Working Paper on enabling environments, drivers, and occurrence/nonoccurrence of violent extremism
Based on extensive desk research and fieldwork, the present paper aims to analyze the various drivers of violent extremism (VE) in the contemporary Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, the Republic of North Macedonia, and Serbia) and the elaboration of a refined, nuanced and context-sensitive understanding of the concept of ‘enabling environment’, i.e., the cluster or combination of various factors in a given society that renders the emergence of violent extremism likely. When approaching the varying impact of ideological radicalization and hate speech, we seek to make a distinction between contexts, where radicalization morphs into violence (“occurrence”), and contexts, where it does not (“non-occurrence”). Thus, the paper seeks to provide an analytical explanation of the central question of why some communities tend to be more resilient to violent extremist ideologies than others, despite identical “enabling” conditions. Given the geopolitical significance of the Western Balkan region, an approach that prioritizes non-occurrence of violence may respond more adequately to the strategic need for strengthening resilience to radicalization, extremism and terrorism there.