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New York, 21 September 2016
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Let me begin by thanking the co-chairs of this Forum, the Netherlands and Morocco. I very much appreciate your commitment to streamline the way we work. The Netherlands have suggested to focus on five “Rs” – results, resources, relations, reinforcement and renewal. And this sounds to me like a good roadmap for our work.
Over the last six years this Forum has produced a tremendous amount of practical guidance and best practices. All this work has to translate into better policies and better practices on the ground. It is vital to better connect this international Forum to national governments and to local communities – because the threat we face can only be effectively address if we can play on different levels, as the terrorists do.
The terrorist threat is evolving, has evolved, its nature has changed both inside our own societies and internationally.
In each of our countries, terrorist groups are targeting our youth, those who cannot find a place inside our societies but also those that are not marginalised at all. This puts questions to all of us on the model of integration of young people in all our societies and what place in the organigram we can offer to our youth. Recent terrorist attacks in Europe tell us that radicalisation can happen in a matter of weeks, not years.
At the same time, the threat is also evolving in its cross-border dimension. The military dynamics in Syria and in Libya are generating new movements of foreign terrorist fighters, who return from the battlefield to their home countries – in the European Union and in Central Asia, in the Balkans and in the Sahel.
The European Union working on new ways to tackle both the internal and the international dimension of the threat. At home, we are passing new legislation to improve police and justice cooperation, to contrast the traffic of small arms, to close the channels for terrorist financing. And we are taking much more seriously the work inside our communities, where radicalisation and recruitment happen. Here, on this, we need to exchange more on practices for prevention models.
Outside our borders, we know that the strength of our partners is our own strength. So we are focusing on capacity building in the Middle East and North Africa, in Turkey and the Western Balkans, in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa.
In North Africa and the Middle East our primary focus in recent months has been on Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan, where we are pursuing joint efforts in the fight against terrorism by providing counterterrorism assistance in the areas of security sector reform, prevention of radicalisation including the recruitment of foreign terrorist fighters and their return, critical infrastructure and soft target protection, including with regard to tourism, industry and transport.
We have developed our network of counterterrorism experts in the EU Delegations. We currently manage a network of 11 counterterrorism and security experts posted to EU delegations in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey. We have just expanded it to Chad and Bosnia-Herzegovina and added civilian CT expertise to Lebanon. Key areas of their capacity building support are in the fields of law enforcement, criminal justice, countering financing of terrorism and counter-radicalisation and violent extremism.
We are also increasing the funds allocated to help our partners who are working on new strategies to Prevent Violent Extremism. We are currently investing more than 150 million euros on that, and let me highlight the good work we are making with Tunisia and Somalia in this regard.
As you know we also co-finance three initiatives inspired by this Forum. Each of them highlights one of the priorities of our action.
First, understanding a complex phenomenon – and that’s the core business for Hedayah, the Centre of Excellence on Research on CVE in Abu Dhabi.
Second, working on capabilities. The Malta Institute (International Institute on Criminal Justice and the Rule of Law) is doing an excellent job, for instance, training judges from Benin, Chad, Mali, Niger, Cameroon, Senegal and Burkina Faso on terrorism cases.
Third, working with local communities – as the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund does. Working at community level – where people know each other is crucial.
The fight against radicalisation is also central to our work as the Co-Chair of the Horn of Africa Working Group, alongside Turkey.
As Bert mentioned, there is diplomatic and military work ongoing in Africa, the Sahel and Lake Chad region, in Libya or Syria.
In the European Union we are strengthening, consolidating and expanding our work on counter terrorism. In particular, we have started to cross our own internal borders, between internal and external policies and tools. And we also have new EU Commissioner Julian King, with whom I will start working as of next week.