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Returning from violence: How to tackle the foreign fighters’ problem in the Western Balkans

Summary Project Description

The project aims to contribute to the understanding of the phenomenon of foreign fighters and the challenge they mean for security and stability. Through a comprehensive approach, communication with the public can be depurated from negative prejudices while it can contribute to better policy solutions. Conflicts in Syria and Iraq as well as in Ukraine cause serious problems for both the V4 and the EU, and the Western Balkan countries.

The project will facilitate the analyses of the phenomenon and the policy solutions of the countries in concern which will allow the exploration of gap between problems and solutions as well as opportunities for cooperation. The latter is of utmost importance in the Western Balkans where confidence building among governments is still a challenge.

Furthermore, the project will provide an great forum for experts from both the Visegrad and Western Balkan countries to exchange their views and experience on this topic.

Importance of the Project

Foreign fighters from the Western Balkan countries are involved in different conflicts from Syria to Ukraine. The sources of motivation vary significantly and thus, stopping recruitment poses great challenge for the governments.  Increasing number of terrorist attacks organized by Islamic State in EU and NATO member states and the growing number of actions against state institutions in which former fighters were involved further increased concerns related to foreign fighters and returnees. Both local and international factors (including poverty, weak state institutions, and international crime networks) facilitate this phenomena and accordingly, a comprehensive approach for building strategies at national and international level is necessary.

Target Group

International relations and security community participants and broader public: university students and graduates, professors, government officials, experts, policy professionals, think tanks, universities, media, private sector executives. These constituencies would be drawn from:

- V4 countries
- Official community: those practitioners interested in the V4’s inputs on breaking security issues
- Policy makers, analysts, media representatives and experts worldwide


The project is coordinated by the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade. The core partners of the initiative are Warsaw Institute for Strategic Studies, Slovak Foreign Policy Association and the EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy. Furthermore, experts and researchers will be invited to the project to contribute to the expert exchange and the book that will be published as part of the project.

Project coordinator: Anna Orosz

The project is funded by the International Visegrad Fund Standard Grant.

More information about the project will be available soon.