Arta Haxhixhemajli, a senior researcher at the Octopus Institute, in an interview with Geopost, said that the growth of the extreme right in Europe has serious consequences for global security, and that one of the key aspects of the spread of the extreme right is its connection with Russia, which uses a “soft power” strategy for promotion of their interests.
Haxhixhemajli emphasizes that significant propaganda and narratives coming from Russia are particularly noticeable in the Balkans, and are spreading through various organizations, funds and social media, including the “Telegram” platform.
Geopost: How do you comment on the extreme right in Europe?
First of all, thanks for the interview, regarding the extreme right that is spreading in Europe, I comment on it as a negative phenomenon that has very big consequences for worldwide security. When we talk about the extreme right, it is a comprehensive topic, we have very big influences, as in the development of propaganda, different narratives which aim to spread negative phenomena. The extreme right cannot be based only on Russia, we also have other countries that influence, but taking into account the recent war in Ukraine, then we have more material, publications, various studies that show that the growth of the extreme right is also happening in other European countries, including European countries such as France, Spain, Germany, we also have it in our region, the Balkans.
Geopost: How does Russia and its cooperation with the extreme right affect Europe?
Russia in its foreign policy uses this as we say soft power, soft power happens through different narratives that Russia uses for its favors, if we take the Balkans for example, we have quite a lot of arrogance and narratives that come from Russia. The possibilities of how Russia carries out this propaganda depends, it can be through different organizations, it can be through funds, but it can also be in some actions which are social media, it means where we have a lot of posts or even misuse of the social network for communication, “Telegram”.
It is one of the platforms that is being used more, not only in the Balkans but also in other countries where we have the spread of the extreme right with influence from Russia.
Geopost: How dangerous is this for Kosovo and how do you see the geopolitical situation after the Russian invasion in Ukraine and how much is Kosovo endangered by all this?
Even during the conference that we held as an institute, we came to the conclusion that we have many different figures who are related to Russia and the extreme right. Part of the research is also about Jacques Hogard, where we mentioned that he had experience and continues to have an influence on Russian and also pro-Serbian propaganda. This represents a very big danger for the Balkans, especially for Kosovo, because the narratives being used by Russia and the countries and personalities that support Russian propaganda are causing damage to the reputation and are causing unrest in Kosovo. For this reason, it is very important to take measures, but also to identify outstanding personalities from their own countries, because it does not mean that all of them are from the Balkans, we have the case that I mentioned of Jacques Hogard, who is from France, in which we have seen publications, articles that have a great impact on the spread of this narrative, but we also have other extremists who are younger and are spreading it in other European countries.
Geopost: How to fight the phenomenon of the doctrine of the extreme right?
This question is very important and it is a problem for all countries, not only for Kosovo and the Balkans, but for my personal opinion but also that of the institute, we have made some recommendations that we have also published in the report, I think it is very important to defeat online radicalism. If we talk about social networks, to identify what language is being used and based on the identification, prevention is also done, the other is the cooperation of the states in receiving and exchanging information, for example of intelligent services, with the greatest possible accumulation of information, to know if there are attempts for different groups for cases that can cause riots, as we have seen happening.
Another recommendation that is worth mentioning is the role of the government, it means taking much more credible and effective measures against the propaganda narratives of different countries, it means identifying what influence it has and cooperating with other organizations, including institutes to achieve and prevent it.
These are some recommendations that I think should be developed further, but they are a basis for prevention since it is a problem not only for Kosovo as I mentioned, but also for other countries. /Geopost/