New Publication | City Consultations: Slovakia – Challenges, Needs and Priorities of Bratislava and Žilina

Strong Cities conducted a threats and opportunities mapping exercise to inform future Network engagement in Slovakia and the wider region.

In partnership with Partners for Democratic Change Slovakia, and made possible with funding from the US Embassy in Bratislava, the Strong Cities Network Central Management Unit conducted a mapping exercise of the threat landscape and the P/CVE needs and priorities of cities in the Slovak Republic. The exercise was conducted through interviews and consultations with the municipal governments of Bratislava and Žilina, and representatives from national government, including NAKA (the national crime agency), the Ministry of Interior’s Crime Prevention Department, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and representatives from Civil Society Organisations.

Key themes that emerged from the exercise included the role of cities in safeguarding local communities and local democracy against the dynamic threats posed by extremism, hate and disinformation and wider anti-government agitation. Compounding these challenges, cities in the region are additionally confronted with the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, most notably with the responsibility to support and integrate Ukrainian refugees, which will likely be exploited as a wedge issue for extremist actors in the region.


Key Findings & Recommendations

Read some of the key findings and recommendations from the report below:

  • Hate towards Ukrainian refugees, fuelled by disinformation campaigns and the proliferation of conspiracy theories across social media, is among the top developing risks across Slovakia.
  • In addition to mounting concern for refugees, key target groups of hate and extremism are Roma, the LGBTQI+ community and other minority communities. This includes members of the Jewish community, who are targets of rising anti-Semitism.
  • There is limited practical coordination between national and local authorities on either the nature of the threat or how to address it.
  • Communities’ trust in local government and even municipal police forces is comparatively higher than trust in national government, state police and mainstream media.

Recommendations 

  • International partners, including SCN, have a role to play in facilitating an operational national-local coordination mechanism.
  • Slovak cities need to be engaged in regional and global conversations about safeguarding local democracy from the hybrid threats of extremism, disinformation, hate and wider anti-government agitation.
  • Municipalities have a critical role to play in filling the gap between national government-focused efforts on countering disinformation and limited community policing efforts on prevention

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