OSCE counters extremism and terrorism in Bratislava conference

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times April 5, 2019 17:19

OSCE counters extremism and terrorism in Bratislava conference

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  • Strengthening cooperation among states and fostering partnerships between governments and civil society are key to countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism.

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TIRANA – More than 400 political representatives, national counter-terrorism coordinators, senior policy experts, practitioners and representatives of civil society, business and academia from across the OSCE’s participating States and Partners for Cooperation gathered in Bratislava for a two-day conference to take stock of efforts to prevent and counter terrorism as well as violent extremism and radicalization that lead to terrorism (VERLT) in the OSCE area.

Strengthening cooperation among states and fostering partnerships between governments and civil society are key to countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism. These are the goals and the recurring message of the annual OSCE-wide Counter-Terrorism Conference which was held in Bratislava March 25-26, 2019.

“Actions of violent extremists and tragic acts of radicalized individuals have become a virus infecting our societies, harming people and hindering peaceful development,” opened Lukáš Parízek, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic/Special Representative for the Slovak OSCE Chairmanship, recalling recent incidents in Christchurch, New Zealand and Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Parízek said that countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism and radicalization is a key security commitment of OSCE participating States and remains one of the top priorities for Slovakia’s 2019 OSCE Chairmanship. The OSCE is developing powerful, human-rights compliant counter-terrorism programmes, as well as platforms and mechanisms for government and civil society cooperation to disengage individuals from violent extremism and terrorism. The conference itself was supposed to serve as an opportunity for representatives of participating and Partner States, together with parliamentarians, experts, civil society and business to foster multi-stakeholder approaches to preventing violent extremism and radicalization.

Director of the Office of the OSCE Secretary General Paul Bekkers underlined that the conference provides an opportunity to discuss current trends such as home-grown terrorism, the rise of right-wing nationalist violence, and the return of foreign terrorist fighters and their family members. He said that these trends challenge existing policies and quick responses while retaining OSCE’s values must be taken.

“We will discuss the pressing issue of rehabilitation and reintegration of former terrorism offenders and returning foreign fighters. After all, individuals are often returning back into the same environments which enabled their radicalization to terrorism in the first place. It is imperative that we find the right mix of responses to protect society and to help those willing to redeem themselves,” said Bekkers.

Michèle Coninsx who is Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) stressed that a more comprehensive and holistic approach is needed to preventing and countering terrorism.

Coninsx noted that terrorism must be fought on multiple fronts. The policies and methods followed must employ a broader perspective that is focused on developing close partnerships with civil society and private industry. She said that community engagement and resilience are also essential in responding to and countering the spread of violent extremism that leads to terrorism.

The opening speakers’ remarks were followed by keynote speeches by Oleg Syromolotov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation; Oleg Kravchenko, Deputy-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus; Artak Apitonian, Deputy Foreign Minister of Armenia; Dragan Pejanović, State Secretary at the Ministry of Interior of Montenegro; Chris Harnisch, Deputy Coordinator for Countering Violent Extremism at the United States State Department and John Gatt-Rutter, Head of the Counter-Terrorism Division at the European External Action Service.

The discussions will conclude tomorrow with closing remarks by Vladimir Voronkov, Under-Secretary-General of the UN Office on Counter-Terrorism, Thomas Greminger, OSCE Secretary General, and State Secretary Parízek.

In this conference Albania was represented by Dr. Arben Ramkaj, a renowned teolog from the Albanian Muslim community who serves as director of the Inter- Religious Collaboration Center in Elbasan (IRCCE), OSCE specialists, Agron Sojati who is National Coordinator for Countering Violent Extremism/Director of the Coordination CVE Center – Albania, and Deputy Interior Minister Besfort Lamallari.

“I also would like to stress, as mentioned in the conference, the importance of the coordination among the states and the civil society for countering violent extremism, but also for treating this phenomenon based on the reality each country has to deal with on its own. This conference was also a good opportunity to connoisseur more civil society actors , who are practically the unknown soldiers in curing this phenomenon and its further prevention,” said Dr. Ramkaj regarding the conference.

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Tirana Times
By Tirana Times April 5, 2019 17:19