Strong Cities Countering Violent Extremism in Kosovo

Ambassador Delawie’s Remarks at the Strong Cities Countering Violent Extremism in Kosovo, March 6, 2017

Good morning and thank you so much for having me here today.

First let me say that we strongly support your efforts to prevent violent extremism in your communities. And I applaud your participation in the Strong Cities global initiative.

As the international community has learned time and again, assembling a united coalition is far better than going it alone.  And the spread of dangerous extremist ideology is a shared problem that we all have a stake in working together to prevent.

Terrorists can emerge in any country and we know too well that hateful beliefs respect no border or barrier – what begins in one community can affect another in the blink of an eye.

This is what makes the Strong Cities Network so unique, so vital. You’re joining yourself to something that is both specifically local and profoundly global – a dichotomy that mirrors the threat itself.

Kosovo’s commitment to tackling this issue head on is clear – through your national strategy and action plan, by engaging with civil society and NGOs, and of course through Strong Cities, in which, by the way, Kosovo has the highest number of participating cities in the Balkans. And I truly commend you for this regional leadership.

Of course no single program can tackle this problem alone. Nor can we see into the heart of every individual whose disappointments and desires have set him on a violent path.

Radicalization uses violent ideologies that prey upon individuals at their most vulnerable, isolated, and disillusioned, searching for those to blame.

Strong Cities is so important in addressing such a multifarious and dynamic threat, in helping us develop and share best practices in responding to a threat that endangers us all.

Because we have faith in well-functioning local institutions and strong social ties as the best antidote to prevent violent extremism from taking root in Kosovo’s cities, towns and villages. This is the key insight of the Strong Cities program: no one knows better than local residents and leaders what is going on in their own communities, and where there might be problems that need attention.

As local leaders, you have the most credible and persuasive voices to challenge violent extremism in all of its forms and manifestations.

And to educate yourselves and others on the critical warning signs alerting you that something is terribly amiss with a member of your community.

The Strong Cities Network brings together leaders like you from some of our great urban centers. It provides an opportunity to share lessons learned and to compare past experiences and current challenges.  It serves as a vital tool to strengthen capacity-building and improve collaboration.  And it enables us to pool our resources and knowledge, leaving us standing stronger.

As Strong City members, I encourage you to participate actively in its efforts and to take advantage of its numerous and varied resources. By doing so, you will learn the practical steps you can take to safeguard the security and well-being of your citizens.  And you will demonstrate your support for the values of decency, inclusion, and mutual respect that are essential to economic and social progress.

For my part, I’m proud to continue partnering with you on this critical issue, and to working towards a prosperous and secure Kosovo in which all citizens see opportunities within their reach.

Thank you again for having me here today, and for your hard work and determination every day on behalf of your fellow citizens.