SOA: Security situation stable, terrorist attacks indicate more complex situation

The Security-Intelligence Agency (SOA) on Sunday released on its web site a public report on its activities in 2015 in which it says that the security situation in Croatia in the past period was stable but that terrorist attacks in Europe indicate an increasingly complex security situation in Croatia's neighbourhood.

SOA says that both the left and the right extremist scene in Croatia are small and poorly organised and do not have any significant potential to threaten security, but that consequences of war trauma and unresolved inter-ethnic relations may facilitate an increase in extremism.

It adds that expressions of Greater Serbian and Chetnik extremism have been noticed in Croatia, notably among young people, but that this poses a limited threat because of lack of organisation and small numbers.

As for other countries' intelligence interest in Croatia, the report notes that it refers to the collection of information about the security and political situation in the country and outstanding issues in mutual relations, as well as to information on Croatia in the context of its membership of NATO and the EU.

Those countries' intelligence officials act generally as diplomatic staff, SOA says, adding that they also use active measures to influence public opinion by manipulating the domestic media scene for their interests. For example, they try to influence public opinion regarding the role of NATO and the EU in current crisis spots by depicting Croatia's foreign policy and Croatian allies in a negative light, the agency says.

Some foreign services also engage in economic and industrial espionage in Croatia's territory, trying to obtain information on important economic projects and modern technologies. Aside from gathering data, foreign intelligence systems also try to actively influence processes in Croatia, SOA says.

As for the situation in Croatia's neighbourhood, SOA says that it does not pose a direct security threat but that numerous security challenges in the Southeast European neighbourhood spill over to Croatia.

Regardless of the challenges faced by the countries in that area, they are not of the nature that could cause major armed conflicts. However, they may cause unrest and incidents as well as political crises that could jeopardise Croatia's economic, political and security interests or the interests of the Croat people in Southeast European countries, says SOA.

It also notes that the security situation in neighbouring countries is marked by continued activities of Greater Serbian extremist organisations and the appearance of new ones, as well as by historical revisionism.

SOA also notes that in September 2015 Croatia found itself on a route of a migrant wave and that by the end of the year more than 600,000 refugees and migrants passed through the country. Even though there were no major security incidents, it was confirmed that the migrant wave was used also by terrorist organisations to transfer their members to Europe.

SOA also points to the existence of radical Islamist enclaves in neighbouring countries, as well as to jihadists from those countries who go Syria and Iraq to fight on the side of ISIL.

There are for the time being no direct threats to security in Croatia from jihadists in Syria or from returnee fighters, but one cannot rule out the threat posed by so-called lone wolves, says the agency.

A part of the SOA report is dedicated to Croatian national Tomislav Salopek, who was kidnapped in Egypt on 22 July 2015 and is believed to have been killed by his kidnappers. SOA says it continues to work on his case to establish the circumstances of the kidnapping, identify the perpetrators and establish what happened to Salopek.

As for corruption, SOA says that it is a social problem undermining the foundations of the Croatian state. Croatia is crossed by the Balkan smuggling route used by regional criminal groups for their activities and for the recruiting of individuals from the Croatian underworld. Attempts to launder money obtained by organised crime have been identified, it says.

It notes that the most frequent types of corruption in public administration, state institutions and state-owned and public companies are related to tenders.

SOA also says that it has confirmed the involvement of Croatian nationals and persons from neighbouring countries in the smuggling of cocaine from South America to Europe.

As for energy security, SOA says that Croatia can capitalise on its good geopolitical position by improving its own energy security and by transforming into an important energy hub.

As for war crimes, the agency says that it works continually on locating individual and mass grave sites from the period of the Homeland War, gathering information on war crimes as well as on the whereabouts of fugitive war criminals.

SOA notes that in 2015 it submitted around 300 reports to the president of the republic and the government.

Apart from the state leadership, SOA informs of its findings also other bodies such as the parliament, the National Security Council Office, the Chief State Prosecutor's Office, the Ministry of the Interior and other ministries. In 2015, around 10,500 various pieces of security-intelligence information were submitted to those bodies, the agency says.

The agency budget in 2015 totalled around HRK 324 million while in 2016 around 315 million was approved.

Data on SOA employees are confidential but the report notes that women account for 40% of the staff.

The report also calls on young, well-educated and motivated persons to apply to work at SOA.

Last update: Mon, 27/06/2016 - 15:11

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