Colin Powell Remarks to Seeds of Peace 14/8/2001
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman For Immediate Release August 14, 2001 As Delivered
REMARKS BY SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN L. POWELL TO SEEDS OF PEACE
Dean Acheson Auditorium Department of State August 14, 2001
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much for that kind introduction, John. It is a great pleasure to be with you all this afternoon. And let me begin by congratulating you for your vision and inspiration as we have brought this program along.
Let me also say it was very moving to be received by the Seeds of Peace graduating class with that anthem, that song that you sing that is so moving, so meaningful and brings you together once again as a group of youngsters every time you sing it. Dedicated to peace and dedicated to the end of war, dedicated to doing everything you can in your young power, which in due course will become adult power, to remove the causes of conflict and remove the reasons that we still see man's inhumanity against man practiced throughout the world.
So I am pleased to be with you. And I was also deeply moved by the testimony we have just received from the three youngsters. And I am sure that if time permitted, each and every one of the graduates could give a similar statement of their experience, their background and what they have gained from this wonderful program, where youngsters brought from all over can share with one another, can share your anxieties, can share your concerns, and can share what it means to be friends, can gain in that friendship and through that friendship prepare yourselves for the roles that you will be playing when you go back to your nations.
So I welcome you all here to the Department of State this afternoon. I congratulate all 160 campers. As was noted, Egyptians, Israelis, Jordanians, Palestinians, Qataris, Tunisians, Cypriots, Greeks, Turks, Kosovars, Macedonians, Yugoslavs, Americans, all together. I also express my thanks to the other VIPs who are here, the assembled ambassadors, diplomats, colleagues and friends of Seeds of Peace.
What is happening in the Middle East today makes it even more important that you have dedicated yourself to this program, and even more important that you take this message of peace and reconciliation back to your homes. Since its inception, Seeds of Peace and you here present and your predecessors have helped us understand that peace is possible. If only we can end the violence, if only we can break down the barriers that exist, the barriers of hatred and distrust. And sometimes as we look around the world, and especially when we look at the Middle East, we wonder if that will ever happen.
I am before you today as Secretary of State but for most of my life, as you know, I was a soldier, a soldier who was committed to defending his nation, to preserve the peace, but who was also forced to go to war and to prepare for war. And I've seen in the last ten or 12 years what can happen when you get those conflicts behind you.
I see myself now working with nations that just 12 years ago were my most deep enemies, nations I was prepared to destroy if that was necessary. And now, I see them as friends, nations that we are working with. Just today in Macedonia, we see new promise as an agreement was signed between parties in dispute, an agreement that could have been overthrown in the last couple of days by violence but they did not let violence overtake this agreement. And the road ahead is still very, very difficult. But at least we have a step toward peace in Macedonia. So we can't give up hope.
We have seen terrible situations turn for the better. We have seen promise come out of chaos. In the anthem that you sang a little while ago, you said we stand hand in hand as we watch the bricks fall. We've learned from the past and fear not what's ahead. It's very good. It's a good emotion. It is something to take into your heart and carry with you for the rest of your lives.
I commend you for your courage and your daring to believe that no matter how bad at times things can get, no matter how bad things become, a brighter future still is possible if we believe, if we dream and if we work at it. Your experiences in Seeds of Peace give real content to what peace between peoples can really mean in practice. Seeds has equipped you with the skills and tools to listen, not preach; to teach, not lecture.
Most important of all, it has shown you how to share what you have felt and what you have learned with others. Looking at all of you, it is easier for me and others of my generation to envision a Cyprus, a Middle East and a Balkans free of conflict, to envision that a web of personal and economic ties will one day replace mistrust and misunderstanding, to envision a time where friendships such as those you have made at Seeds are the norm and not the exception; where young people of different ethnic backgrounds can grow up to be good neighbors, to be friends, to share one another, to share your dreams together and to pursue those dreams.
Like each of you, the young man we heard about earlier, Yuseel Asla, was a Seed of Peace. He lost his life last October, but he remains an enduring symbol of hope. He embodied the Seeds' ideals of promoting understanding and a peaceful coexistence. He was a sensitive, caring, articulate young leader, fighting the legacy of hatred to build a brighter future for Arabs and Israelis alike.
Tragically, he did not live to see the future he dreamed of. But each and every one of you will and must carry on for him, be inspired by his memory so that you will help create the future he wanted so much to be a part of, but tragically will not. Like all of you, President Bush and I believe that his vision is attainable, not just a wonderful dream but attainable. And like you, we will keep working hard at peace.
The question was raised by the young man who spoke just a moment ago as to what we can do, what can be done, what is the United States doing. We are deeply engaged in this process. We are trying to find bridges to cross the divides that have existed for so many years and have become especially severe in recent months. We are working with both sides, lending our good offices, talking to leaders of the international community, in close contact with both sides, trying to find ways that we can restore a sense of trust and confidence between the two sides, getting them to talk directly to one another, with our good offices, with our assistance.
I can assure you that I and my colleagues in the State Department take this charge very, very seriously, do everything we can to bring a secure environment to that troubled part of the world and out of that secure environment begin negotiations again that can lead us to a lasting, permanent solution so these two peoples can find a way to live and share this blessed land.
I need your help. I need your help as you go back home. I need your help to go back and talk to your family members and your friends. I need your help to go back and give witness to what you have learned in camp, to give witness to the reality that if you talk to one another, if you get inside each other's dreams and ambitions, you can find ways of bridging the differences, you can find ways forward.
I will never give up the struggle. I will never give up the quest to find the solution for this troubled region. I will do that because I have seen what war can do. I know what war can do. I have been in war. I do that because I do have a deep commitment to young people. I know the future that you want, the future that you need, the future that you must have. Not a future of conflict, not a future of killing one another, not a future of hating one another, but a future of loving one another, a future of friendship, a future where you can take advantage of the wonderful opportunities that the 21st century holds. And I want to assure you today that President Bush is committed to that future, as am I.
I want to thank the leaders of Seeds of Peace for what they have done in bringing you together. A seed is a wonderful metaphor for what you are. People who will not be frozen out of action in a cold winter or allow the heat of summer to keep you from blossoming forth into something beautiful.
And so, for each and every one of you, I wish you the very, very best. I thank you for your commitment to peace, and I charge each and every one of you to take the promise that you have in your own being back to your communities, back to your families, and spread and grow and help the adults in your lives bring peace to the regions that you represent. Thank you so very much. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: If any of you have questions, if you would go to the microphones. We've only got time for two questions. You've got to go to the microphone, and we should keep this on the Middle East. On the Middle East, okay?
Please, tell us who you are and where you're from.
QUESTION: My name is Ferid Daoud. I'm from Israel. I'm a Palestinian-Israeli. For the last 50 years or 60 years, America has been a very strong country, has been a peacemaker, a peacekeeper, and very powerful, as I said.
Don't you think it's about time that the Palestinian people get their independence, as it's the only solution or a guarantee for peace in the Middle East under the power or the help of USA, and how do you see it? What do you think about it?
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, what I would like to see is a return to negotiations so that the two sides can determine what the proper answer is for them to share this land together. And the United States has lent its good offices for many, many years to that end, and for a number of years, the last 10 years really, beginning with the Madrid Conference after the Gulf War, where I was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. We saw progress.
But unfortunately, last year and early into this year, that progress came to a halt with respect to those negotiations, and we saw a breakdown in security and violence breaking out. And so the challenge before us right now is to never lose sight of getting back to negotiations, negotiations on the basis of the appropriate UN resolutions 242 and 338, that's a given. But before we can get back to those negotiations which lead us to that conclusion, we have to restore a sense of security so that there is confidence, and people can begin sharing with one another and talking with one another and not worrying about the kind of violence we are seeing.
And that remains the United States' principal objective right now, but never losing sight of the ultimate answer, which is negotiations. We believe that the plan that was put forth by Senator Mitchell and his colleagues, the Mitchell Plan, gives us a roadmap to do that, and it begins with ending the violence, the restoration of trust through confidence-building measures, and then ultimately beginning negotiations again to end up at the point that both parties believe is appropriate and proper. And that is what a negotiation is for, to see what the two sides will agree to under the auspices of -- with the United States' help -- the auspices of the United States, and other organizations, but consistent with the UN resolutions that have been passed for many, many years, and provide the basis for a final solution.
QUESTION: I would just like to ask you -- I'm Jamal, Jamal from Palestine. I would just like to know why America declared a veto in the UN against the issue of sending an international investigation inquiry to the region. I mean, this would only show people that Israel would have things that they wouldn't show the world that they are doing in the region, for example, like war crimes and genocide against Palestinians, but also show the world that maybe America is like pro- Israeli. So why would America declare this veto against sending the international inquiry?
And another thing I would like to know is what is America's position right now against Israel using ammunition and armory made in the USA that is internationally illegal, like nerve gas and radioactive heavy ammunition against innocent civilians? So what's America's position against this?
SECRETARY POWELL: On the second question, I am not aware of any use of nerve gas on the part of the Israeli Government or the kinds of systems or weapons you suspect or suggest are illegal under international convention.
With respect to the resolution, sending international observers at this time, when there is still a conflict that is under way, and the two sides do not agree to the presence of international observers, I don't think is a way to move forward. And to send in, particularly under the way in which you suggested it, to go in and find out what one side is doing doesn't make them monitors or observers; it makes them something else. And what we have suggested is that if we can get into the Mitchell peace plan and start the implementation of this peace plan, and if both sides agree that monitors would be helpful in moving this plan forward, then the United States is willing to play a role in the provision of some number of monitors.
But right now, international monitors is not an idea that has been accepted by both sides, and unless you are planning to send in an international force to suppress the whole thing, which is not anything the international community is prepared to do, you have to get the acceptance of both sides, and it has to make some sense. It can't just be an observer force or investigative force that is going in to help just one side against the other.
The United States is for peace. The United States is working with both sides. I talk to both sides on a daily basis in order to try to bridge these differences, and we are trying to play the role of a facilitator, somebody who is trying to represent the interests of both sides as we try to find a way to move forward.
Thank you very much, but I do have to get to another appointment. Thank you.