My plea for a safer world at the Remembrance Day for Victims of Terrorism

Brussels, 11 March 2015

Distinguished Commissioners,

Ambassadors,

Dear Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honor and privilege for me to be here today and address you on behalf of the deputy prime minister and minister of Security and the Interior, Mister Jan Jambon.

Our thoughts are with the victims of the horrendous terroristic attacks and those who grieve for them.

It must be our priority number one to prevent such terrorist attacks in the future.

As State Secretary for Asylum and Migration, the problem of Foreign Fighters in my country is also my concern.

Extremist organizations are still luring youngsters to train and fight for them in Syria or other areas of conflict. It is a ticking time bomb which we need to prevent exploding with all means possible.

From the beginning, the new Federal government in my country has made the fight against radicalization a top priority. The attack on our Jewish Museum in Brussels, the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris and the attack we were able to prevent in the Belgian town of Verviers, have accelerated our efforts.

The Belgian government has announced a package of 12 strong measures.

The list is long but let me give you some examples:

  • We are increasing options for revoking Belgian nationality.
  • The identity cards and passports of people who present a risk can be confiscated temporarily.
  • We will monitor foreign fighters who return to Belgium more systematically and more effectively.
  • We are investing much greater capacity in state security for anti-terrorism purposes.
  • One final example, on my initiative the Council of Ministers agreed on a new law which will make it possible to revoke the refugee status for people who pose a threat to national security.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As a Belgian Government we are working hard on taking measures. I would like to emphasize the need to introduce a Personal Name Record system on a European level. This system aims at making it compulsory for airlines to pass on passengers’ lists in advance.

Only with an integrated security approach, we will be able to win the fight against terrorism all together.

But a problem this big, needs to be tackled internationally with smart measures that go a lot further than just security and repression.

We also need to focus on identification and prevention. From childhood on, we need to protect young people from preachers of hate who want to brainwash them to go and fight against our western society in the name of the so-called Holy War.

In this context the SSCAT project that Minister Jambon will be rolling out from Brussels for the entire European Union seeks to develop a cross media communication strategy. SSCAT stands for ‘Syria Strategic Communications Advisory Team’. SSCAT will serve as a counternarrative against the messages of hate of jihadist preachers – who nowadays primarily roam around the internet. The European Union has reserved 1 million Euro for the SSCAT project.

The developed general communication strategy can be used by the different European countries as they see fit.

Dear all,

Radicalization and terrorism are not just European problems they are global problems. So let me make a plea for an international cooperation against this terrible threat. But only with an integrated and global approach will we reach our goal: creating a safer world together – a world that tackles the problems at their root and does not wait until it is too late…

Thank you for your attention

Theo Francken

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