Improved cooperation between all countries from the Euro-Mediterranean region is needed for the reduction of terrorism threats, said during the Official Opening of the Fourth Summer Academy for Democracy in the Euro-Med Region the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Yuri Sterk. He addressed the forum organized by the Bulgarian School of Politics “Dimitry Panitza”, dedicated to the problems of radicalization and extremism.
Risks to global security have reached unprecedented levels and the terrorist threat is constantly evolving. Our assessment is that there are a number of unused opportunities for improving cooperation on counter-terrorism issues in the Euro-Mediterranean region, said the Bulgarian Deputy Minister.
For the period of six days 21 young members of parliament, members of various political parties and civic organizations from Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Bulgaria will have lectures and share experience on the leading topic of this year’s edition “Violent Radicalization and Extremism in the Euro-Med Region and the Role of Civil Society in Developing Successful Countering Strategies”.
“Over the past few years the world has witnessed colossal changes in a number of countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The changes have transformed from the ground the image of both the region and the world. The sense of security of all of us has changed “, Yuri Sterk said to the participants. He listed the contemporary challenges that the international community is facing as a result of the increasingly uncontrollable migration pressure and the growing threat of radicalization and infiltration of extremism. These are social shocks that have followed the collapse of authoritarian regimes in a number of countries from the Middle East and North Africa, political instability, security issues and severe socio-economic consequences.
Sterk underlined the European Union’s active work to address the common challenges: “The Review of the European Neighborhood Policy, which was also been put to public discussion, covers all aspects of the relations between the EU and our neighboring countries, already focusing on a new dimension – security. There is a work in progress in order to strengthen the dialogue with individual countries in the Middle East and North Africa on these issues, but also taking into account the need to create employment and opportunities for socio-economic development, especially among young people”.
The Bulgarian Deputy Minister stressed the intention of Bulgaria during the forthcoming Presidency of the Council of the EU to improve the effectiveness of the proposed counter-terrorism policies in the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy, and also presented important steps for the effective handling of the common challenges. “It is more than ever necessary to unite efforts at a global level between institutions, business and civil society for the development of a strategy for proactive rather than reactive handling of radicalization, violent extremism and terrorist threats,” said Sterk. The Deputy Minister stressed the need for more active discussion about the reasons why young generations become more vulnerable to the messages of terrorist organizations. Тhe role of standard and social media is of utmost importance for the creation of a positive environment in which to spread messages of peace and stability.
“The effects of increasing radicalization and extremism around the world are reflected not only on the security in the world but also on the way we live today,” said Dr. Irina Alexieva, Executive Director of the Bulgarian School of Politics “Dimitry Panitza” during the opening of the forum. She welcomed participants at the Fourth Summer Academy and expressed her delight of the joining of three new countries to the participating so far – Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon. Alexieva quoted the famous Arab philosopher Ibn Khaldun: “He who finds a new path is a pathfinder, even if the trail has to be found again by others; and he who walks far ahead of his contemporaries is a leader, even though centuries pass before he is recognized as such.”
Lectors during the first day of the Summer Academy of the Bulgarian School of Politics were Prof. Mariana Malinova, PhD, Associate professor at the Department of Mediterranean and Eastern Studies at New Bulgarian University, Prof. Ahmed Dris, Executive Director of the Tunisian School of Politics and journalist Mr. Ruslan Trad.
Participants are expecting with great impatience their meeting with André Azoulay, Senior Advisor to King Mohammed VI of Morocco. On Saturday he will speak in front of the participants on the topic of building stability, sustainable development and inclusive societies in the Euro-Mediterranean region and why regional cooperation matters.