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North Macedonia Hosts the Regional Workshop for Europe on National Cybersecurity Strategies

Skopje, June 26th, 2019

North Macedonia, with the support of the International Telecommunications Union - ITU, hosts the three-day workshop on cybersecurity.

The event was opened by the Minister of Information Society and Administration, Damjan Manchevski, Ionut Andrei, State Secretary in the Ministry of Communications and Information Society, in capacity of representative of the Romanian Presidency in the Council of EU, Marco Obiso, Head of the ICT Applications and Cybersecurity Division at ITU, and Milan Sekuloski, Senior Advisor for Europe and Central Asia from the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance - DCAF.

Minister Manchevski's speech is available below:

"Dear hosts, distinguished guests and colleagues,

It's a great pleasure to welcome you all at the first ITU Workshop for Europe on National Cybersecurity Strategies hosted by the Macedonian Ministry of Information Society and Administration, where national cyber security experts will discuss the current regional cyber security outlook, as well as future regional and international collaborations.

I believe that hosting the first ITU Workshop for Europe on National Cybersecurity Strategies is a prime example of North Macedonia's commitment to facilitate regional and international cooperation, making clear that the size of a nation's territory does not determine the impact of its commitment to regional security. I am thrilled to welcome you all in Skopje, at an event that brings together those committed to crafting a safer cyber space and exchanging ideas and sharing best practices from across the Western Balkans and the globe.

As it is known, information technologies are developing at an unprecedented pace and trends in this field change every day. Objects are becoming more connected to each other with the concept of IoT. The IoT, refers to the billions of physical devices around the world that are now connected to the internet, collecting and sharing data. Therefore, this data’s security is crucial for people, companies and countries.

At the same time, we are all aware that the cyber space does not have physical borders. As nations, we do not have a territory that we are committed to protect. The cyber space is shared by global citizens, public administrations, businesses, civil societies, international organizations, but also malicious users and criminal organizations. On a daily basis, we face security challenges. Thus, it is our mutual responsibility to play fair and protect all the processes and most vulnerable data and access to resources. We need to prevent cyber-crime. This is why regional and international cooperation and alignment is essential. This being said, I am a strong advocate of sharing good case practices and experiences with our regional and international partners.

On the doorstep of NATO and soon the EU, North Macedonia is becoming an ever more attractive target for cyber-crime. Naturally, cyber security became one of the key priorities for the Government. The combination of strong political will and prioritization of cyber security capacity building with the support from our strategic partners, resulted in momentous results in the past year. From then onwards, the cyber security landscape changed significantly.

Against the sporadic and ad-hoc activities conducted at organizational or institutional level in the past, at the beginning of 2018 we established a clear and strategic vision for cyber security capacity building in North Macedonia. Capitalizing on the cyber security capacity review in cooperation with the World Bank and the University of Oxford, as well as the national analysis, the National Cyber Security Strategy and Action Plan for the period 2018-2022 have been developed. Both were adopted by the Government in 2018.

The Strategy and Action Plan were developed not only with the support of international partners and the European Commission, but also in a process of wide public consultations. As a Government, we are committed to transparency and involvement of all the sectors of the society. In this manner, the contents of the Strategy and the Action Plan have been subject of public debates, where representatives from the public, the private, the civil sector, the academia and etc. had the opportunity to provide comments and suggestions. This willingness from our side for capacity building has been complemented with strong multi-stakeholder cooperation, where each organization coming from different sectors of society was engaged in reviewing the content but also providing their experience and expertise.

By setting a strategic vision and practical activities for the implementation of the defined actions, we are continuing on the path towards building an open, safe and secure cyber space. The National Cyber Security Strategy and Action Plan for the period 2018-2022 focuses on: strategic level decision making, implementation of activities at operational level, as well as identification and protection of Critical Information Infrastructure.

Having a solid cyber security culture is one of the foundations of an open, safe and secure cyber space. Hence, raising the awareness about cyber security threats and promoting cyber security among citizens and organizations through education and sharing of good practices has been a vital element in the national cyber security capacity building. Cyber security awareness raising campaigns and public engagement with different stakeholders were implemented by different institutions and supporting organizations.

On a national level, we recognized the need to invest in equipping our people, the public administration workforce, but also our industry with the necessary skills and capacity, especially the Macedonian Computer Incident Response Team (MKD-CIRT) as the national coordinating body for the reporting and management of cybersecurity incidents. With the great cooperation and support from the EC in the field of digital policy, North Macedonia established a Science and Technology Park in Skopje, where soon a Regional Cyber Security Training and Research Centre will be established.

The proposal to establish a Regional Cyber Security Training and Research Centre in Skopje has been put forward and assessment of the organizational and financial resources is in progress. The proposed concept for the Regional Cyber Security Training and Research Centre would fit within the envisioned Technology Park, located in Skopje and would cover professional training - training center for public administration officers, academic research – academic cooperation and joint collaboration of WB6 research scholars. With this initiative, we aim to encourage public-private cooperation and EU-wide approaches to cybersecurity, focusing on research and innovation in the field of cyber security. This way, we will not only strengthen our national cyber security capacities, but the regional ones, encouraging young entrepreneurs and technology enthusiast to develop and test technologies to better protect users and infrastructures against cyber threats.

In the process of mapping global cyber security capacity building projects it encourages me to think that we are contributing to the process of creating a shared global vision with the support of the international community and our cross-border partners. I am happy to welcome all of you here today in North Macedonia, and wish you a very successful conference and enjoyable stay in Skopje".

 

Ministry of Information Society and Administration