September 11, 2001 : Attack on America
Remarks By Alexander Vershbow, U.S. Ambassador To The Russian Federation, At The Annual Council Of Europe Justice Ministers' Conference; October 4, 2001

Moscow, Russia
October 4, 2001
Remarks By Alexander Vershbow, U.s. Ambassador To The Russian Federation, At The Annual Council Of Europe Justice Ministers' Conference

(as prepared for delivery)

I would like to thank the Council of Europe for inviting me to speak on behalf of my government to this distinguished group of Justice Ministers. The United States values its relationship with the Council of Europe not only by the observer status that you granted us in 1996, but now again with this invitation to address the Justice Ministers of the 43 member states in this conference.

I would very much like to thank the Council of Europe for its expressions of determination to cooperate in the fight against terrorism. Resolution 1258 and Recommendation 1534, both adopted only a week ago, presented to the United States of America the Council of Europe's firm condemnation of these "barbaric attacks."

One of the main reasons for the Council of Europe's existence is to defend human rights and as you so eloquently put it in Resolution 1258, these attacks violated "the most fundamental of human rights: the right to life."

The September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States have had repercussions around the globe, and the member states of the Council of Europe were unfortunately not spared the consequences of these acts of terrorism. Twenty-two Council of Europe member states lost nationals in the attack on the World Trade Center.

The terrorist attacks that took place in the United States have forced us to reexamine our approach to terrorism in every way.

Now more than ever before we must work together in a broad coalition of states that respect the rule of law, that believe in democracy and individual freedoms.

We believe that the fight against terrorism will require many different kinds of weapons - diplomatic, military, financial, economic - but it cannot be won if we do not also use our powerful legal weapons.

Justice ministers can and must play a central role in this fight. If we are to defeat the terrorists, we must all help each other. We must share intelligence, strengthen the cooperation of our law enforcement agencies, and stop the financial transactions that support the terrorists.

Our assault on international terrorism must be joint and it must be global. Terrorists do not respect national boundaries, and their crimes leave a trail around the world, therefore our fight must involve cooperation across borders.

The United States has frozen the US-located assets of 27 terrorist groups. Countries abroad, under their own legal authority, have also frozen a significant amount in assets linked to terrorist groups. As President Bush said earlier this week: "And we're just beginning."

The steps we take together across a broad spectrum of activity -- financial, law enforcement, diplomatic, and military -- are necessary to protect our societies from the terrorism. They are necessary to protect our freedoms, our choices, our way of life. They are all part of a strategy of self-defense that we must implement.

Finally, I would like to say a word about the Council of Europe's Cybercrime Convention. In our view the legal mechanisms in the Convention can play an important role in our common fight against international terrorism. We must pursue the terrorists in every arena in which they operate, and cyberspace is no exception.

Existing U.S. law already covers the substantive offenses to be established under the Convention and already empowers U.S. law enforcement officials to take the steps called for by the Convention to preserve and obtain evidence. However, it is important that other countries also address these offenses in an urgent and serious way, and similarly empower law enforcement officials, so that the Convention may help deny safe havens to terrorists and other criminals who can cause damage from outside the borders of the target country, wherever it may be.

Thank you very much.

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