Statement by Special Envoy of the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs on International Cooperation on Countering Terrorism, Director of the Department on New Challenges and Threats Mr. Vladimir Tarabrin at the Ministerial Meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF)
I am compelled to reply to the irresponsible statements by a number of delegations regarding the Russian Federation. Especially cynical are such statements made by the representative of the United States of America, a State that is itself the worst violator of the norms of international law and due to whose aggressive actions thousands of civilians have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and other countries. In general, the duplicity and hypocrisy of the USA and its Western vassals is astounding. For 8 years you have been turning a blind eye to the crimes committed by the Kiev regime against civilians in Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, and now you stubbornly fail to notice that this regime openly uses terrorist methods in its military operations.
The Russian Federation considers it beneath its dignity to polemize with false, biased and prejudiced statements on the situation in Ukraine. I would merely like to stress that the Special Military Operation is being carried out in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter in order to protect our country and the population of the DPR and LPR. Against the background of this extreme measure, we are making every effort to achieve an acceptable solution to the crisis in Ukraine strictly in accordance with the principles of indivisibility and security in Europe.
We would also like to recall that under Paragraph 10 of the revised GCTF Terms of Reference, GCTF Members should ensure that the GCTF maintains an inclusive, even-handed, and transparent approach to its work, while continuing to be an informal, non-political, action-oriented, and flexible platform committed to ensuring that it attracts the most capable and experienced counterterrorism practitioners and experts to the table. In order to succeed in this very specific endeavor, we should respect the mandate of the Global Counterterrorism Forum and do not intertwine non-relevant topics of a purely political nature into its activities to the detriment of the maintenance of the international anti-terrorist agenda. Unfortunately, the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs failed to fulfill this task, although on the whole we positively assess the Canadian-Maroccan co-chairmanship for the last 3 years.
Recent events confirm the trend of increasing multifaceted terrorist threats. Terrorism is being strengthened ideologically, financially and through the influx of new supporters. In this regard, the fundamental task of international cooperation of states in the fight against terrorism remains the organization of effective counteraction against ISIL, including its regional branches, Al-Qaida and associated individuals and organizations.
The problem of foreign terrorist fighters (FTF), most often relocating to regions with an unstable political and socio-economic situation, continues to pose a serious threat. This includes Afghanistan, which continues to be a threat to international peace and security. The coming to power of Taliban in August 2021 was a serious incentive for the international terrorist organizations to strengthen their military capabilities, which imposes even greater responsibility on the Taliban, still the leading military-political force in modern Afghanistan and a key player in the inter-Afghan peace settlement, to curb the anti-terrorist threat in the Afghan territory, where the pro-ISIL and pro-Al-Qaeda forces actively recruit new supporters and threaten them. In addition, the situation in the Middle East, including the north and northeast of the Syrian Arab Republic, remains very difficult. A high level of terrorist threats also persists in the Sahel, West Africa and Southeast Asia.
In this regard, there is an urgent need to unite the efforts of all states in countering terrorism with strict compliance with the norms and principles of international law, including the UN Charter, with the central and coordinating role of the World Organization and taking into account the primary responsibility of states in counterterrorism.
The Russian Federation has consistently advocated strict compliance with the principle of inevitability of punishment reflected in UNSCR 1373, which requires States to ensure that any person involved in the financing, planning, preparation, commission or support of terrorist acts is brought to justice. This should also include more effective use of the treaties in the area of mutual legal assistance and extradition in terrorism cases, including the implementation of the "extradite or prosecute" principle, as well as the inadmissibility of the classification of terrorism as a political offence for extradition purposes.
We believe that the potential of the GCTF as an informal and flexible inter-State platform uniting counter-terrorism practitioners should continue to be in demand for the exchange of views and the search for possible ways of solving current problems in this area. We are convinced that the Forum should remain as depoliticized and practice-oriented as possible, functioning on the basis of the principle of consensus and playing a subsidiary role to the United Nations. In this regard, the long-standing trend towards prioritizing topics in the Forum's work that have very little to do with anti-terrorism proper is cause for a serious concern.
First of all, the abundance of initiatives implemented in the GCTF in the field of combating so-called "violent extremism" draws attention. At present, even among the member states of the GCTF there is no clear understanding of what "violent extremism" is, how it differs from "ordinary" extremism, what modalities of criminalization of extremist activity and what its correlation with terrorism is.
Second, the overemphasis on the role of gender (especially when applied to measures to counter so-called "violent extremism") is troubling. This area of the Forum's activities clearly cannot be at the forefront of states' counterterrorism efforts.
Third, there are also questions about the non-consensual concept of "racially and ethnically motivated violent extremism" (REMVE). On the one hand, the Russian Federation, as the country that suffered the greatest losses in World War II, is well aware of the threats posed by right-wing movements: in particular, under Russian federal law, the Russian Ministry of Justice maintains a list of extremist organizations banned in Russia, and most of these organizations fall into the ultra-right category, promoting ideas of interracial, interethnic or inter-religious discord and intolerance. On the other hand, the refusal by the Norwegian-American coordinators to include actions to rehabilitate Nazism in the scope of the REMVE is puzzling. We see double standards and a deliberate politicization of the Forum's agenda in this.
We believe that in the future the efforts of the GCTF should concentrate primarily on the more specific and less politicized law enforcement aspects of counter-terrorism (primarily in the area of criminal justice and ensuring the accountability of all those involved in terrorism).
The Russian Federation expresses its gratitude to the outgoing Canadian-Moroccan co-chairmanship and expects the successors to carry out their duties in the most impartial and fully committed manner.
Thank you for your attention.