Statement of the U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia, Jess L. Baily on Countering Violent Extremism

Thank you very much! As the Minister of Interior said, this is a very important issue. As many of you know, in 2014 President Obama hosted a Leaders’ Summit at the United Nations to talk about this very issue. Secretary Kerry recently said: “The issue of violent extremism does not begin on battle fields and distant lands, it begins in neighborhoods, in homes, in classrooms, in workplaces.

So, this is a phenomenon that many countries confront. My country confronts it, our partners in Europe, our partners here in the Balkans – all face this problem. So, it is very important that we not only combat the issue of foreign terrorist fighters, but seek to understand the causes that drive young people toward radicalization, and then seek ways of effectively preventing it.

So that is the purpose of this study, it is to help build, to understand what drives people here in Macedonia towards this phenomenon, what compels the young person to feel that this is the way to best express their views, and then to try to do something about it, to build community resistance and effective ways to do that. At the end of the day, this is a community issue, it is an issue where community leaders, parents, teachers have to be very involved.

Remember, right now radicalization can begin in someone’s room at night on the internet. So, it is important to understand the motivations. We, at the United States Embassy are supporting Analytica on this project, but we also have other efforts with various actors to, as I say, help build community resistance. This is an important first step, and a vital step in dealing with the broader issue of countering extremism. I think this is an important study and there will be a very good discussion today.

Thank you!