100518 MV Rome OSCE wide Conference addressMakis Voridis addressing the OSCE-wide conference on FTFs in Rome, 10 May 2018ROME, 10 May 2018 – Parliaments and international fora such as the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly have a vital role to play in shaping innovative legislation and policies to reduce threats posed by returning foreign terrorist fighters, or FTFs, said Chair of the OSCE PA’s Ad Hoc Committee on Countering Terrorism Makis Voridis at a conference in Rome today.

As representatives of more than a billion citizens across North America, Europe and Central Asia, OSCE parliamentarians are fully committed to addressing terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization throughout the region, Voridis said. The OSCE PA is working to improve counter-terrorism legal frameworks while ensuring that policies respect fundamental freedoms, said Voridis, a member of the Greek Parliament.

“To reduce the threat posed by returning foreign terrorist fighters, we need to strengthen co-ordination and information-sharing channels at local, national, regional and international levels. We must also work on those who facilitate their recruitment, financing and movement, breaking the links between organized crime and terrorist networks,” he said.

Voridis was speaking at the OSCE-wide conference The Reverse Flow of Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs): Challenges for the OSCE Area and Beyond, organized by the Italian Chairmanship with support from the OSCE Transnational Threats Department. The two-day conference in the Italian capital is bringing together high-level representatives and experts of OSCE participating States and international organizations to exchange best practices on addressing new threats posed by returning or relocating FTFs and their affiliates.

In addition to Voridis, OSCE PA Secretary General Roberto Montella and members of the Ad Hoc Committee on Countering Terrorism Ignacio Cosido (MP, Spain), Fatmir Mediu (MP, Albania), and Abid Raja (MP, Norway) are attending the conference.

Members are raising points such as the need to focus on addressing root causes of radicalization and ending the conflicts that are attracting extremists from the OSCE region, including the long-running civil war in Syria. Countering the online propaganda of terrorist groups that incite young people to leave their homes to become FTFs was also highlighted as a priority. Ad Hoc Committee members are also stressing the need to improve border security, enhance prosecution capacities and develop effective de-radicalization and re-integration policies.

On the margins of the Rome conference, Voridis and Montella are holding bilateral meetings with Amb. John Gatt-Rutter, Head of Counter-terrorism Division, European External Action Service (EEAS); Dr. Jehangir Khan, Director of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism; Oleg Syromolotov, Deputy-Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation; Argo Avakov, Head of the Action against Terrorism Unit of the OSCE, Raffi Gregorian, Acting Deputy Coordinator at the Bureau of Counterterrorism in the U.S. State Department; and Anton Arefyev, Deputy Head of the Anti-Terrorism Center of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

These meetings aim to consolidate the PA’s partnership with key international actors and promote greater synergy in global counter-terrorism efforts, including with Slovakia ahead of its 2019 Chairmanship of the OSCE.

The full remarks of Makis Voridis are available here.

For more information on the OSCE conference on FTFs, please click here.

For more information on the OSCE PA's counter-terrorism work, please click here.