Thank you, Minister [for Foreign Affairs of Egypt, Sameh] Shoukry. Thank you, dear Sameh. Thank you to all of you for being here today.
It is my great pleasure to co-host this meeting for the first time with you today. We – the European Union – have been in the role of co-chair for a year now and I would like to thank you, as well as Morocco, [the] previous co-Chair, Minister [for Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccan Expatriates of Morocco, Nasser] Bourita – and all [Global] Counter Terrorism Forum (GCTF) members for what has been done and for our fruitful cooperation.
Together, we are working to make this Forum, first, more dynamic. As global realities and threats evolving quickly, our Forum is a driving force in developing ways and means to prevent and counter terrorism and violent extremism all over the world.
Secondly, to make it more inclusive. We are working more and more with frontline states, those who are most at threat, and frontline practitioners, from national and local government to community and civil society. We are – all of us – striving to ensure greater gender parity and diversity.
Thirdly, we have to be more focused and action-oriented. The activities presented to the Coordinating Committee and discussions over the past couple of days showcase the potential of this Forum. It is important that our work is underway, for example, on new technologies; on border security and management to tackle the movement of terrorists; or on linking the state and the local levels, where prevention, de-radicalisation and reintegration effectively can effectively take place.
Our meeting today is particularly important. The presence of our colleagues from Kenya and Kuwait testifies our dynamic and inclusive approach. Minister [for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs of the Republic of Kenya, Alfred] Mutua, Deputy Minister [for Foreign Affairs of Kuwait] Sheikh Jarrah Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, very welcome to this Forum.
By welcoming these two new members, we are broadening the base of this Forum – an expert multilateral forum that develops global solutions to tackle terrorism and its root causes.
The speed at which the threat level is spreading across Africa is particularly worrying. Increasing the representation of African voices in Counter-Terrorism multilateral fora is of essence. I also count on working more closely with the African Union (AU) for a fitting and much-needed civilian response to the threat on the African continent.
Inviting these new members is, in fact, a very good example of how we can develop the multilateral system into a more inclusive and representative one.
This is a Forum that allows us to learn from each other, to coordinate our efforts to make them more effective. Sharing national and bilateral cooperation experiences is central to our work.
The three Institutions established to accompany the GCTF are also very important in implementing its vision and operational tools. They all continue to do excellent work on the ground in all our priority areas.
Which are these priority areas? Which are these actors?
The Global Community Engagement [and Resilience] Fund – better known by its acronym GCERF – which works in 21 countries globally, providing grants to civil society organisations and community-based Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
The Hedayah, which develops programmes, such as the European Union’s “STRIVE” or “tech-to-protect” [projects], to make communities aware of the risks of violent extremism, working with religious leaders, media and youth – from Central Asia to the Caucasus, from the Western Balkans to the Middle East and North Africa.
And thirdly, the International Institute for Justice (IIJ) which is providing expert training around the world, taking forward the practical application of GCTF memoranda and good practice.
Working with all these three organisations since their creation, the European Union – together with the co-chair Egypt – is using these Institutions as key vehicles for actions to prevent and counter terrorism [and violent extremism] across the globe. And, naturally, we are also working with the United Nations family.
In all our actions, involving civil society is vital. We cannot effectively address the root causes of violent extremism, or effectively rehabilitate former terrorists without involving civil society, without free and reliable information outlets or without community leaders.
Nevertheless, the civic space required for this continues to shrink in many parts of the world. That is why, we must do our utmost to reverse this trend across the globe. It will benefit greatly societies and, naturally, will make our counterterrorism operations more successful.
Allow me a final word on an issue that is dear to me: to fight terrorism, we must promote tolerance. All too often, we see provocative acts in our societies, acts of intolerance and hate. We see Qu’ran burnings. We see the targeting of ethnic, religious or other minorities fueling intolerance and grievances. These are, time and again, exploited by terrorists [and violent extremists] to spread their distorted ideologies, recruiting and deploying terrorist acts.
Diversity and tolerance are essential for a peaceful society. Let us all lead by example in promoting this tolerance in our countries and in our societies, and among everybody around the world.
Thank you very much for your attention.
Now, I am going to give the floor to our new member, Kenya. Minister Mutua, welcome again and the floor is yours.
Link to the video (starting from 2:30): https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-245855