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Mr. Chairman. Thank you for your condolences and your support. And through you, Mr. Chairman, I wish to thank my colleagues around this table for the condolences they have conveyed through me to the families of the many Americans who lost their lives in Tuesday's tragedies.
The decision we have just taken -- to fly the flags of all 55 OSCE States at half-staff on September 14 -- sends a signal of solidarity and resolve in this time of grief. We have taken careful note of the ideas presented this morning by the Russian Federation. We look forward to working with our Russian colleagues as well as with others around this table to see how we might use the tools of the OSCE to further our fight against terror.
For many of you, these attacks are, indeed, a personal tragedy. Virtually all of you have visited New York and Washington. Many of you have lived in one or both of these cities and think of them as a second home. Speaking personally, the solidarity of this week was to me most clearly spoken by German Chancellor Schroeder on September 12. He recalled the time immediately after the construction of the Berlin Wall, when the late President Kennedy told the world "Ich bin ein Berliner." Chancellor Schroeder then said that, today, "we are all Americans."
From now on, September 11 will be remembered as a dark day in America's history. The American people, our institutions, our symbols, and even our idea of a free society were attacked by evil. We were attacked not for what we did or did not do but for who we are - a free, open society, and what we believe - that freedom is the birthright of all humanity.
The photos we have seen this week are seared in our minds. Thousands of Americans lost their lives. The horror they endured and the pain inflicted on their families will never be forgotten. Tuesday's tragedies profoundly injured every American. Though two days have now elapsed since these attacks, our emotions remain brittle and the reality of this horror difficult to face.
While we saw evil visit our country Tuesday, we also saw America at its best. Police officers, firefighters, and plain, ordinary folks responded to the needs they saw. The death toll in New York among these very special people continues to rise and stories of heroism mount. We are profoundly touched by the idea that aircraft passengers over Pennsylvania, upon learning of the attacks that already had taken place, apparently took a vote to sacrifice their own lives rather than risk becoming part of an even larger tragedy.
America is a nation of religious freedom; it has room for the non-believer and room for believers of all kinds. It is this very diversity which unites us. But we need to be very clear: These attacks were not the acts of religious zealots; these were the acts of savages.
Today, we don't know who visited this evil upon America. The search is underway to find those responsible and leads are being developed. When the culprits are found, they will be punished. And as President Bush said Tuesday night, "We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them."
We are deeply grateful for the step our Allies took yesterday to invoke Article 5 of the Washington Treaty with respect to these attacks. Such an action makes clear that in our confrontation with terror there can be no shades of gray; this is an issue of black and white.
America is grateful for the condolences of all the states seated around this table in our hour of tragedy. Today's action in this Council signals to us that, when the culprits are identified and the time comes to act to confront them, we can count on your support in that hour as well.
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