Lebanon and EU hold highlevel meeting on counterterrorism

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants and the European Union held today a high-level meeting on counter-terrorism.

The meeting was co-chaired by the Secretary General a.i. and Director of Political and Consular Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Ambassador Charbel Wehbi, and the EU-Counter Terrorism Coordinator Mr. Gilles de Kerchove, in the presence of Ambassador Christina Lassen, Head of the Delegation of the European Union. Experts in counter-terrorism from the EU, EU Member States and CEPOL (European Agency for Law Enforcement Training), as well as representatives of the Lebanese Parliament, concerned ministries, security agencies and civil society, attended the meeting.

This meeting aimed at assisting Lebanon in adopting a national counter-terrorism strategy which will lead to enhanced security in Lebanon and in Europe. Following the launching of the Lebanon-EU counter-terrorism dialogue in January 2016, both parties have agreed to join efforts in combating terrorism.

Presentations highlighted two key elements in particular: first, the need to develop a strategy which reflects concerns of all key actors involved in prevention of violent extremism; and second, the EU side underlined the need for a single Lebanese coordinating body that can oversee the implementation of the strategy.

Following the high-level meeting, Lebanon will exert efforts to accelerate the development of a national counter-terrorism strategy through the establishment of a joint working group (involving all relevant State bodies and civil society) to draft a strategy document.

The EU reaffirms its strong commitment to extending support to the Lebanese authorities, including through all relevant EU agencies, and instruments including the RAN (Radicalisation Awareness Network) to enable Lebanon to benefit from all relevant EU expertise in the development of the national counter-terrorism strategy.

Ambassador Charbel Wehbi said: “Our aspiration to cooperating with the EU and its Member States stems from our conviction that the common threat is one and the shared interest is one. We are facing today a large number of emerging challenges that are being exacerbated by the migration and displacement movement across international borders, among new international challenges that are increasing.”

“With this meeting, we are further strengthening the strong cooperation between Europe and Lebanon to face our joint challenge of terrorism. We do this because we see Lebanon as a key partner in the fight against terrorism,” said Ambassador Lassen.

For his part, Mr. Gilles de Kerchove paid tribute “to the recent efforts of the Lebanese security services in deterring attacks by terrorist groups, particularly Daesh.” “Based on my experience, I believe any strategy must have the support of all relevant bodies, not just security services but also civil society groups, and those that are best placed to detect the risk of radicalisation in communities,” he added.