and development.

In his report within the forum Dr. Ely Karmon (you can read more here), member of the IISC General Assembly and Senior Research Scholar at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Policy and Strategy, both at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel notes that most of the favorable factors that make possible the success of the Islamic State are still active (you can read more here). The European terrorist theater between the 9/11 attacks and the Arab uprisings in 2011 in the Middle East is marked by the rise of Al Qaeda as a leading jihadist organization. Since September 11 the direct command of and control on the terrorist attacks in the West by Al Qaeda has been an exception rather than a rule. Al Qaeda has provoked and taken responsibility for attacks most of which were organized by citizens of or residents in the states where they happened. The civil war in Syria activated the jihadist movement. Thus the most recent wave of foreign fighters outnumbered the previous waves and this time the European component was significantly larger. The dramatic increase of the ISIS power till the end of 2014 defied and probably eclipsed Al Qaeda. Yet the post 2014 global jihadism is rather a bipolar movement that is split between two major factions fighting for power and influence. In conclusion Dr. Karmon noted that most of the favorable factors that make possible the success of DAESH still exist. However, now, after a short lull the threat of the resurgence of a big wave of jihadist terrorism depends on the way in which the decline of the caliphate in DAESH will be treated.

Rodolfo Peikov, member of the IISC Consultative Board, stressed the trends in the trafficking in different kinds of drugs globally (you can read more here). The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) World Drug Report 2018 discloses that in 2016 the global opium production was 6383 tons 1300 tons of which were processed into heroin. According to UNODC in 2016 the cocaine production in the Andean countries was approximately 1410 tons. In 2015, with a production of 1125 tons, the seizures of cocaine were reported at 864 tons. In 2016 the seizures of marijuana were 4682 tons while the seizures of hashish in 2016 were 1631 tons compared with 1538 tons in 2015. In 2016 worldwide seizures of Amphetamine-Type Stimulants (ATS) were 232 tons compared with 185 in 2015. The 2016 seizures of ECSTASY were 13,963 kilograms compared with 10,191 kilograms in 2015. "Club Drugs" or "Predatory Drugs" are terms used to identify drugs that can be used to facilitate sexual assault. In the late 1990s, law enforcement noticed a new, disturbing trend of rape cases that involved the drugging of victims with chemicals such as rohypnol, GHB, and ketamine. New danger are the New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) that have changed the nature of the global drugs market. Substances that are not under international control, but mimic the effects of controlled substances, are now widely available, Rodolfo Peikov's report finds.

On March 18, 2015, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a nationwide alert about the dangers of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues/compounds. Fentanyl is commonly laced in heroin, causing significant problems across the country, particularly as heroin abuse has increased. Fentanyl is known with street names such as: Apache, China Girl, China Town, Dance Fever, Friend, Goodfellas, Great Bear, He-Man, Jackpot, King Ivory, Murder 8, Tango & Cash. Fentanyl, with an analgesic potency of about 80 times that of morphine, was introduced into medical practice in the 1960s as an intravenous anesthetic under the trade name of Sublimaze®. Thereafter; two other fentanyl analogues were introduced; alfentanil (Alfenta®), an ultra-short (5-10 minutes) acting analgesic, and sufentanil (Sufenta®), an exceptionally potent analgesic (5 to 10 times more potent than fentanyl) for use in heart surgery. Among the more than 64,000 drug overdose deaths estimated in 2016 in the U.S., the sharpest increase occurred among deaths related to fentanyl and fentanyl analogs (synthetic opioids) with over 20,000 overdose deaths.