Photo: Ministry of Interior
Policy makers and practitioners from the European Union and the Western Balkan partners gathered in Sofia on 4 April 2018 to address common challenges in preventing and countering violent extremism. In the focus of the discussions were law enforcement cooperation and effective and sustainable partnerships with NGOs and communities at international and local level.
“We all face the need of expertise, regional coordination, funds, direct and close cooperation and deeper interaction between the EU and the Western Balkan countries,”
said Bulgarian Deputy Minister of Interior Milko Berner in his opening remarks. He noted that the topics of the discussions fully comply with two of the main priorities of the Presidency - enhancing the security of European citizens and involvement of the Western Balkans in the common efforts at EU level in all areas of common interest.
The participants addressed wide-ranging topics relevant to preventing and countering violent extremism. Accents were placed on:
- minimising the gaps between policy and practice developments;
- multi-agency cooperation;
- the need of approaches that are tailored to local circumstances, particularly when engaging with communities;
- and the essential role of religion and its ability to provide a supportive element as part of a number of successful de-radicalisation and disengagement efforts.
Special attention was paid to the activities concerning the development of a multidisciplinary response to address aspects of security and protection relating to minors, with the involvement of child protection, other social services and communities.
The Deputy Director-General of DG Migration and Home Affairs within the European Commission, Olivier Onidi, praised the quality debates:
“It’s crucial to get all the different dimensions together, hence the very strong focus that was put on the multi-agency work. These meetings bring different authorities, agencies, and experts in order to fill in the chain that allows for a proper response.”
The Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) brings together practitioners from around Europe working on the prevention of radicalisation. The Commission tasked the RAN Centre of Excellence to deliver six Policy and Practice Events in 2018. The main objective is to support the implementation of prevention policies and actions at national level and in particular facilitate the implementation of recommendations of the High-Level Commission Expert Group on Radicalisation (HLCEG-R). The first event, held on 4 April in Sofia as part of the calendar of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU, gathered policy makers and practitioners from both Western Balkan and European Union countries.