The Middle East/North Africa region and Europe are linked more now than ever, said IPI President Terje Rød-Larsen during IPI MENA’s first annual advisory council meeting on January 20, 2016. The meeting was attended by members of the diplomatic and business communities, representatives from Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths, and civil society activists.
Mr. Rød-Larsen said that the rise of radical ideologies—similar to Europe’s Nazi, fascist and Stalinist movements in the 20th century—are leading to increasing religious polarization in Europe. The triple threat of violent extremism, desperate migration and regional instability, he said, can be countered with a three-pronged approach of regional cooperation, prevention and protection.
IPI’s President further stressed the importance of bringing key regional players together as a means to develop regional cooperation, noting the irony that the MENA region does not have a prominent seat in the Iran negotiations with the Permanent 5 members.
Mr. Rød-Larsen introduced the regional integration initiative that IPI, in partnership with the World Bank, will launch in the coming months. The homegrown initiative will take the form of a task force, involving regional leaders with its secretariat at IPI, MENA.
Nejib Friji, IPI MENA Director, briefed the audience on the activities undertaken in 2015, and introduced the key projects for 2016, including the regional integration task force, an interreligious dialogue initiative, Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) task force, a series of workshops on the themes of protest, unrest and state-society relations, and preserving world heritage in armed conflict.
In addition, IPI MENA will host regular conferences and presentations with distinguished speakers under IPI’s “Global Leaders” program.
Participants engaged into a substantive discussion on the submitted agenda items.