Dear friends and colleagues,
I want to thank our colleagues from the Kingdom of Morocco (MAE: Nasser Bourita) and from the Kingdom of the Netherlands (MAE: Bert Koenders) for hosting this meeting.
No durable solution in countering terrorism can be found outside a framework of multilateral cooperation. The Global Counterterrorism Forum offers a crucial contribution towards this goal.
We have in front of us a long-term challenge. We have won the battle of Mosul and military victory in Raqqa is near. But it’s not enough. Now that less than 2% of the territory remains in the hands of Daesh, its strategy will focus more on mobilizing “cells” and “lone-wolves”; on using the internet and social networks.
Terrorism is like the thousand-headed Hydra, ready to rise under new names, new banners. Therefore, we must prepare for a long-term commitment to stabilization, inclusive political dialogue and reconciliation, where terrorism has left destruction.
We need to continue spreading a culture of mutual respect and the defense of human rights. We must continue to engage local communities, religious leaders, women and youth groups in a constant dialogue.
We also must counter the massive destruction of cultural heritage and horrific “cultural cleansing”. Italy is at the forefront in the fight against the looting and trafficking of antiquities, which often finances terrorism. It’s been a priority of our G7 Presidency and as a member of the Security Council we promoted Resolution 2347 for this reason.
I welcome the Forum’s adoption of the Recommendations on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism and Terrorism Online. It’s vital to counter the dark narrative of radicalization, on the world wide web, also through partnerships with the private sector.
Both online and offline, we cannot be tolerant with intolerance. This is not in contrast with freedom of expression. Quite the contrary, we must be firm and decisive to safeguard our liberties.
The Forum’s focus on Foreign Terrorist Fighters is crucial. Preventing and managing the return of foreign fighters must be our security priority. We need to intensify our intelligence sharing to avoid new atrocities.
As “foreign terrorist fighters” are losing their battles in Iraq and Syria, they are trying to find ways back to the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.
To face this threat, Italy is deeply committed to sharing all its experience and know-how; to sharing more information; and to help train the intelligence services of our Arab partners. By sharing information and with mutual trust, we can tackle the dangerous return of these young, disillusioned, but still dangerous, foreign fighters.
Finally, I would like to thank Morocco and the Netherlands for their effort in renewing and streamlining our Forum, always with the objective of having greater impact: by sharing best-practices, by investing more in capacity building, and by reaching out to other actors, in order to create better partnerships against terror.
Asymmetric threats like terrorism require deep, sophisticated and flexible partnerships. So that as new threats arrive, we are always ready to defend our citizens, our values and our liberties. Thank you.