500+ participants / 80+ speakers / 20+ panels


The Western Balkans: Cyber Diplomacy for Cybersecurity 

October 13, 2023 by BSC


This panel discussed what cybersecurity is and explored strategies for building the necessary capabilities to bolster cybersecurity in the Western Balkans, as well as to define the new and emerging terms of cyber diplomacy and cyber security. 



Karsten Diethelm Geier, Senior Advisor for Cyber Diplomacy, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, started the panel with an explanation of a cyber diplomacy concept: “It is an area of international relations dealing with pivotal areas of electronic communications”, he stated. Answering the question if it would be easier for the countries of the Western Balkan to have one framework that aligns them with the EU framework, he explained that the future of the WB countries was in the EU’s hands and that cyber regulations needed to align to EU regulations, structures and institutions. He explained the necessity of a country having cyber security architecture but also informing others of the way it is used, to ensure a system of stability and predictability. 



Irina Rizmal, Manager, PwC’s CEE Cybersecurity & Privacy practice, stressed how important cyber diplomacy was in the 21st century. She stated that it could help alleviate and stop the conflicts. Rizmal talked about cybersecurity in the WB and emphasized that the pinpoint and the problem is implementation. Serbia has put a draft law on information security but “everything looks good on paper, what we lack is implementation”, said Irina.  She claimed, however, that even if we had the most expensive cyber solution, it is to no avail if the management does not perceive cybersecurity as something of great importance. 



Vladimir Radunović, Director of Cybersecurity and E-diplomacy, Diplo, explained that most of the cyber incidents were cross border – it is a mix of technology, legal and political aspects, therefore there needs to be a “whole of the state – whole of society” approach. Radunović added that international law was still unclear on whether a cyber-attack could trigger a defense, lethal response of an individual state. The problem that he sees is the absence of a political discussion on cybersecurity in the Western Balkan. He agreed with Irina Rizmal that implementation is even more demanding than planning. He explained that the Western Balkan countries could sign the OSCE Confidence Building Measures, the EU’s toolbox for cybersecurity, or accept UN norms dealing with the subject, but the biggest obstacle is implementing them effectively. 



The moderator, Amer Kapetanović, Head of the Political Department, Regional Cooperation Council, added that the normative framework for cyber diplomacy should not only include developed countries in this discussion but that no country should be left behind.