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Powell Remarks following the OSCE Min. Council

Powell Remarks following the OSCE Ministerial Council


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman (Ankara, Turkey) For Immediate Release December 4, 2001

Remarks By Secretary Of State Colin L. Powell Following The OSCE Ministerial Council

Bucharest, Romania December 4, 2001

Thank you Mr. Chairman,

Mr. Chairman, distinguished colleagues, it is a pleasure to be in Bucharest for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Ministerial Council. Foreign Minister Geoana, I welcome this occasion to thank you here in your home for your outstanding leadership over the past year of our work. I also want to take a point of privilege at this time to thank the U.S. Ambassador here, David Johnson, for his extraordinary work as head of the United States delegation over the past three years. He will be moving on, and I have brought with me in my plane this morning -- so there would absolutely no gap -- the new Ambassador to OSCE, Ambassador Steve Minikes whom I swore in last week so that he would be available for this important assignment. Steve, would you just stand up briefly so everybody can see you; and David, would you mind standing up as well (inaudible). Applause.

This Ministerial is my first stop on a long trip throughout the region. From here I go to Turkey, from Turkey to Brussels for NATO Ministerial meetings, and then on to Uzbekistan, Kyrgizstan, Kazahkstan, Russia, Germany, France and Great Britain. The OSCE, however, is the right place to start because all the countries on my itinerary have representatives here today.

As all United States Administrations have done since President Gerald Ford, the Bush Administration values the OSCE as a critical link that binds the United States to Europe and to Eurasia. We see our membership in the OSCE as complementing and reinforcing our strong bilateral ties with European and Eurasian countries, our membership in NATO, and our relationship with the European Union. This organization embraces a wide-range of ethnicities, traditions and histories. More importantly, it reflects our common embrace of democratic and market principals and our common commitment to peace and stability. In short, the OSCE encompasses the hopes that all of us share for a Europe that is fully whole and free.

Twenty-six years ago the original signatories of the Helsinki Final Act recognized that respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is inextricably linked to prosperity and to security. That was true during the cold war. This logic was dramatically played out during the post-cold war decade that reunited Europe and transformed the world. I believe the connections between democratic values, well being, and peace are even stronger in the world we find ourselves in today -- the post-post cold war world into which we have been hurled by the terrorist attacks of September 11.

Terrorists wage war against every single one of the principles of international security and cooperation enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act. They hate and fear all that the OSCE stands for. They want to destroy the future that we are trying to build together - all of us understand this and we are taking common action.

On behalf of President Bush I want to recognize the critical contributions that OSCE participating states, individually and collectively, have already made to the worldwide coalition against terrorism. A number of states have sent forces to participate in the military campaign against the Al Qaida Terrorist network and its Taliban supporters. Some of your service men and women are in NATO aircraft helping to secure the skies over the United States. OSCE participating states have offered airspace and ground facilities, or are providing humanitarian support to the suffering Afghan people. And many governments represented here have taken steps to freeze terrorist assets, share information and strengthen border controls.

The OSCE as an institution is also playing a key role. The statement on terrorism which we will adopt is a resolute expression of our collective will. The OSCE's comprehensive action plan on terrorism, developed under the leadership of Danish Ambassador Bering and Romanian Ambassador Bota, sets forth concrete steps that each member state can take to further the global campaign. The United States fully supports the plan and looks forward to helping launch its implementation at the Conference on Terrorism in Bishkek ten days from now.

In accordance with the action plan, OSCE participating states can, and should, do more to stop the scourge of terrorism. All OSCE participating states can, and should, become party to the twelve United Nations Conventions on Terrorism and put their provisions into effect as soon as possible. All OSCE participating states can, and should, work to sever terrorists' financial lifelines. As the OSCE action plan notes, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 was a major step forward. It obligates states to freeze terrorist assets, criminalize terrorist fund-raising and join the terrorist financing convention. All OSCE participating states can, and should, take additional steps to improve cooperation among law enforcement and financial institutions. Furthermore, all of us can and should implement principles of financial transparency and accountability developed by the G-7, G-8 and the Financial Action Task Force.

Financial Action Task Force standards will help stop terrorists from raising, laundering and moving their money. Even those who are not members of the Financial Action Task Force should adopt its standards.

My government has already begun to put the Financial Action Task Force standards into operation. We are ready to provide significant resources to train other countries that seek to do the same thing.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished colleagues, beyond enacting specific measures such as those I've just mentioned, OSCE members can make invaluable contributions of another kind to the international effort against terrorism. The OSCE's pioneering work to promote respect for human rights, to foster democratic institutions and market reform, and to prevent and manage conflict are among the most far-reaching efforts that can be made to eradicate terrorism. For a world of democracy, opportunity, and stability is a world in which terrorism cannot thrive. Respect for the dignity and rights of the individual, and the strengthening of democratic institutions lead to more stable nations and a more stable world where the seeds of terrorism cannot take root and cannot grow. The rule of law, anti-corruption efforts and equal economic opportunity, give citizens confidence that they will be treated fairly, and receive justice.

By encouraging tolerance for ethnic and religious differences, and by defending the rights of citizens belonging to national minorities we deny terrorists a pretext for their self-serving violence. And so, as we press ahead with our efforts to defend our citizens against terrorism, each of us must make a renewed effort to strengthen fundamental freedoms that have been the heart and soul of the Helsinki process since its very inception.

Protecting freedoms while defending against security risks has never been an easy task. As I speak, my government is making difficult decisions to balance security needs with the protections of individual rights. On this question we all need to strike the right balance. Terrorism must be confronted, but respect for human rights, democracy and fundamental freedoms must also be preserved.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished colleagues, clearly there are many challenges ahead for all of us. But the OSCE's track record is one of determination and success. Let me now take a few minutes to reflect on OSCE's progress since the last meeting of the Ministerial Council in Vienna.

Last year Chechnya dominated discussions, as did other Russian commitments made at the 1999 Istanbul Summit. Since then, the OSCE Assistance group returned to Chechnya and began to implement its mandate. Now, there are prospects for political resolution to the conflict. A settlement will require sincere efforts by both sides. We hope that the new dialogue will continue and lead to a lasting peace. Peace in this region will not only end a bloody conflict, it would deny political cover to terrorists in Chechnya. At the same time no peace will endure, and no reconciliation can occur unless there is accountability for human rights abuses.

We see progress in other areas as well. As promised, Russia has now withdrawn excess treaty-limited equipment from Georgia. The Vaziani Base closed in accordance with agreed time-lines. In light of recent border incidents, I want to reaffirm U.S. support for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity. We encourage Russia and Georgia to resolve remaining issues, including the status of the base at Gudauta. This should be done as quickly as possible in a manner consistent with the principle host-nation consent to the presence of foreign forces and with full international transparency.

Russia completed, more than a month early, its commitment to withdraw all its treaty-limited equipment from Moldova. Withdrawal of all Russian forces from Moldova by the end of 2002 will be a major undertaking involving the disposal or withdrawal of some 42,000 tons of munitions, and tens of thousands of small arms. We must insure the secure, safe disposal or removal of this ammunition and equipment. The United States is ready to support this effort with 14 million dollars through the OSCE voluntary fund.

To succeed, this must be a common effort. I thank the Nations that have already made a commitment. I thank the Nations who have already made a commitment, and thank even more warmly those that have already contributed.

Elsewhere on the front of peace and stability we see in Macedonia that the OSCE has played a key role in implementing the political settlement. OSCE observers monitor the cease-fire; they work with the Macedonian Security Forces. NATO the European Union and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to allow families in conflict areas to go home in safety. The OSCE will train 1,000 new policemen to create a multi-ethnic police force. This is critical for the confidence of all parties. Put in simplest terms, the OSCE is allowing the healing to begin in Macedonia.

Kosovo's November elections are another success story for the OSCE. The elections were peaceful and orderly. There was a strong turnout. I was especially gratified at the tremendous participation of the Serbian population. The newly elected assembly can now turn towards building local democratic institutions, and OSCE will be there to help them.

In Bosnia we expect that the streamlining of the international civilian presence will mean that the OSCE will step up to new challenges. We think the OSCE should take on responsibility for police training and for monitoring when the UN police mission ends. The OSCE's tenacious and skilled efforts in all of these areas are making important headway. We all know, however, that we still have much work to do. Despite OSCE's heroic efforts led by Ambassador Weick, the head of the OSCE Mission in Belarus, the Presidential elections in Belarus did not meet international standards. The Government of Belarus ignored the recommendations of the OSCE on what conditions would need to be established in order for free and fair elections to take place. It is unfortunate, indeed, that the government of Belarus continues to act in a manner that excludes Belarus from the mainstream of European political life. We will continue to work with our fellow OSCE states to support development of genuine democratic institutions and a strong civil society in Belarus.

I want to applaud the noble work of OSCE institutions that deal directly with democratic development. This work goes to the essence of the OSCE. When leaders of member states are unwilling to uphold their OSCE commitments, member states and institutions must speak out. Otherwise we cheapen the currency of our organization. The organization for democratic institutions and human rights has continued to do a superb job. It supports free elections, it fights trafficking in human being; it presses for religious freedom. Its work reflects the finest tradition of the Helsinki process. The representative for free media has kept the spotlight on infringements of the press and works hard to correct them. Our new High Commissioner on National Minorities will continue the important work of his predecessors on some of the most difficult and inflammatory issues of our time. We must support him as he defuses potential conflict and ensures that we all respect our commitments.

I understand that many of you believe that it is necessary to reconsider the legal status of the OSCE. This is a complex matter that must be very carefully considered, and my government will do so. The United States continues to believe that the OSCE derives great strength from its flexibility, the high degree of political will that is reflected in its consensus decisions, and the politically binding nature of its commitments.

As we examine how the OSCE might best adapt to changing needs, we would never want to compromise these strengths; rather, we seek to build upon them. President Bush is strongly committed to fulfilling the promises of Helsinki. Over a quarter of a century ago, when President Ford signed the Final Act, he said that the Helsinki process would be judged not by the promises made, but by the promises kept. These promises made during the cold war and reaffirmed during the post-cold war period remain fundamental to European security and cooperation.

Today, all fifty-five members of the OSCE are truly independent nations able to chart their own course for a new century. We must not forget the sacrifices of the men and women who brave totalitarian repression to ensure that the commitments made in Helsinki were kept.

In the years ahead, the United States looks forward to working with all of you to ensure that the OSCE remains a vital, vibrant and effective force for freedom, prosperity and peace in Europe and throughout the world.

On behalf of President Bush and the American people, let me offer the incoming Chairman in Office, our colleague Minister Gama, our best wishes and our support in carrying out his new responsibilities. And thank you once again, Minister Geoana, for your inspired chairmanship.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

###


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