Final Declaration from Nordic ministerial meeting on the establishment of a network for the preventing of extremism

Ministry of the Interior 14.1.2014 11.05
News item

Adopted by Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden in Copenhagen on 13 January, 2014

The threat picture in the Nordic countries

The Nordic nations are built on a strong democratic foundation characterised by civil rights, a high degree of social participation, respect for the individual and room for diversity.

Democratic societies emphasise open dialogue, where attitudes and opinions can be expressed in public without the risk of reprisals. It is through the citizens' freedom to form opinions and the exchange of ideas that a society may find solutions across divergent opinions and facilitate change.

In the Nordic countries the threat picture in relation to violent extremist circles is dynamic and complex.

There are radicalised individuals and groups in the Nordic countries who are unwilling to accept the principles of democracy, who display intolerance towards other people's views, freedoms and rights, and who are ready to use violence or threats of violence to achieve ideological goals which may undermine the democratic structures of society.

The threat against democracy must be taken seriously, whether it comes from political right- or left-wing extremist circles or militant Islamist groups. Therefore it is important that we make an effort to strengthen and continue to protect our democracy.

New challenges

The tendency in recent years has especially been for militant Islamist groups to call for the planning and execution of solo acts of terrorism against easily accessible targets. Such incitement from militant Islamist groups may also inspire individuals from the Nordic countries to carry out solo attacks with simple means. In addition, the attack in Norway on 22 July, 2011, could inspire like-minded right-wing extremists in other European countries, including the Nordic countries, to carry out similar attacks.

Armed conflicts abroad, and at the moment especially the one in Syria, attract individuals residing in the West, including Nordic citizens. This increases the risk that individuals who have returned from such conflict zones will actively seek to recruit others for armed combat, or use their acquired military skills for terrorist activities in the Nordic countries.

Finally, a considerable and growing radicalisation is taking place over the Internet. Extremist circles use the Internet as a tool for organising themselves, spreading propaganda, identifying, recruiting and training potential followers, as well as for planning and coordinating concrete actions. The exchange of extremist materials is not only confined to closed discussion forums, but occurs increasingly in the open social media.

The necessity of a strong Nordic collaboration

Extremist actions, whether in the form of threats or concrete acts of violence, are unacceptable in a democratic society and must be prevented with all legal means.

The Nordic countries have for several years worked for an effective prevention of extremism. Initiatives include early preventive efforts, with direct interventions targeted at young persons who are vulnerable to radicalisation or persons who are involved in extremist circles, as well as exit strategies to help individuals break out of extremist networks.

Over the years, each of the Nordic countries has acquired extensive know-how in the prevention of extremism, and a more systematic sharing of this knowledge with the other countries would be beneficial. At the same time, the Nordic countries are facing new common challenges which call for targeted efforts. A strengthened Nordic collaboration to develop effective methods would also qualify this development work further.

The Nordic countries agree to systematise their collaborative effort to prevent extremism, through the establishment of a formal Nordic network. The objective of the network will be to strengthen the knowledge sharing between the Nordic countries, e.g. in relation to research and method development, as well as to strengthen the exchange of experience concerning the implementation of preventive efforts, including the involvement of civil society actors and other local collaboration partners.

The Nordic countries agree to establish a formal network for the prevention of extremism. In this connection, the Nordic countries will jointly draw up a collaborative agreement during this calendar year, with a description of the objectives and contents of the network. The agreement will be entered into at a meeting between the Nordic countries in the Autumn 2014.
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