Western Balkans: Emerging Cyber Threats – Cybersecurity Ecosystem Report

Regional cybersecurity stakeholders do not regard the Western Balkans as primary target of any particular threat actor. Instead, attacks and incidents are perceived as collateral damage of attacks aimed at other primary targets. Additionally, stakeholders have not identified any region-specific malicious actors, or cybersecurity developments however, this does not discount the possibility of a more regional dimension to cyber threats emerging in the near future, given the pace of digitalisation and geopolitical developments.

These are some of the main findings of the Cybersecurity Ecosystem Report, which maps cyber threats in the Western Balkans, identifying key risks, threats, incident and attack types, and, where possible, threat actors. Commissioned by the UK Government, the Report has been prepared jointly by PwC, focusing on the global and regional threat landscape, and the ISAC Fund, providing the geopolitical context for each of the Western Balkan economies (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia).

The Report shows that the cybersecurity threats faced by Western Balkan economies generally mirror global threats. Ongoing increases in digital activity, accelerated by the global pandemic, have led to greater numbers of incident reports received by national authorities. Increasingly, smaller actors such as small and medium enterprises, media actors and civil society organisations are also encountering cyber threats. Attacks are becoming more sophisticated, with better tailoring of malicious content to local languages and context. Currently, cyber-crime is seen as the main threat, with malware, phishing, ransomware and, to an extent, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) as the most common attack types.

The Report also provides recommendations on the actions to be taken with a view to fostering greater cyber resilience in the Western Balkans.




Vulnerability Index – Serbia

ISAC is pleased to announce the publication of the Vulnerability Index – Serbia, which is part of the The GLOBSEC Vulnerability Index, a joint project with GLOBSEC and our partners in the Western Balkans and Central Europe. ISAC participated in extensive research on state resilience and society vulnerability to malign foreign influences from autocratic regimes.

Vulnerability Index measures vulnerability towards foreign influence in eight countries: Bulgaria, Czechia, Hungary, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia and Serbia on a 0-100 scale, where 0 is the most resilient and 100 the most vulnerable.

It assesses five key dimensions: public attitudes, political landscape, public administration, information landscape, and civic and academic space, with a particular focus directed towards the Kremlin’s and Beijing’s activities.

An analysis of Serbia’s alignment with the European Union’s foreign policy declarations and measures in 2020

ISAC presents an Analysis of Serbia’s alignment with the EU’s foreign policy declarations and measures in 2020. This is the seventh annual report that offers a brief overview of the EU’s foreign policy declarations during 2020 and tabulation of Serbia’s compliance with each of them. The analysis gives an explanation of such foreign policy of Serbia within Chapter 31, as well as the comparative overview of other state’s alignment during 2020.

Seven Years of Serbia’s Alignment with the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU

We are proud to present you the Analysis Seven Years of Serbia’s Alignment with the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU!

This study thoroughly monitors Serbia’s harmonization with the EU’s foreign policy declarations and measures during the last seven years, i.e from the moment the negotiation process was initiated. Reference is made to the topics of declarations that Serbia failed to align with, giving detailed analyses of their contents and possible reasons behind this approach.

The analysis brings together a list of declarations published on the official internet portal of the Council of the European Union in the period from January 1, 2014 to November 30, 2020.

Analysis of the NCEU Working Group for Chapter 35 now available in Serbian, English and Albanian language

Working Group of the National Convention on the European Union for Chapter 35 has recently prepared two analysis on the issues relevant to the process of normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina and Chapter 35, as part of its research activities.

Analysis are available in Serbian, English and Albanian language (please find below the links):

  1. “Serbian cultural and religious heritage in Kosovo: from Ahtisaari’s special zones to the final status”, written by Igor Novaković, PhD (ISAC Fund) and Stefan Surlić (Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of the Balkans, Faculty of Political Science, University of Belgrade).


2. “Position and role of religious communities and churches in the reconciliation and normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina”. The authors            are Aleksandra Popovic (Konrad Adenauer Foundation) and Jelena Jorgacevic Kisic (Forum on Religion, Media and Culture of Remembrance).


Analysis were developed within the project “National Convention on the European Union 2019/2020, Working Group for Chapter 35″ funded by the Open Society Foundation, Serbia and implemented by InTER.

An analysis of Serbia’s alignment with the European Union’s foreign policy declarations and measures in 2019

ISAC presents its sixth yearly analysis of Serbia’s compliance with EU foreign policy declarations and measures in 2019. This analysis offers a brief overview of all EU Foreign Policy Declarations during 2019 and tabulation of Serbia’s alignment with them. The analysis offers a substantive explanation of such foreign policy of Serbia within Chapter 31, as well as the comparative overview of other state’s alignment during 2019.

Post “zero problems with neighbours” in the Western Balkans, a view from Serbia

At the begging of this decade Turkish foreign policy was grounded in the idea of “zero problems with neighbours”, a proactive policy that should have renewed Turkey’s position at the centre of the wider region. In the Balkans, this proactiveness has largely dissipated at the beginning of the century and is now barely visible. Bearing in mind that Turkey is one of the most important countries for the region, this paper tries to provide a summary of relevant issues regarding Turkey’s position in the Western Balkans.

An analysis of Serbia’s alignment with the European Union’s foreign policy declarations and measures in 2018

ISAC presents its fifth yearly analysis of Serbia’s compliance with EU foreign policy declarations and measures in 2018. This analysis offers a brief overview of all EU Foreign Policy Declarations during 2018, tabulation of Serbia’s alignment with them. The analysis contains a short explanation of such foreign policy within Chapter 31, as well as the analysis of other state’s alignment in the first part of 2018.

Collection of analyses and policy papers of members of the ISAC’s alumni network

ISAC is happy to present the publication “Collection of analyzes and policy papers of members of the ISAC’s alumni network” that contains eight policy papers made by the ISAC alumni on the following topics:

  • Kosovo and visa liberalization
  • Republic of Serbia and Chamber of Secrets: Necessity of technological and legislative preparation in Serbia for harmonization with European Union standards for data protection
  • Kosovo referendum – Do we want to join the EU?
  • Ten years later – What (does) bring a new National Security Strategy?
  • Personal data protection on social networks
  • European Union and cyber security
  • Amendments to the Law on Genetically Modified Products in the context of Serbia’s accession to the World Trade Organization and harmonization with European legislation
  • Establishment of the National Network for Raising Consciousness about Radicalization in the Republic of Serbia

Since its foundation, an important part of ISAC’s activities has been directed towards education and empowerment of current and future young leaders in building their academic and professional careers. The “Young Leaders” program is one of the activities through which we provide the opportunity for young people to develop not only critical thinking, but also to acquire practical skills in writing analysis and policy papers. ISAC provided professional guidance, while the participants offered fresh and creative ideas for solving some of the current social and political challenges. All participants independently decided on a specific issue that would be dealt with within the subject, the angle of access and the number of final recommendations.

Available only in Serbian language.

From Online Battlefield to Loss of Trust?

Since we live in the information age and internet access equals access to information, the boundaries between the “online” and “offline” world have blurred and this is especially the case for young people. “From Online Battlefield to Loss of Trust?” sheds further light on young people’s consumption of information and disinformation. The report is based on research conducted among 18-24-year-old in eight European countries. Focus groups were made in Central and South-Eastern Europe, and the report seeks to understand the complexity of life and thinking of today’s youth and its impact on the political and social reality of the aforementioned societies. ISAC was pleased to contribute with field research and focus groups in Serbia for this analysis.

Harmonization of the Serbian regulatory system regarding the issue of genetically modified organisms with the legal framework of the European Union

Membership in the World Trade Organization is a precondition for the successful closing of Serbia’s pre-accession negotiations in Chapter 30 (External Relations) with the European Union. Although this Chapter does not explicitly deal with genetically modified organisms, international trade rules do not allow general traffic barriers, such as those that Serbia introduced in 2009 with the Law on Genetically Modified Organisms.

Therefore, our intention with this publication is to present the possibilities offered by international standards for Serbia to fulfill the conditions of accession with both the World Trade Organization and the European Union, while at the same time to respond to the dilemmas that the citizens of our country have. These international standards allow Serbia to establish a system that would abolish the general ban on trade in these products. At the same time it would also establish, in a politically wise manner, an adequate restrictive system that would offer the maximum limit of trade with products containing genetically modified organisms at all levels and enable Serbia to ban the commercial cultivation of genetically modified crops in the same way as the EU member states do.

Only Serbian version available

Analysis of National Capacities for Contribution to Peace Support Operations

The main goal of this in depth research analysis is to contribute to the creation of legislative framework in order for Serbia to send its civilian experts in peace support operations.  This document offers a comparative legal analyses of the legal frameworks for sending civilians in peace support operations of six European countries: Estonia, Croatia, Slovenia,Czech Republic, Lithuania and Germany. It also provides a short overview and clarification of what the civilian missions are and how they have evolved over time.

From the Global Strategy for EU Foreign and Security Policy to CSDP with the Capital O

ISAC presents an analysis dedicated to the CSDP and the latest developments in that field. An analysis titled “From the Global Strategy for EU Foreign and Security Policy to the CSDP with the Capital  O” provides a brief overview of the CSDP starting with the meeting of European Council held in December 2013 when the process of revision of the EU’s foreign policy and security framework officially commenced until November 2017 when Permanent Structural Cooperation was formally launched.

Why is the World Trade Organization Important for the EU and World Trade in General

The main topic of this analysis is the relationship between the World Trade Organization and the European Union. A special emphasis is put on the nature of international trade today and the reasons why the WTO is necessary for its regulation. It also points out why the EU insists that all its members be simultaneously members of the WTO.

Why Serbia Should Enter the WTO

The main goal of this analysis is to point out the importance of the World Trade Organization for smaller countries as well as to present the basic motives for which any country, including Serbia, should strive for membership in this organization.


Serbian-Romanian Relations and the Status of the Vlach Minority in Serbia

The study is the end result of a research project supported by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Serbia. The aim of the research and the study itself was examining all relevant aspects of the bilateral relations between Serbia and Romania concerning the position and status of the Vlach minority in Serbia. It also aims to promote and further deepen the Serbian-Romanian relations and partnership on Serbia’s path towards the European Union.

Analysis of Serbia’s alignment with foreign policy declarations, positions and measures of the EU in 2014

The Working Group on Chapters 30 and 31 of the National Convention, coordinated by ISAC Fund, presents its first annual analysis of Serbia’s alignment with declarations, positions and measures adopted under the framework of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy. The analysis provides a critical review of the process of alignment, while providing a number of recommendations for the Government of Serbia and its negotiating team. The analysis is only available in Serbian.

The compendium of policy papers

The compendium consists of five policy papers that are the result of the project “Young Leaders Training”. Participants of the program worked in groups on the proposals and they chose specific questions within the topics, angle of approach and the number and content of the recommendations.

Introduction to Serbia’s Negotiations with the EU on Chapter 30 – External Relations

The purpose of this study is precisely to provide the first information about the content of negotiations in the Chapter 30, and provide the basis for the beginning of the public debate on these issues. The main challenges and dilemmas that await us as a country during the negotiations are presented in a concise manner. The publication is also the first product of the partnership and collaboration of the International and Security Affairs Centre (ISAC) and the European Policy Centre (CEP), regarding the support and following of the negotiations in the Chapter 30 in the subsequent period

Bulgarians in Serbia and Serbian-Bulgarian Relations in the Light of Serbia’s European Integration

The EU integration process is often burdened with complicated bilateral and cross-border issues between candidates and neighbouring EU member states. These issues could endanger the efficiency of the process of negotiations, thus stall the progress and contribute to the prolonged instability in the region. During 2013, in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Belgrade, the research team of the ISAC Fund completed a field research in Bosilegrad and Dimitrovgrad, two municipalities in South Eastern Serbia predominantly populated by the ethnic Bulgarians, as well as in Belgrade and Sofia. Through series of interviews with various stakeholders and in-house research results, ISAC has formulated conclusions and policy recommendations for all of the involved stakeholders.

The version in Bulgarian language is available here.

From Four Pillars of Foreign Policy to European Integration: Is There a Will for Strategically Orienting Serbia’s Foreign Policy?

With the support of the European Fund for the Balkans, through the Think and Link programme, ISAC Fund has undertaken an public opinion poll about the foreign policy of the Republic of Serbia, along with the publishing of its policy study From Four Pillars of Foreign Policy to European Integration: Is There a Will for Strategically Orienting Serbia’s Foreign Policy?. The goal of this research was to find out to which extent the results of the poll correspond with the findings of the above mentioned policy study, but also to find out how citizens perceive foreign policy domain.

Neutrality in the XXI century – Lessons for Serbia

Excerpt from the review of Prof. Dr. Predrag Simic:
Compendium “Neutrality in the XXI century – Lessons for Serbia” is the most ambitious attempt so far in Serbia to comprehensively and in-depth address the issue of neutrality in contemporary international relations, the question which is, in Serbia as well as in many other countries, a subject to scientific and political debates and conflicting interpretations. What characterized this project is a good selection of topics, a fine structure of the compendium and the expertise of authors. All of those contributed so that the readers of the book gets familiar with experiences and contemporary views of the old and the new neutral countries, but also with the main issues raised by the debates about neutrality which are now taking place and also the importance, or rather, unimportance, of neutrality in contemporary circumstances. Thus, the compilers of this compendium offered answers to many questions which are also relevant for Serbia. It can therefore be concluded that this compendium will be able to offer to the Serbian scientific and political public the answers to many questions that were the subject of a broad debate about its political and strategic decisions in the recent years.

Serbia and Hungary – Political and Economic Perspectives

There are numerous discussions and publications regarding Serbian-Hungarian relations, however these are often limited to common history and culture. Present issues, challenges and opportunities often remain out of the focus of the public and the elite in the two countries. Having this in mind, the International and Security Affairs Centre (ISAC fund) and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Serbia, decided to concentrate on current topics such as bilateral relations, European integration, economy, trade, cross border cooperation, as well as the issue of national minorities, and to provide a fresh look on Serbian-Hungarian relations. The result is the newest ISAC’s policy study titled Serbia and Hungary – Political and Economic Perspectives. The study itself is based on ISAC Fund’s in-house research as well as on information gathered at the conference Serbian-Hungarian Relations – A Way Forward (Belgrade, June 18, 2012) organized by ISAC and Friedrich Ebert Foundation .

From Four Pillars of Foreign Policy to European Integration: Is There a Will for Strategically Orienting Serbia’s Foreign Policy?

With the support of the European Fund for the Balkans, ISAC Fund’s research team presents its most recent policy study titled FROM FOUR PILLARS OF FOREIGN POLICY TO EUROPEAN INTEGRATION: IS THERE A WILL FOR STRATEGICALLY ORIENTING SERBIA’S FOREIGN POLICY?
This study examines the problems of Serbia’s foreign policy from 2008–2012, as evaluated on three points: its lack of long-term strategy; the malfunctioning of its system of decision-making and supervision; and the problems of its process of harmonization with the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy. The main purpose of this study is to offer a set of recommendations for reforming the approach to these questions, derived from an in-depth examination of the mentioned foreign policy aspects with the aim of bolstering the nation’s political standing abroad.

Neutrality in Europe in the 21st century and the Case of Serbia

The topic of this analysis is the development and the dynamic change of the concept of neutral state in international relations since the XIX century. The text also presents the cases of few European states that are commonly accepted as being permanently neutral, or which strive to be accepted as such. Based on both theoretical standpoints and practical cases, the author has outlined the conditions that one state needs to meet in order to be internationally accepted as permanently neutral in post- Cold war era. Finally, the author compares these conclusions with the case of Serbia’s self-proclaimed status of neutrality.

Using Candidacy to Entice Further Reform

This paper looks at why Serbia should receive Candidacy Status for European Union membership in light of the European Council decision taken in December 2011. It argues that Serbia can achieve much more vis-à-vis reforms and the adoption of the acquis if its European path is kept open and steadily encouraged, in this case via Candidacy Status. The paper also considers the effects of Kosovo in the overall European integration process of Serbia and how further integration can assist in finding an acceptable solution for both sides.

Turkey in the Western Balkans: The Means and Goals of the New Foreign Policy

Although Turkey sees itself increasingly as an emerging power in international relations, it leads the policy that is in line with NATO stability priorities in the Western Balkans. Many countries in the region continue to accept the independent initiative of Turkey, which represents an opportunity for Turkey to use this influence as a subject for negotiations with the EU.
Based on the conclusions of the conference “New Turkish Foreign Policy in the Western Balkans” held in April 2011, and independent research, ISAC is publishing the policy paper “Turkey in the Western Balkans: The Means and Goals of the New Foreign Policy.” The document contains overall analysis of the new Turkish approach to the region, and a set of policy recommendations in relation to the same topic for Serbia and other Western Balkan states.

Serbia and Albania – Preparing for a New Start

With the support of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (Tirana and Belgrade office), ISAC Fund has organised two workshops under the Chatham House Rule on the topic of Serbian-Albanian relations. Participants included experts, representatives of the civil society and political elites from both Serbia and Albania. The conclusions from these workshops, together with the results of ISAC’s in-house research.
The goal of this policy paper was to identify all the obstacles (not directly connected to the issue of Kosovo) that obstruct further improvement of relations between the two countries, and to give the practical policy proposals to the elites of both countries on how to remove or, at least, reduce their influence.

CEFTA 2006 – Challenges and Opportunities

This Collection of Essays intends to provide a thorough overview of the challenges and benefits for Serbia and the region within CEFTA 2006. As CEFTA 2006 is the second most significant trade market for Serbia, this publication intends to raise awareness on the importance of developing more proactive and broader regional initiatives.

Turkey`s New Approach to the Western Balkans

Turkey is presently among the most active external political actors in the Western Balkans. Yet the perception of its new activism in this part of south-east Europe is often emotional and seldom pragmatic. As such, this paper attempts to provide a non-exhaustive overview of the various aspects of this new Turkish approach to the region. It also aims to provide a sober, facts-based assessment, which can serve as a starting point for an informed discussion on Turkey`s new role in the Western Balkans.


This Paper represents an effort of the ISAC Fund to address another sensitive topic of regional cooperation. It strives to show that there are numerous issues in bilateral relations between Serbia and Albania which should not wait for the Kosovo issue to be finally settled.


ISAC Fund’s team prepared this document in cooperation with the Law OfficeNikolić-Kokanović-Otašević from Belgrade. The aim of the analysis was to review the entire Oil and Gas Arrangement, from the standpoint of the legal regulations of the Republic of Serbia and the international treaties that bind Serbia, as well as to identify potential problems in this area of Serbian economy that may arise during the implementation of this Agreement.

The analyses led to several conclusions. The Arrangement itself is without precedent in the recent practice of entering into international agreements in Serbia. A number of issues that were mentioned in the Arrangement have no binding characteristics. Some of the provisions are in the apparent contradiction with Serbian legislation, as well as with the international treaties where Serbia is one of the parties.

Document in Serbian
Abstract and conclusions of the analysis in English

Russian Vision of European Security and Serbia

Žarko Petrović
Research Director, International and Security Affairs Centre, ISAC Fund

Serbia started to formulate balanced policy regarding the Initiative of the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for adopting the New European Security Treaty. Serbia should continue with this policy, because a country wishing to become a EU candidate country cannot conduct independent policy regarding such an important issue as international security. Besides, this initiative is primarily directed towards increasing Russian security. Serbia should follow the EU policy regarding this Initiative.

By following the EU policy Serbia would thereby prove to the “enlargement sceptics” in the EU countries that it is, in fact, not a “Russian proxy” in the Balkans.

Russia and the Western Balkans

In this study Dušan Reljić, Senior Researcher at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in Berlin, analyzes the processes which conditioned the reinvigoration of Russia’s political and economic influence in this part of Southeast Europe. The conclusion is, above all, that following years of Russia’s declining influence, and the increase in US domination, the conflict over Kosovo re-opened the space for Russia’s return into the Western Balkans. In this conflict, Belgrade is dependent on Moscow’s support.

Also, the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline ties, in the long term, the energy security of South East Europe to Russian supplies.
The European Union, in spite of the fact that all countries in the region see their political future in accession thereto, will in future have to take into account not only the will of the United States of America, but also the influence of Russia in the Western Balkans.