“Education and cultivation of tolerance are some of the most important steps in the fight against young people’s radicalisation. This can be done with the help of civil society, which should build an atmosphere of trust and dialogue in the various social groups – something that no government can achieve on its own.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zaharieva addressed these words to the chief diplomats of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) participating States who gathered at an Informal Ministerial Meeting in Mauerbach, Austria. Zaharieva made a statement during a roundtable session on “The fight against violent extremism and radicalisation leading to terrorism”.
In her address, Zaharieva thanked the Austrian Chairmanship of the OSCE and her colleague Sebastian Kurz for having raised this important topic and acknowledged the excellent cooperation between the law enforcement authorities and the border authorities of the Organization’s participating States. She stressed the importance of maintaining the OSCE field missions in the Balkans and in the Black Sea region: in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, the Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Ukraine and Armenia.
Bulgaria’s top diplomat also emphasised that the fight against radicalisation requires a different approach to men, women, boys and girls. “Women play a particularly important role in the prevention of and the fight against extremism escalating into terrorism. Their enrolment in education and work with the local communities is an important step,” Zaharieva said. “Otherwise, women may prove a powerful weapon in the hands of terrorists – both as perpetrators and as aiders.”
The Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister said that formal and informal education must be effectively used in the Western Balkans to encourage integration, tolerance and pluralism since the earliest years of childhood. “These efforts are unthinkable without the help of the media, as well as by encouraging the economic and political activity of risk groups and marginalised groups,” Zaharieva said further.
During the plenary session of the forum in Mauerbach, the Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister stressed that the security cooperation mechanisms that are available to the OSCE are exposed to risk due to declining confidence. “The crisis in Ukraine and the other conflicts within the OSCE’s geographical scope remain a strong challenge to European security, and it is now important more than ever before to rely on the OSCE principles: territorial integrity, transparency and refraining from violence,” Zaharieva added.
The Deputy Prime Minister also welcomed the efforts to reach a consensus on the election of a new OSCE Secretary General and of heads of the three stand-alone institutions with the Organization: a Director of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, a Representative on Freedom of the Media, and a High Commissioner on National Minorities.