Remarks at the Opening Ceremony of the GCTF Workshop on Soft Target Protection

Chargé d'affaires Adam Shub

March 30, 2017

Remarks by Chargé d’Affaires Adam Shub
Opening Ceremony of the Global Counterterrorism Forum Workshop on Soft Target Protection
Brussels, Belgium

Good morning. It is a pleasure to be here today at the beginning of this regional Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) workshop on soft target protection. I would like to thank Turkey for co-leading this important initiative with us and for serving as our co-moderator today.

Thank you to the European Commission for hosting us. It was the tragic attacks here in Brussels, as well as in Paris, Istanbul, Bamako, Orlando, Grand-Bassam, Ouagadougou, and elsewhere, that prompted this initiative to share expertise and develop global good practices for protecting soft targets.

Since the launch of this initiative last December in Antalya, the European Commission has been an indispensable partner on this initiative. Regrettably, we have fresh reminders of the urgency of our work from both Indonesia and the United Kingdom.

On behalf of the United States, let me offer our condolences to the British people in light of the most recent attack in Manchester. This attack is among the latest of too many tragic attacks against soft targets.

I’m very pleased that we have partners under the auspices of the GCTF to explore this timely and crucially important challenge we all face.

Through a series of regional workshops, including this meeting, we have been developing a set of internationally-recognized, non-binding global good practices to guide international engagement, assistance, and training to enhance the security and resilience of potential soft targets.

We are pleased to have you – the expert practitioners – here for the last workshop to share your experiences and know-how, as we work toward a set of global good practices for better protecting our malls, stadiums, restaurants and other public spaces.

In Europe and elsewhere, the targets have included places where we have all felt safe before: religious centers, tourist sites, public transportation, business facilities, hotels, restaurants, stadiums, and entertainment venues.  These are places where people congregate to shop, dine, and conduct business, and all are potentially vulnerable to terrorist attacks due to their open access and limited – or in some cases – non-existent security barriers.

This past year has been a tumultuous one in the fight against violent extremism and terrorism, and we fully support the steps the EU has taken to bolster security practices across all Member States. By working together, we have made important progress on the ground in countering terrorist groups, including ISIS, al-Qa’ida, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, as well as their lone-offender imitators and affiliates.

With this new wave of organized attacks on civilians, we face not just these organized, identifiable organizations, but also the threat posed by returning foreign terrorist fighters to our countries.

Since the launch of this initiative last year, we’ve held workshops in Turkey, Singapore and Senegal. It is clear that this series of workshops promotes a learning environment through the sharing of experiences and insights, and will help to identify good practices that offer important insights and effective strategies to improve preparedness for such attacks.

Going forward, these global good practices can serve as the basis for international engagement, assistance, and training to enhance the security and resilience of sites that are potential soft targets.

I want to thank all of you for your participation in this week’s workshop. The increase in soft target attacks is something that threatens all of our countries.  Addressing this threat requires collaborative and innovative approaches.  It is our responsibility as a global community to find solutions to help each other protect our most valuable treasure – our people.

Now I am pleased to hand the floor over to Turkish Ambassador Kaymakci. Thank you very much.