Speech by Minister Blok on intensifying cooperation with Jordan

Speech by Minister Blok on intensifying the joint effort of Jordan and the Netherlands to prevent violent extremism and to counter the threat of international terrorism.

“Majesties, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to welcome you today to this security round table with a focus on preventing violent extremism and countering the threat of international terrorism. A threat that is of great concern to us all, and this is continuously evolving.  Just three years ago, our main focus was on individuals leaving to Syria and Iraq to join terrorist groups there. These foreign terrorist fighters raised concern worldwide as their numbers were quickly rising and so was the threat they are posing to global and national security.

When ISIS started to lose ground in Syria and Iraq, we saw a new trend emerging: the returning foreign terrorist fighters, bringing into sharper focus question of return, rehabilitation and reintegration.

So far, the exodus of foreign terrorist fighters from the battlefield has not been the big surge that some scenarios predicted, at least in the Dutch experience, but that does not mean that the threat is not real. And by comparison, our numbers are just a small fraction of the scale that Jordan is confronted with.

We are here because we know that the terrorist threat is evolving and we need to address these changes to keep our citizens safe. We greatly appreciate Jordan’s efforts in addressing these complex questions, as a key bilateral and multilateral partner. For instance, the co-chairmanship of the Foreign Terrorist Fighters working group of the Global Counter Terrorism Forum, initiated by the Netherlands and Morocco, is now in the safe and knowledgeable hands of Jordan. We look forward to your meeting in Amman next month. As co-chair of the Foreign Terrorist Fighter working group of the Global Coalition Against Daesh, I am convinced that we can strengthen each other’s efforts in this respect.

Over the past three years Jordan, the Netherlands and the broader international community have gained a wealth of expertise in addressing these complex issues, but important challenges remain. For instance: How do we improve information-sharing? How do we detect flows of possible returnees? Are they sent here with an assignment from ISIS? Or can they – after the criminal justice system has run its course – be reintegrated into society? How to deal with returning families? They can be victims, but they may also pose a security risk to our society. All questions and dilemmas which we jointly address and discuss, within the GCTF, the Global Coalition or the UN. 

We also see the trend of attacks carried out on own soil, with the most common objects you can imagine used as weapons, such as kitchen knives and trucks. The so-called threat of home-grown terrorists. We see Daesh claiming attacks in a split second to increase fear amongst our people. This fear, with often an increasing divide between different groups in society as a result, puts countries under immense pressure. 

This again shows us why today we still need to keep striving for a balanced approach and stay focused on prevention as well. Preventing that more people choose the path of radicalisation to violent extremism. In this light it is a pleasure to be part of the UN Group of Friends on Preventing Violent Extremism initiated by Jordan. In combination with your role in the upcoming renewal of the UN Global Counterterrorism Strategy we are confident that this angle will be reflected.

Dear participants, we need to keep renewing and reviewing our approach. What worked a couple of years ago is not a standard recipe for today. The threat of yesterday can today be an entirely different one. The strength of our cooperation lies in sharing experiences, expertise and information. This is exactly what we will do today.”

Ministry responsible