Skip to content

SEEsummary | November 2018


Issue no. 23 of the SEEsummary, published on 30 November 2018, by SEEDIG, in collaboration with DiploFoundation and the Geneva Internet Platform. This issue covers Internet governance and digital policy developments that occurred in South Eastern Europe and the neighbouring area in November 2018. Also included: a list of upcoming events (December 2018), a look at Internet Governance Forum initiatives which had meetings this month, and an overview of upcoming capacity development opportunities for SEE+ stakeholders. Contributors to this issue: Adela Alexandru, Maja Ćalović, Sasho Dimitrijoski, Desara Dushi, Andrijana Gavrilović, Su Sonia Herring, Olga Kyryliuk, Marko Paloski, Efthymia Papadopoulou, Mirko Savković, Dušan Stojičević, Oliana Sula, Sorina Teleanu. Design by Charalampos Kyritsis.


Developments in November 2018

Telecommunications infrastructure | Copyright | Capacity development | Cybercrime | Cybersecurity | Access | Child safety online | Development – other | Economic – other issues | Critical infrastructure | Privacy and data protection


Telecommunications infrastructure


Overview of broadband costs in SEE+

A study published by the British broadband, TV and price comparison website shows that countries in South Eastern Europe and the neighbouring area (SEE+) are among those with the lowest broadband prices, among a total of 195 countries analysed.The report places Ukraine at the top of the ranking, with the most affordable average broadband package cost per month (USD 5). Broadband Internet in Ukraine is, according to the report, both fast and cheap, but the penetration rates are still low, with only around half of the population actually having Internet access. Russia (rank 4), Belarus (5), Moldova (6) and Romania (10) fall within the top 10 cheapest countries in the world, while top 50 also include Turkey (rank 12), Georgia (20), Serbia (21), Croatia (32), The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (37), Bulgaria (39), Slovenia (41), Albania (44), Montenegro (47) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (49). The study also comes to confirm that in many of the SEE+ countries, broadband is both cheap and very quick. Romania is highlighted as an example of a country which scores among the top 10 countries in the world regarding both broadband speed and broadband prices.

5G strategy open for public consultation in Romania

In the context of an international conference[link] dedicated to 5G, the Romanian National Authority for Management and Administration in Communications (ANCOM) launched a public consultation on the 5G Strategy for Romania. The draft strategy was developed in cooperation with the Ministry of Communications and Information Society and other central and local authorities, and with input from the telecom industry. The document outlines a series of objectives to be met by 2030: the rapid launch of 5G services in several Romanian cities (in 2020); accelerating the benefits of 5G, through ensuring 5G coverage for all urban centres, main transportation routes and industrial parks; stimulating the deployment of 5G networks, through simplified regulations; promoting new uses of 5G technologies and stimulating cooperation. To help achieve these objectives, several priority directions are identified, from adapting current infrastructures to the 5G technology to creating an enabling legislative and regulatory environment and supporting partnerships for testing and validating 5G uses. In 2019, the regulatory authority will make available additional spectrum resources to facilitate investments in the deployment of 5G networks.

Greece consults on ultrafast broadband project

Greece‘s Ministry of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Information launched a public consultation on the country’s Ultrafast Broadband (UFBB) project, with a budget of EUR 300 million. The project involves the development of next-generation broadband infrastructures in areas currently not covered by networks, and thus achieve the broadband targets set by the European Commission for 2025.The initiative aims to increase the availability of electronic communications services in rural and suburban areas that do not have high-speed Internet access, as well as in urban areas that do not have ultra-high-speed Internet access. This can be achieved by developing an extensive fibre optic network as close as possible to the end user to ensure Internet connection speeds of at least 100Mbps.

Croatia warned over delayed roadmap for the release of the 700 MHz band

The European Commission has decided to initiate infringement proceedings (by sending letters of formal notice) against Croatia (as well as the Netherlands) for failing to publish a plan for releasing the 694–790 MHz (‘700 MHz’) band for mobile broadband services by June 2020, as required by the EU Decision 2017/899 on the use of the 470–790 MHz frequency band. The Commission explained that the failure to publish the requested plans by the indicated deadline might delay the development of 5G in Croatia, the Netherlands and surrounding countries. The countries have been warned that they have to act on this in the following two months or the Commission may send reasoned opinions on the matter.

The launch of 4G delayed in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The introduction of 4G networks in Bosnia and Herzegovina has once again been postponed and will likely not happen by the end of 2018. It is reported that the reason for the delay is the refusal of the Ministry of Finance and Treasury to give a favourable opinion on the proposal concerning the granting of spectrum licences, because of a low licencing fee (compared to other European countries). The country’s Communications Regulatory Agency (RAK) announced it was ready to start issuing licences to the existing operators once the government gives its approval.

Macedonian government ready to join the 5G cross-border highway corridor

The government of The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia announced its readiness to join the regional plans dedicated to developing a 5G-enabled cross-border corridor for connected and automated mobility. The initiative was launched in June 2018, by Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia, and it is aimed at developing experimental 5G networks to allow the testing of driverless cars. Skopje’s interest in joining the 5G highway corridor was announced by the Macedonian Minister of Information Society and Administration, Mr Damjan Mancevski, in the context of a meeting with the EU Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, Ms Mariya Gabriel.

5G open field test in Turkey

The Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) in Turkey has overseen a ‘5G open field test’ at the BTK Market Surveillance Laboratory within the Hacettepe University in Ankara. The test, the first of its kind in Turkey, was attended by the local electronic communications industry, including the operators Turk Telekom, Turkcell and Vodafone Turkey. The 5G infrastructure available within the lab can be tested by interested tech companies, electronic communications providers, researchers, students and others.




Romanian court orders blocking of websites over copyright concerns

The Bucharest Court of Appeal issued a decision ordering several Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Romania to block access to three movie websites identified as infringing copyright. The concerned websites –, and (also available at 42 other locations) – were part of a case brought forward by several international film production houses: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Universal City Studios Productions LLP, Universal Cable Productions LLC, Warner Bros Entertainment INC, Paramount Pictures Corporation, Disney Enterprises, Columbia Pictures Industries, and Sony Pictures Television. The court ordered the ISPs – RCS & RDS, Telekom Romania, UPC Romania, Digital Cable Systems, AKTA Telecom, and Nextgen Communication – to permanently block access of their clients to the concerned website, through the DNS blocking measure. The decision is not yet final and can be appealed within 30 days to the Bucharest Court of Appeal. In reaction to the ruling, civil society organisations and technical experts in Romania pointed out that DNS blocking is hardly an effective measure, as it could be circumvented in several ways (such as a simple moving of the websites’ content to another web location).


Capacity development


Promoting media information literacy across the region

Journalists, university lecturers, school teachers, media experts, and civil society activists from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia joined a training of trainers to advance media information literacy (MIL) in Western Balkans, the region described as the ‘most vulnerable to fake news’ in the 2018 Media Literacy Index. The training, which is part of an initiative called ‘Media for Citizens – Citizens for Media’, aims to implement media and information literacy training and projects throughout the region and will publish an online manual in local languages for future MIL trainers to help them prepare MIL workshops and further training activities. The project was carried out by members of the South Eastern European Network for Professionalization of Media (SEENPM), under the leadership of Mediacentar Sarajevo.




Cybercrime a factor of risk for Albania

During his speech at the International Scientific Conference ‘Cybercrime, Cyber Threats and National Security’ organised by the Academy of Security in Albania, the Albanian Minister of Interior, Mr Sander Lleshaj, underlined that during the year 2017 the police identified 3.3 times more cybercrime cases compared to the year 2010. At the same time, the rate of identification of cybercrime is 27% lower compared to other crimes. To deal with these challenges, a  national strategy on cybersecurity should be drafted, the minister noted. He also pointed out that the Academy of Security should be a promoter of cybersecurity awareness raising in Albania, through integrating progressively in its curricula subjects related to IT, programming, digital finance and digital economy.

OSCE provides cybercrime training for Serbian police

The Mission in Serbia of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) launched a series of training courses dedicated to building the capacities of Serbian police in cyber forensics and cybercrime investigation. The course, run in partnership with the Ministry of Interior of Serbia, is a part of the OSCE Mission to Serbia’s project ‘Strengthening Serbian authorities in the fight against organized and transnational crime’, and complementary to the regional OSCE project on ‘Capacity building for criminal justice practitioners combating cybercrime and cyber-enabled crime in South-Eastern Europe’. The training is conducted by experts from the Department for Suppression of Hi-Tech Crime of  Ministry of Interior of Serbia with the support of OSCE experts. The overall aim of the initiative is to establish a national network of 60 cyber forensics investigators.




Cyber-attacks among the top five risks for doing business in Albania and Slovenia

A new report released by the World Economic Forum on Regional risks for doing business looks at risks that the private sector faces in doing business at a regional and national level. The report, which is based on an Executive Opinion Survey conducted among businesses, sheds light to the businesses’ perception of the risks they expect to present a challenge for them in the next ten years. At the European level, cyber-attacks were identified as the main threat to doing business: this risk was ranked number one by 12 European countries. When looking closely at South Eastern Europe and the neighbouring area (SEE+), cyber-attacks were ranked among the main threats in Slovenia (rank 4) and Albania (rank 5). For all other 16 countries from the region, cyber-attacks were not among the top 5 concerns of businesses, which were more worried about issues such as unemployment, fiscal crisis, migration, interstate conflict, and failure of national governance.

Russia and ASEAN to collaborate on cybersecurity

The Russian Federation and the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) issued a joint statement on cooperation in the field of security and use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). The signatories acknowledged the need to elaborate on the norms of responsible behaviour of states in cyberspace already proposed by the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts (UN GGE); the importance of developing a peaceful, secure, and resilient rules-based ICT environment; the need to prevent the use of information resources or technologies for criminal or terrorist purposes; and to narrow the digital divide. ASEAN countries stated they would consider the initiative of the Russian Federation on an ‘ASEAN-Russia Dialogue on ICT security-related issues’.


Child safety online


Albanian stakeholders discuss child safety online

A high-level ‘VIRAL Summit: A better Internet for children and adolescents in Albania’ was organised by UNICEF Albania at the end of November to gather and spread innovative ideas and to contribute to the Government of Albania‘s Action Plan for a better and safer Internet for children. According to data disclosed during this summit, the number of active Internet users in Albania increased to 2 million in 2017 (18% higher as compared to 2016). Considering that there are around 3 million inhabitants in Albania and that the country has a very young population, this means that there is a large number of children as Internet users. The VIRAL Summit brought together global, regional and local experts, government partners, the private sector, civil society, children and parents to explore innovative policy approaches to eliminate online risks and protect children online. Based on some preliminary data of a yet unpublished research conducted by UNICEF Albania, one in three children access the Internet without the knowledge of their parents. They spend on average three hours a day on the Internet, using it mainly for social media and 14% of the children have experienced something online that has disturbed them.




Free Internet for youth centres in Montenegro

In Montenegro, Telenor Foundation, the Union of High School Students and the Ministry of Sports signed a cooperation agreement on the implementation of the Internet for youth in youth clubs and centres project. The initiative will involve the provision of free Internet access within youth clubs and centres across the country and is aligned with the overall objectives of the Montenegrin government to improve Internet accessibility among youth. Youth centres and youth clubs are considered as key actors in increasing youth participation in the social and economic development of the county. Free Internet access will be provided with the financial support of the Telenor Foundation.

Regulatory authorities in four SEE+ countries enhance regional cooperation

On 7 November, in Belgrade, national regulatory authorities in the field of electronic communications from Bosnia and Herzegovina, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia held a joint meeting to discuss issues of regional cooperation. The topics discussed included regulated regional roaming prices, international termination rates for calls in mobile and fixed electronic communication networks, and regional coordination in the management of the radiofrequency spectrum. The meeting was attended by the heads of all four regulatory authorities, together with their expert groups, and will be followed up by new discussions, especially in the area of roaming charges. Within the framework of the meeting, the directors of the Agency for Electronic Communications and Postal Services of Serbia, Mr Vladica Tintor and the Agency for Electronic Communications of The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Mr Sasho Dimitrijoski, signed a protocol for cooperation between the two countries’ national centers for  computer incidents response teams, MKD-CIRT and SRB-CERT.


Development – other


Montenegro adopts Open Government Partnership National Action Plan 2018-2020

The Montenegrin Cabinet adopted the National Action Plan 2018–2020 for the implementation of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), developed by an OGP Operational Team composed of representatives of state authorities and non-governmental organisations. The National Action Plan reflects the government’s commitments to fostering transparency, accountability and public participation. As part of its contribution to the OGP initiative, Montenegro focuses on five key areas: improving public services, citizen participation, access to information and openness of public administration bodies, more efficient management of public resources, and increasing public integrity. Within these areas, a total of 23 activities will be implemented. The Action Plan incorporates a series of activities focused on fostering the availability of open public data, as well as on enhancing the use of digital technologies for e-democracy and e-government services.

Moldova launches career guidance application

In an effort to tackle high unemployment rates among young people, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection of Moldova has launched a call for the development of a mobile application that would provide guidance in job searches. The winning app, called Surfing the Labour Market: Job Search Skills for Young People, was designed by the International Labour Organization at the cost of USD 18 000. The app will assist youth in identifying their work skills and getting informed about the characteristics of and opportunities in the labour market, as they are looking for work or for improving their professional perspectives. The toll also contains CV templates and job application forms. It is expected that such targeted job search methods would help young people find employment in an increasingly competitive and asymmetric labour market. The Romanian version of the mobile application will be launched in the upcoming period.  The app can be downloaded free of charge from GooglePlay for iOS and Android mobile systems.

Digitalising the local public administration in Croatia

The town of Zupanja in Eastern Croatia has initiated a process which will lead to the digitalisation of the public administration system and the implementation of technological tools in the management of public investments and infrastructures. The project will be implemented in cooperation with private company Sense. The first stage will consist of the establishment of a digital system to enable citizens to electronically obtain any document issued by the local public administration without having to be physically present in the town hall.


Economic – other issues


SEE+ countries are named among ‘digital challengers’ in a recent McKinsey report

In its recent report on The rise of digital challengers, the global consulting firm McKinsey outlined that, for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), the potential economic benefits of digitisation are up to EUR 200 billion in an additional gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025. Such benefits may be achieved primarily by improving the region’s productivity through a digital transformation of the public and private sectors, and by boosting e-commerce and consumer spending on digital equipment. The ten CEE countries examined in the report – Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia – are called ‘digital challengers’ as they ‘demonstrate strong potential for growth in the digital economy’. CEE countries are also well developed when it comes to mobile broadband coverage, with an average rate of 87%, and have a relatively good information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure. However, efforts are still needed to close the digital gaps across the region, and governments could achieve this by facilitating cross-border digital infrastructure projects in areas such as fibre optics, 5G technology, and strategic e-commerce logistics centres, and strengthened education systems. The report also notes that countries of CEE will only be able to capture the full potential of the digital transformation by cooperating closely with each other due to at least four factors: scale effects, similar starting points, common challenges, and best practices.

Azerbaijan is expanding the usage of smart contracts and blockchain technology

The Central Bank of Azerbaijan announced plans to use smart contracts to automate processes within the banking sector, as a way to ensure better integrity, confidentiality, and accessibility of information. The Central Bank is already implementing a pilot project in cooperation with the IBM Corporation aimed at developing a Digital Identification System based on Hyperledger Fabric, A Linux Foundation framework, to verify the reliability of the documents related to both individuals and legal entities for use with banks, credit providers and similar financial organisations. The new system is expected to simplify and automate the customer validation process and will be used by both credit organisations and clients. Blockchain is already used in the mobile notary services. At the same time, the Ministry of Justice is preparing the introduction of smart contracts technology in the country’s municipal system (for services such as electricity, water supply, and heating), to ensure transparency and prevent fraud in this area. Blockchain technology has been envisaged as a key contributor to the country’s digital transformation in a five-year economic development plan.

Ukrainian stakeholders discuss prospects of accessing the EU digital single market

On 16 November 2018, around 120 representatives of the governmental authorities, civil society, academia, and technology companies met within the framework of the Ukrainian Digital Development Forum to discuss the prospects for harmonisation of digital markets between Ukraine, the EU and the Eastern Partnership countries. In particular, they focused on trust and security in the digital economy, e-commerce, digital infrastructure, the development of ICT innovations ecosystem and digital competences, mutual recognition of e-signatures, and access to the European e-services in the fields of medicine and education. The Government Office for the Coordination of the European and Euro-Atlantic Integration has presented a draft strategy (roadmap) for the integration of Ukraine into the EU digital single market. The State E-Government Agency provided an update on the drafting of the National Broadband Access Plan and steps to be taken for bridging the digital divide and ensuring that every citizen is connected to the Internet by 2022. The participants adopted a resolution (available in Ukrainian) as a final document of the Forum.

Azerbaijan launches electronic and mobile residency programme to attract investors

The Central Bank of Azerbaijan announced plans to use smart contracts to automate processes within the banking sector, as a way to ensure better integrity, confidentiality, and accessibility of information. The Central Bank is already implementing a pilot project in cooperation with the IBM Corporation aimed at developing a Digital Identification System based on Hyperledger Fabric, A Linux Foundation framework, to verify the reliability of the documents related to both individuals and legal entities for use with banks, credit providers and similar financial organisations. The new system is expected to simplify and automate the customer validation process and will be used by both credit organisations and clients. Blockchain is already used in the mobile notary services. At the same time, the Ministry of Justice is preparing the introduction of smart contracts technology in the country’s municipal system (for services such as electricity, water supply, and heating), to ensure transparency and prevent fraud in this area. Blockchain technology has been envisaged as a key contributor to the country’s digital transformation in a five-year economic development plan.


Critical infrastructure


Serbia publishes first national law on critical infrastructures

In Serbia, the National Assembly has passed the country’s first law on critical infrastructure, which outlines, among other provisions, criteria for determining critical infrastructures, obligations to protect such infrastructures, and authorities with responsibilities in this regard. The law defines critical infrastructures as systems, networks, facilities or parts thereof whose disruptions could have serious consequences for national security, human health and lives, property, environment, citizens’ safety, economic stability, or endanger the functioning of the state’. The government, at the proposal of relevant ministries, is the one responsible for determining critical infrastructures in the following eight sectors: energy, traffic, water and food supply, healthcare, finances, telecommunications and information technologies, environmental protection and the functioning of state bodies. The law was received with some level of criticism from activists, who complained over the lack of public consultations before the adoption of this piece of legislation.


Privacy and data protection


A new law on data protection in Serbia

The National Assembly of Serbia has adopted a new Law on the protection of personal data, to enter into force starting August 2019. The law is inspired by the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and is part of Serbia’s obligations in the process of negotiating its accession to the EU. The new data protection requirements will apply to data controllers and processors in Serbia, as well as to those based outside the country, but which process personal data of Serbian citizens. Individuals are granted new rights in areas such as access to their data and data portability, and the notion of consent for data processing is strengthened (unambiguous and informed). Consent can now be expressed in electronic form also (unlike the previous law, which only recognised handwritten consent). The concepts of data security and privacy by design are included in the law as well. While the law is welcome by many as a positive step, some criticise it for being mostly a translation of the GDPR, whose actual implementation in the Serbian context might be questionable.


National & Youth IGF initiatives


November 2018


Youth IGF Turkey | 8 November 2018 | Istanbul, Turkey

The fourth Youth IGF Turkey was organised in partnership with the Media Literacy Association, Internet Society Turkey, Sariyer City Council, and The programme was put together through a call for issues, as in previous years, and it included a workshop on emerging technologies for the first time. The event also featured workshops on: ‘Data-based Entrepreneurship and AI’, ‘Personal Data Protection Regulations’, ‘Computer Networks and Security’, ‘Access to Information and the Organisational Power of the Internet’, ‘ICANN 101’, ‘Domain Name Administration’, ‘Media Literacy’, and ‘Internet Governance and Youth’. The fifth forum is planned to be held in the capital Ankara, with possible intersessional activities to be undertaken in collaboration with universities. This year also marked the first year when Youth IGF Turkey supported another forum, namely the first Media Literacy Forum with workshops on ‘Internet Governance’ and ‘Digital Hygiene’ with Medipol University’s Communications Faculty students.



Fellowships, scholarships, events and other engagement opportunities for SEE+ stakeholders




SEEDIG Ambassadors Programme | Year-long opportunity

Active members of the SEEDIG community are invited to apply for becoming SEEDIG Ambassadors and contribute to achieving SEEDIG’s mission. Ambassadors will act as liaisons between SEEDIG and the local Internet communities in their countries, and also carry on SEEDIG’s messages at the European and international level. Applications can be submitted until 6 December 2018.

SEEDIG Youth School | Online & Bucharest, Romania | January – May 2019

The SEEDIG Youth School invites applications from SEE+ students interested in learning more about Internet governance, digital policy, and how they can contribute to shaping the digital future. The call for applications is open until 16 December 2018.


Upcoming events


December 2018


Developer’s Software Conference 2018 | 1 December 2018 | Vitebsk, Belarus<

GrowIT conference | 1–2 December 2018 | Novi Sad, Serbia

DatacenterDynamics Converged | 4 December 2018 | Istanbul, Turkey

Eastern European DNS Forum | 4–5 December 2018 | Moscow, Russia

International Conference on Emerging Networking Experiments and Technologies (CoNEXT) | 4–7 December 2018 | Crete, Greece

24th Azerbaijan International Telecommunications, Innovations and High Technologies Exhibition and Conference | 4–7 December 2018 | Baku, Azerbaijan

Zagreb Connect | 5 December 2018 | Zagreb, Croatia

Advanced Technology Days 14 | 5–6 December 2018 | Zagreb, Croatia

Startup Albania | 5–7 December 2018 | Tirana, Albania

Kyiv Tech Hub | 6 December 2018 | Kyiv, Ukraine

Eastern Partnership Business Forum 2018 | 6 December 2018 | Vienna, Austria

Smart Cities Conference | 6–7 December 2018 | Bucharest, Romania

Blockchain Conference Azerbaijan 2018 | 7 December 2018 | Baku, Azerbaijan

UADOM-2018 | 7 December 2018 | Kyiv, Ukraine

TechCamp Cyprus | 7–9 December 2018 | Nicosia, Cyprus

International Conference in Information Security and Digital Forensics | 7–9 December 2018 | Thessaloniki, Greece

GeoNOG1 | 10 December 2018 | Tbilisi, Georgia

CloudCom 2018 | 10–13 December 2018 | Nicosia, Cyprus

Georgian Internet Governance Forum 2018 | 11 December 2018 | Tbilisi, Georgia

New Era of Technology Innovation in ICT, 5G and Optical Technologies| 13 December 2018 | Thessaloniki, Greece

Seedstars CEE Summit | 12–14 December 2018 | Kyiv, Ukraine


Read previous versions of the SEEsummary.



Editorial note

The SEEsummary is produced on a best effort basis, by our team of volunteer editors. Each month, the editors scan local and regional media, as well as websites of public institutions and other organisations, and compile what they find to be some of the most significant digital policy developments.

The SEEsummary does not claim to be a comprehensive source of information. Despite our efforts, we may miss some things happening across the region. To help us cover as many significant developments as possible, we invite you to share with us news from your countries.

While we do our best to double-check the information we cover, and we always provide links to the sources, we acknowledge the fact that errors might appear in our summaries. Please rest assured that such errors are never made on purpose. And we always stand ready to correct them.

For any corrections or contributions to our summaries, please contact SEESummary coordinator Sorina Teleanu, at