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2017 Vienna CCT visit 1OSCE PA Ad Hoc Committee on Countering Terrorism Chair Makis Voridis in a meeting with UNODC Director Yury Fedotov, Vienna, 14 Nov. 2017VIENNA, 14 November 2017 – Developing effective co-operation to address the threat of terrorism has been the focus of a two-day visit to Vienna by members of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on Countering Terrorism. Committee members met with officials from the United Nations and the OSCE’s executive structures to learn about their efforts and promote a stronger parliamentary perspective in counter-terrorism work.

In meetings, members of the PA’s delegation noted that parliamentarians play an important role in responding to the threat to security posed by violent extremism. Through the development of effective legislation that fully protects human rights and by tailoring legislative responses to fill gaps in the existing legal framework, lawmakers can contribute in a meaningful way to the international response, members said.

This week’s visit is the first official activity of the OSCE PA’s Ad Hoc Committee on Countering Terrorism (CCT), which was established at the OSCE PA’s Annual Session in Minsk last summer and met for the first time at the PA’s Autumn Meeting in Andorra last month. The Ad Hoc Committee Chair, Greek parliamentarian Makis Voridis, led the delegation to Vienna, which included the participation of several other members of the CCT.

Voridis said today that an innovative and comprehensive approach is urgently needed in developing strategies against extremist violence.

“Holistic and creative mechanisms are essential to prevent and respond to radicalization and extremism of all kinds, and ultimately to protect our societies from the scourge of terrorism,” Voridis said. “This is why the first visit of the OSCE PA’s counter-terrorism committee was to Vienna, the headquarters of the OSCE and other relevant international actors including the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. To deal with this threat we must work together, minimize duplication and ensure the most effective strategy possible. We owe our citizens nothing less.”

A meeting with OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger focused on areas where the Parliamentary Assembly can add value to and complement the OSCE’s ongoing counter-terrorism work, including by advocating for advancement and harmonization of relevant legislative and policy frameworks, promoting the exchange of best practices and lessons learned, bolstering global efforts to prevent violent extremism and radicalization, and enhancing public awareness in the OSCE region.

2017 Vienna CCT visit 2Members of the Ad Hoc Committee on Countering Terrorism meeting with OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger, Vienna, 13 Nov. 2017“Co-operation and co-ordination on all levels and between all relevant actors is essential in building efforts to effectively counter the terrorist threat,” said Greminger. “I therefore welcome the initiative of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in establishing the Ad Hoc Committee on Countering Terrorism and was very pleased to receive their members. I look forward to good co-operation going forward.”

Following his meeting with Greminger, Voridis gave an address at the Security Committee of the OSCE Permanent Council, where he noted that parliamentarians have a special commitment to their constituencies to prevent terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization.

“To meet this commitment, as parliamentarians we are called to shape innovative legislation and policies that strike a delicate balance between security and privacy, between effective counter-terrorism efforts and the respect for fundamental freedoms that underpin our democratic way of life,” Voridis said.

CCT members met Monday with the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Desir, for discussions that focused on how to ensure that freedom of expression is upheld while developing efforts to counter the use of the internet for terrorist purposes. A meeting with the Director of the OSCE’s Conflict Prevention Centre, Amb. Marcel Pesko, focused on applying the OSCE’s toolbox of early warning, mediation support and post-conflict rehabilitation to the fight against terrorism.

The important role played by OSCE field operations in this context was also highlighted, as was the role of the Parliamentary Assembly to serve as a bridge between the peoples and governments of the OSCE area. The PA can help facilitate dialogue between government leaders, local communities and civil society in counter-terrorism efforts, members said.

Meeting today with the Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov, CCT members underlined the readiness of the OSCE PA to work together with international partners, with a focus on identifying clear priorities and lines of action. Fedotov noted that the UNODC has already been working to promote the role of parliamentarians on counter-terrorism through co-operation with several parliamentary assemblies and hence greatly welcomed the PA’s focus in this field.

The PA and UN representatives discussed areas of focus for parliaments to contribute to these efforts, including ratification of relevant international conventions and strengthening anti-terrorism laws, data analysis and capacity building.

2017 Vienna CCT visit 3Members of the OSCE PA Ad Hoc Committee on Countering Terrorism in front of the Hofburg Congress Centre in Vienna, 13 Nov. 2017Committee members also met with Amb. Clemens Koja, Chairperson of the OSCE Permanent Council; Luca Fratini, Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the OSCE; Amb. Steffen Kongstad, Chair of the OSCE’s Security Committee and Permanent Representative of Norway to the OSCE; Michal Vanco, Third Secretary of the Slovak Delegation to the OSCE; Moussa Al-Hassan Diaw, Co-founder of DERAD; Myassa Kraitt, Deputy Director of the Extremism Information Center; Mauro Miedico, Chief of the Terrorism Prevention Branch of the UNODC; Dolgor Solongo, Officer-in-Charge of the Implementation Support Section of the UNODC.

In addition to Makis Voridis, the CCT’s delegation in Vienna included Ad Hoc Committee Vice-Chairs Stéphane Crusnière (Belgium) and Sofio Katsarava (Georgia), as well as members Ana Birchall (Romania), Lisa Chambers (Ireland), Ignacio Cosido (Spain), Fatmir Mediu (Albania), and Igor Popov (Ukraine). Also joining the OSCE PA’s delegation was Secretary General Roberto Montella and Special Representative Amb. Andreas Nothelle.

For photos of the visit to Vienna, please visit the OSCE PA's Flickr page.

For the full remarks of Makis Voridis to the OSCE Security Committee on Monday, please click here.

More information about the OSCE PA's Ad Hoc Committee on Countering Terrorism is available here.