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Member of the European Commission responsible for Home Affairs
VII European Day on Remembrance of Victims of Terrorism
Conference on “The role of Victims of Terrorism in preventing violent radicalization”
Brussels, 11 March 2011
Ladies and Gentlemen,
There are certain dates which will always be with us. The 11 March is one of them. Seven years have passed since the terrible attack in Madrid but it feels like it was yesterday. And like many of you here today, I lost someone dear. In my case it was my good friend, Juan.
In the fight against terrorism I sometimes come across people saying that we exaggerate the threat.
All of you here are proof that the threat is real and that we have to do more to prevent future attacks from happening.
So let me thank the European Network of Associations of Victims of Terrorism for organizing this event. And it is a particular honour to welcome you, victims and families of the victims, to express my solidarity directly to you on this seventh European Day on Remembrance of Victims of Terrorism.
This day gives us the opportunity to remember and honour those who have lost their lives in terrorist attacks in Europe and elsewhere in the world.
This day is also a testimony to the global recognition of the dangers that terrorism presents to human life, democracy and our way of living.
And let's not be naïve. The terrorists are not stupid. As we try to improve security and fix current loopholes, terrorists are planning new attacks and discovering new loopholes. And in some ways, they are ahead of us.
We must therefore deploy our best efforts to protect our citizens from terrorism. All acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, whoever committed them, wherever they took place, and for whatever reason.
Maintaining security is, however, a complex challenge that needs the involvement of many actors and this requires a common and well coordinated strategy.
It is in this spirit that, last November, I presented an EU Strategy on Internal Security, identifying key priority areas of future action and a bundle of concrete measures to make Europe more secure.
Among these priorities, the challenge of fighting and preventing terrorism highlights the particular added value of intensified EU-cooperation.
One of the major issues to address is the growing problem of violent radicalisation. This is a phenomenon that can best be dealt with at the local level. It thus requires close cooperation with local authorities and civil society in order to empower key groups in vulnerable communities.
In the comings months, the Commission will develop an EU radicalisation awareness network to pool experiences, knowledge and good practices.
The awareness network will closely involve civil society organisations, such as associations representing victims of terrorism.
Victims have an important role to play in raising awareness amongst EU citizens and in bolstering our efforts to counter and delegitimize terrorism. Today's event is about listening to your experiences and stories.
The Commission will continue to work on ensuring that victims of terrorism are protected, and to provide financial support for projects and actions for the aid and protection of the victims of terrorism.
We will soon publish a targeted call for proposals aimed specifically at ''Radicalisation leading to terrorism and the role of victims of terrorism in preventing radicalisation'' with an overall budget of 2 million Euros.
I strongly encourage associations of victims to take advantage of this initiative and submit projects which can contribute to the prevention of terrorism.
This brings me to an end. I would like to share with you a quote by the honourable Winston Churchill, which describes our challenge very well. He said that:
"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
And I do hope that you being here today, and others who have become victims of terrorism, will continue to stand up and speak and spread the message of non-violence and reconciliation. Such a powerful message will be very important for us all.
As for the second part of the quote "to sit down and listen", I hope that I and my colleagues will have the courage to not run away with new drastic measures in the fight against terrorism. Something we politicians have a tendency to do directly after a terrorist attack has occurred. Instead, we need to stick to our long-term strategy.
To sit down and listen is also an excellent piece of advice when it comes to the work against radicalisation leading to terrorism. There is no one-size-fits-all solution in dealing with radicalisation - quite the contrary. That is why we have to work together and share the experiences of what works and what does not.
Only then can we be effective in the fight against terrorism.
And in this work you are all indispensible.