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Statement at the CTC on Counter-Terrorism in South-East Europe

Statement by Representative of Slovenia to the UN Security Council Ambassador Samuel Žbogar at the open briefing of the Counter-Terrorism Committee on South-East European Member States’ implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions and the Committee’s visit recommendations

Distinguished Chairman, Excellencies and Colleagues,

We would like to thank the Chair and CTED for organizing this timely discussion today on counter-terrorism efforts in the South-Eastern Europe. As no country is safe from the scourge of terrorism, it is very important that we discuss this in the sub regional context.

We strongly condemn all forms and manifestations of terrorism and violent extremism under any pretext or justification regardless of their nature or religious, ethnic or other ideology. For these reasons, Slovenia is constantly adopting new measures and making progress in implementing relevant Security Council resolutions on counter-terrorism and other good practices.

Slovenia is committed to combat terrorism while ensuring full respect for international law, including international human rights law, international humanitarian law and international refugee law.

In 2019 Slovenia adopted the National strategy on prevention of terrorism and violent extremism and on this basis adopted an operational action plan. Both of these documents are based on a horizontal, whole-of-society approach. Beside the National Security Council, the main coordinating body in fight against terrorism is the Inter-Ministerial Working Group for Counter-Terrorism and its subsidiary body, the Inter-Ministerial Working Group for Prevention of Radicalization, where a civil society member was also recently included.

At all of systemic, strategic, and operational levels, Slovenia is further developing its comprehensive policy to fight terrorism in a preventive way, with the focus on the most vulnerable groups. Slovenia’s approaches incorporate the gender dimension, including the role of women as vectors of radicalization and de-radicalization.

Threats do not stop at our national borders. They are common through the whole region of South East Europe as it is apparent from today’s discussion. The main concerns are:

  1. the nexus between terrorist groups and transnational organized crime in areas such as drug smuggling, trafficking of illegal arms and human trafficking,
  2. potential threat from FTFs returnees where reintegration processes were not successful, and
  3. the threat emanating from self-radicalized individuals.

In recent years, the threat of self-radicalization is closely connected with dissemination of radical propaganda, misinformation and hate speech online, on social media and gaming platforms, which has also been detected in the region. In order to effectively counter terrorist and violent extremist narratives, Slovenia is working on developing a comprehensive approach through Disinformation Working Group within the Secretariat of the Slovenian National Security Council on policy level and project team or task force on disinformation within the Government Communication Office on operational level. Both started work in November 2023.

Common threats posed by terrorism mean that close and efficient international and regional cooperation is essential. Slovenia is a reliable partner in EU counter-terrorism projects, Schengen border control, EU Radicalization Awareness Network (RAN) and other relevant security initiatives. Slovenia is also a member of the Global Coalition against Da’esh and its Working Group on Foreign Terrorist Fighters.

Furthermore, Slovenia is active in regional cooperation in South-East Europe. One of our priority missions in the field of counter-terrorism is to promote cooperation, international development support and sharing of lessons learned and good practices throughout the Western Balkans region. One of the initiatives launched by Slovenia is the operational group for the fight against terrorism composed of members from the Western Balkans region, several EU Member States, Europol, and Interpol. Slovenia also put forward the Western Balkans Counter Terrorism Initiative (WBCTi), which is implemented as part of the Integrative Internal Security Governance (IISG), with over 50 organizations and donors active in this field.

Slovenia is active in building resilience with projects through its Centre for European Perspective in cooperation with partners from EU and US. With European Digital Diplomacy Exchange project more than 600 people from the EU countries as well as Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries were trained thereby building resilience to disinformation and misinformation.

Region specific project on countering foreign disinformation in Western Balkans aims to enhance resilience and boost regional cooperation against disinformation by connecting relevant stakeholders and create collaboration on countering foreign disinformation, providing capacity building and creating regional platform to exchange information.

Excellencies,

Slovenia strongly and consistently supports enhanced cooperation between the EU and its Member States and countries of the region of Western Balkans. This has provided a common focus and led to concrete deliverables in order to tackle the existing security challenges, including systematic strengthening of regional cooperation. Slovenia plays an active role in the activities coordinated by Europol and Interpol. Those activities include cooperation in the fight against terrorism, be it on strategic and legislative level, or on operational cooperation between national security organizations.

It is clear from the interventions today, that the nature of terrorist threat is global with a regional impact, with most countries facing very similar challenges, which makes our cooperation and today’s exchange that much more important.

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