Matvienko: National parliaments and international organisations should play an important role in the fight against terrorism

Chair of the Federation Council and Chair of the CIS IPA Council Valentina Matvienko opened the Conference on Countering International Terrorism.

Chair of the Federation Council and Chair of the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly Council Valentina Matvienko spoke at the opening of the Conference on Countering International Terrorism, held at the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly in St Petersburg.

Valentina Matvienko thanked representatives of major international organisations that had co-sponsored the conference. “Today, international terrorism is the real ‘worldwide evil’ and a deadly disease that penetrates all corners of the world, bringing along pain, suffering and destruction,” she said.

She believes that it represents the biggest threat to modern civilisation since the end of World War II. Terror has no borders and has no ethnicity. It is aimed against all countries and peoples without exception. “No one can fight terrorism single-handedly. We should form a united front. Terrorists cannot be divided into ‘ours’ and ‘someone else’s’; we should cast aside all differences and disputes for the sake of the common cause,” she stressed.

According to Valentina Matvienko, national parliaments and leading international organisations should play an important role in this respect. Everything must be done to prevent conditions conducive to the germination and support of terrorism from taking shape, she said. “States with a high level of poverty, unemployment and corruption are the primary magnets for terrorists. It is there that interfaith or interethnic conflicts spring up sooner or later and the shoots of a radical, misanthropic ideology grow.”

She emphasised that it was impossible to establish a security system solely for a single country at the expense of other states and replace the principles of universal security. “If we want to do away with the terrorist threat once and for all, we should first of all cease to divide the terrorists into ‘bad’ and ‘good’ guys and rally in the face of the common threat.”

Valentina Matvienko declared that Russia had always advocated the creation of a broad international antiterrorist coalition on a firm legal basis without politicisation and the notorious double standards. “What we need is to use in full measure the potential of the institutions designed to counteract the terrorist threat, which already operate in the Commonwealth of Independent States. I am primarily referring to the CIS Antiterrorist Centre. We are focusing on how to coordinate national legal systems and form model legislation within the framework of the CIS IPA.”

She reminded her audience that Russia historically was a multiethnic and multifaith state. “Accord and peace between members of different faiths is a distinctive feature of Russian statehood.”

Valentina Matvienko noted that the joint efforts by government agencies, religious and public organisations in Russia were paying off. The number of terrorist crimes has declined almost 99% over the last 10 years.

“The fight against terrorism should not be conducted with weapons alone. A no less important front is the hearts and minds of our young people,” she said.

In this connection, Valentina Matvienko believes that cooperation between national parliaments and inter-parliamentary organisations can yield good results. “We should work together in a more vigorous way to prevent web resources from being used to disseminate extremist ideas; legislation must also be improved to cut short the funding of terrorism,” she said.

According to Valentina Matvienko, the holding of the World Conference on Interfaith and Interethnic Dialogue in 2020 could give a powerful impetus to further cooperation. Made at the 137th IPU Assembly in St Petersburg, a proposal to this effect was approved by the UN. The 140th IPU Assembly officially supported the decision to hold this global conference in Russia, she said.

“An open dialogue between representatives of world religious organisations, heads of state and members of parliament will help us to better understand each other and pool efforts in the fight against common global challenges,” Valentina Matvienko said.

Alexander Bortnikov, Chair of the Council of Heads of Security Agencies of CIS Intelligence Agencies and Director of Russia’s Federal Security Service, said that modern terrorism remained one of the most dangerous global threats. He mentioned the fact that Russia had been among the first to face manifestations of international terrorism. “The establishment of a national antiterrorist system was a fitting response to new challenges and threats. The National Antiterrorist Committee, which coordinates the activities of all relevant government agencies and organisations, plays a key role in this system.”

Today, one can say confidently that the Russian record of multidimensional, comprehensive efforts to counter terrorism is a success. The legal infrastructure in this sphere continues to improve, Alexander Bortnikov added.

According to Bortnikov, no state under the current circumstances can protect its citizens from the danger of international terrorism on its own. “Today, the world community is facing an important mission of consolidating its antiterrorist efforts. For it to be a success, our country has put forward an important initiative to establish a unified community of security services and law enforcement agencies.”

In her remarks, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Liliane Maury Pasquier expressed confidence that continuous and consistent work to raise public awareness of illegal acts perpetrated by members of terrorist groups was one of the measures that could check the spread of terrorism. “We must use all media and testimonies by victims of terrorism. It is necessary to fight those who disseminate violence and hatred,” she said, stressing the importance of strengthening cooperation between members of the world community and using the available best practices in that area.

UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime Yury Fedotov addressed the plenary meeting, as did Speaker of the Senate of Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan Dariga Nazarbayeva, Chair of the Executive Committee and CIS Executive Secretary Sergei Lebedev, Speaker of the Zhogorku Kenesh of the Kyrgyz Republic Dastanbek Dzhumabekov, Chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on Countering Terrorism Makis Voridis, Speaker of the Majlisi namoyandagon Majlisi Oli of the Republic of Tajikistan Shukurjon Zukhurov, Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Terrorism of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean Gennaro Migliore, Speaker of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan Nigmatilla Yuldashev, Acting Secretary-General of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation Valery Semerikov, First Deputy Speaker of the State Duma Ivan Melnikov, Head of the Antiterrorist Centre of the CIS Member-States Andrei Novikov, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia Alen Simonyan, Chair of the Committee on Legal Policy and State Building of the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ali Guseinli, and Chair of the Standing Commission on National Security of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus Valentin Mikhnevich, as well as parliamentarians and representatives of international organisations.

The participants discussed the role and importance of international institutions in countering terrorism, preventing the use of internet technologies to disseminate extremist ideas, and streamlining legislation to prosecute terrorists and cut short their funding.