Dear members of Parliaments from the Western Balkan countries,
Dear professors and experts,
Dear colleagues from the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Preventing and countering violent extremism is a task which, nowadays, occupies countries all over the world and became a top priority on the international agenda. We all know that it’s a burning issue in Kosovo. But we are all affected in one way or another, and we all share the burden but also the will to take effective measures in order to address this issue.
On the international level, the Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism of the UN Secretary-General is an important guiding document for the joint efforts in this field. Switzerland is very supportive of this Action Plan with its practical approach. We back the efforts to share good practices and standards in the field of prevention of violent extremism.
An important aspect mentioned in the Action Plan is the balance between taking the necessary strict measures while respecting human rights obligations. Strengthening good governance and human rights are important pillars of preventing violent extremism. However, preventive measures can also endanger or violate human rights and democratic liberties.
This is where your role, as parliamentarians, is absolutely crucial. Your work is also situated between the two poles of ensuring effective legislation to combat violent extremism on the one hand and, on the other hand, ensuring that fundamental rights are respected. This is not an easy task and needs constant debate, exchange with experts and civil society. Furthermore, regional collaboration and exchange of best practices with other parliaments is essential.
The Swiss Government and I personally believe that this – your – work is of central importance. This is also the reason why we are a proud supporter of today’s roundtable.
I hope that today’s discussion will help you develop if not ready answers then useful strategies on how to deal with these issues. It will provide you with ideas on how to tackle these challenges and it will connect you with your colleagues of the region so you can exchange your experience and your best practices. This exchange will take place during the conference, but ideally also in the future. With this conference, the work is not done. But hopefully you will have more tools available to facilitate your challenging oversight work in months and years to come.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank DCAF for the organization of this roundtable. Due to their long-standing support to the Assembly of Kosovo in the field of democratic control of the security sector, they are well placed to provide expertise in today’s topic as well.
I look forward to hearing your insights and exchanges on how to prevent and counter violent extremism and, in particular, on how you as parliamentarians can critically but constructively oversee the measures taken by your respective governments.
Thank you very much.