September 11, 2001 : Attack on America
Statement On The Bishkek International Conference Delivered by Ambassador Stephan M. Minikes to the Permanent Council, Vienna; December 20, 2001

United States Mission to the OSCE
Statement On The Bishkek International Conference
Delivered by Ambassador Stephan M. Minikes to the Permanent Council, Vienna December 20, 2001

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would like to thank once again our Kyrgyz hosts and Ambassador Hoeynck for their efforts in putting on a useful and very timely conference. The meetings in Bishkek brought interested parties, substantive experts and concrete proposals together. We believe it was an important contributory element in the global fight against terrorism. The challenge that now lies before us is to transform the discussions into quantifiable actions. The success of the conference, after all, will not be measured by the documents produced, but by the implementation of the proposals generated in Bishkek, as well as those our Ministers agreed to in Bucharest.

We must move immediately to implement the provisions of the UN conventions and protocols regarding terrorism. We must work to sever terrorists' financial lifelines, improve cooperation among law enforcement agencies and financial institutions, and implement internationally accepted principles of financial transparency and accountability.

Terrorists frequently use the existence of economic deprivation, political oppression, and social inequality to justify their murderous acts. Such conditions, to be sure, are all too common. However, they can never excuse acts of physical and psychological violence against innocent non-combatants. Many members of the international community have come to accept the principle that terrorism is a crime, and that states and individuals that assist terrorists in any way are equally guilty. We must ensure that terrorists and their sponsors face swift retribution for their offenses against humanity. We will continue to reject any efforts to use terrorists' political or religious motivations to rationalize or explain away bombings, assassinations, hijackings and other forms of terrorist violence.

We must also do all we can to take preventative measures against terrorism. We must ensure that our societies are ones in which terrorists cannot thrive, that our societies are ones in which human rights are respected, and in which rule of law, freedom of expression, tolerance, and democracy strengthen stability. As so many noted in Bishkek, societies of inclusion, with economic opportunities for all, pluralistic debate, a political commitment to conflict resolution, and where integration does not mean losing one's identity, are those where extremists have the least chance of generating sympathy and support from the moderate majority.

Preventative measures play to the OSCE's strength: its comprehensive approach to security, and the active engagement of the Human and Economic and Environmental Dimensions. Fighting terrorism is not -- as Ambassador De Fonblanque noted -- just about security policy and firm legal action. It is about providing a forum where grievances and perceived grievances can be aired. Such a forum might be an open political dialogue or a transparent debate conducted via a free and independent media. Impartial and democratic judiciaries are also essential by providing a forum for aggrieved parties to seek relief.

Combating terrorism cannot be done effectively unless protection of civil rights, rule of law and democracy are either instituted, preserved or strengthened. A strong civil society, where NGOs are able to function freely, is tremendously important in this regard.

Finally, preventative steps to combat terrorism must include economic measures -- not just those that choke off terrorist financing, but also those that provide the foundation for economic and business development. All members of society ought to feel free that they have the chance for economic self-betterment; the inability to play in the mainstream economy is but one of the factors that leads to feelings of disenfranchisement which in turn may engender support for extremist causes.

In Bishkek we outlined an ambitious course of action with concrete steps which -- if taken -- and I would like to reemphasize "if taken" -- can make a real contribution to the fight against terrorism and to bolstering security and stability. The real challenge is before us: making good on our commitments and ideas. I look forward to all of us getting together to work on this right away.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

U.S. Government Website

September 11 Page

127 Wall Street, New Haven, CT 06511.