Over sixty global experts and professionals explored and debated the rising trend of far-right extremism in Eastern Europe and the Balkan region.
Far-right extremism and radicalisation is a growing threat, with mutating trends and specificities. This fact brings subsequent implications for the prison, probation and community settings. Sharing knowledge on these changes and tendencies among practitioners and experts is vital to developing radicalisation prevention and countering efforts.
That is why HOPE’s Transnational Thematic Workshops brought together renowned researchers and professionals who presented troubling scenarios across Eastern Europe and the Balkan region.
Far-right is broadening its spectrum and entering the “normal”
Professor Miroslav Mareš, an expert in Political Sciences from Czech Republic’s Masaryk University, warns of the normalisation of far-right rhetoric in Eastern Europe through its growing representation in higher politics.
Between practical examples of far-right extremism cases in Eastern Europe, the renowned professor and expert also emphasised the “new face” of far-right extremism. Now associated with the stand against COVID-19 restrictions and measures, the movement’s agenda was refreshed and reached new audiences.
Speaking of the Bulgarian reality, Mois Faion, chairman of the Bulgarian Association for Policy Evaluation (BAPE) and expert on Policy Evaluation and Security, also highlighted the dangers of the normalisation of far-right rhetoric in the country. These local extremist views have a particular focus and impact on the Bulgarian Roma community.
Mois Faion presented worrisome data that emphasises how the majority of the Bulgarian population share anti-Roma and anti-migrant attitudes. A considerable fraction (8-14%) even agrees with violent acts over social minorities.
The role of inter-agency cooperation in radicalisation prevention
Focusing on the implications of the data presented and discussed for criminal justice, Nadya Stoynova, specialist in prison and probation radicalisation, stressed the importance of, sustained risk assessment and intervention approaches. This BAPE representative underlines that a trustworthy and functional evaluation must comprise data from a continuous effort between prison and probation settings, reinforcing the relevance of inter-agency cooperation.
Nadya Stoynova from the Bulgarian Association for Policy Evaluation, provided a thorough overview of the risks of radicalisation in prison and probation in the Bulgarian reality, focusing on its trends, problems and potentialities.
This workshop was also an opportunity to debate entertainment as a booster for far-right extremism, its risks and intervention potentialities, with a particular focus on the community setting. In this debate, participants also highlighted the critical role community stakeholders have in facilitating the disengagement of far-right extremism. The discussion led to sharing of some known good practices from NGOs to promote a sustained prison-community continuum.
HOPE’s workshop “The far-right in Eastern Europe and the Balkans: Scope of the threat and implications for prison and probation” took place on February 4th, 2022. This event was the third of the Transnational Thematic Workshops (TTW) targeting the Balkan countries enrolled in the project’s consortium, namely Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria and Slovenia. These TTWs approach topics in the project’s field, exploring theoretical and practical content. They are the materialisation of the HOPE project’s network, which strives to support continuous training, sharing of information and experience on P/CVE.
The HOPE Initiative is led by IPS_Innovative Prison Systems (Portugal) in partnership with the University College of Norwegian Correctional Service (Norway), Agenfor International Foundation (Italy), the Euro-Arab Foundation for Advanced Studies (Spain), the Bulgarian Association for Policy Evaluation, the Bulgarian General Directorate “Execution of Sentences”, the Bucharest-Jilava Penitentiary (Romania), the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights (Serbia) and the Slovenian Probation Administration (Ministry of Justice). The project is partially funded by the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation.
For more information about the HOPE project, please visit its website.