H.E. Mr. Jan Kavan

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic

at the Fifty-Sixth Session of the United Nations General Assembly General Debate

New York, 13 November 2001

Check against delivery

 Mr. President,
Let me congratulate you on your election as President of the 56th session of the UN General Assembly and wish you every success as you carry out this important post. At the same time I am using this opportunity to give my most sincere congratulations to the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the whole United Nations at the occasion of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize award and to express my gratitude for the determination to defend the ideas of tolerance and mutual respect among nations.

Colleagues and Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to extend my and my country's deepest sympathy to all those who lost their loved ones in the horrible terrorist attack of the September 11th. We are deeply moved by the unspeakable tragedy and share with the American people and all the affected their grief.

We perceive the horrifying attack as an attack against the entire civilized international community, against the principles of freedom, democracy and peace, the principles upon which our Organization stands. In the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001 the concepts of security, peace, and solidarity are acquiring a new and distinct meaning.

We recognize the growing interdependency of individual actors on the international scene. The dangers of new threats and risks, which confront our civilization, come to the forefront. To conquer them, we must not only move energetically against the perpetrators, but also concentrate on the causes which propel them.

At the same time, we are witnessing a significant process leading to creation of new relationships in the international community. The fact, that we were able to create such a wide anti-terrorist coalition so swiftly, is encouraging. It is imperative to strengthen this coalition and enable it not only to fight effectively against terrorism, but also to contribute to solving other pressing problems, especially those whose solutions will strengthen the struggle against terrorism by reducing tensions and promoting justice and stability. The current unusually wide international coalition against terrorism presents a unique opportunity which we should seize upon. We should do our utmost to make it effective and operational. We should do our utmost not to let it collapse for reasons which would not stand up to the inevitable future scrutiny by our sons and daughters. We should do our utmost to avoid the trap of enabling the struggle against terrorism, the struggle for peace, justice and stability and coexistence to be replaced by a clash of civilizations, by the war Usama ben Ladin is calling for, by a war against Islam.

The international community has at its disposal a great potential to address even the most complex problems and crises. It must now reach an agreement on how to approach them and which tools it will employ to address them.

International organizations, and the UN specifically, play an irreplaceable role in this process. The Czech Republic is determined to contribute to the search for effective ways to meet the most pressing challenges of today and to support the international response against terrorism and the actions undertaken thus far, especially if the military operation will continue to be targeted as accurately as possible against military targets. We view these actions as legitimate and in accordance with the United Nations Charter, as well as the UN Security Council resolution 1368 (2001). Today, more than ever, we feel our duty and obligation to preserve and cherish the uniqueness as well as open and universal character of the United Nations and push more decisively for strengthening of the role we have entrusted upon it.

Dear Colleagues,

When we approach these most pressing challenges, we must be pro-active. For its part, the Czech Republic is determined to carry its share. The Czech Republic has submitted its candidacy for the presidency of the 57" General Assembly of the United Nations. We hold this highly demanding and prestigious position in great respect, and we are determined to actively participate in the realization of the demanding tasks ahead of us in the most responsible manner. We are prepared to be attentive to your voices and concerns and serve the entire membership. We would obviously wish to help with the implementation of the Millennium Declaration, including the eradication of extreme poverty and the need to integrate human rights into every aspect of our work as we were so eloquently reminded by Secretary General Kofi Annan. We need to inch forward the necessary reform of the UN system, strengthen the role of the UN General Assembly, help to challenge the marginalisation of important continents such as Africa and so on but also to help the UN play an effective role in the struggle against international terrorism.

It is clear that accomplishing the most immediate objective of finding and bringing to justice the perpetrators of the attacks on the United States is most urgent and topical. However, other phases can be embarked upon at the same time. I agree with the President of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf who said at this Assembly that a three-pronged strategy is needed, ie going after the main culprits, the individual terrorists, secondly to move decisively against the terrorist organizations and thirdly, and in my opinion, very importantly, to address unsolved disputes around the world in a helpful and just manner. As I listened carefully to speeches delivered here over the last few days by many leading politicians of the world I was pleased that my conviction got confirmed that not only the Czech Republic, not only the European Union but many other countries argue that the fight against terrorism should combine the necessary military operations with, above all, decisive attempts to eradicate the root causes of terrorism. It is therefore necessary to pay far greater attention to conflicts which provide fertile soil for terrorism because if conflicts are unsolved for decades they give rise to feelings of frustration, despair, powerlessness or, as the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Seed Mohammad Chatham put it, to alienation, extremism and lawlessness. Political solutions of conflicts, many of which are essentially political conflicts, will reduce tensions, promote peace and fairness but especially it will take the wind off the sails of those who put forward the absurd myth that terrorist actions can bring about anything other than loss of lives of innocent people and exacerbation of problems and conflicts.

 In our fight against terrorism we need to look for comprehensive solutions and to this end employ all available tools to identify, isolate and destroy the terrorist networks and to combat terrorism as a whole. Our anti-terrorist strive must equally concentrate on combating international organized crime, people smuggling, and drug and arms trafficking. On the financial front, it is obviously necessary to cut off terrorists from their resources. A determined focus on preventing money laundering is a crucial aspect of this effort.

A long-term and extensive development assistance aimed at alleviating the most pressing problems of the developing world should be an integral part of these efforts by the international community.

The Czech Republic sees upholding of the unity and operational readiness of the international coalition combating terrorism as the most imperative task of the day. We, the international community, should not loose this unique opportunity and take decisive actions. The fight against terrorism is a long-term mission and will have an impact on all aspects of our lives. On the national level, the Czech Republic is preparing a plan for combating terrorism, which is inspired by the Action Plan of the EU.
In the recent weeks, the UN has shown its renewed resolve to combat international terrorism. We commend the Security Council for the swift action and we support the adoption of the Security Council Resolutions 1368 and 1373 to the threats to international peace and security caused by the terrorist acts. The Czech Republic is taking all necessary steps towards full implementation of the provisions of the Resolution 1373 and we fully support the actions of the relevant Counter-Terrorism Committee (CAC).

My belief in the need of political and diplomatic moves does not in any way suggests that one should negotiate with the terrorists. Just the contrary, terrorists have to be defeated and brought to justice, there can be no negotiations with the terrorists. The evil of terrorism must be eradicated. The fight against terrorism has a higher priority than ever before and nobody can stay neutral in this fight. The Czech Republic is proud that it was able to offer to the efforts led by the United States both military and humanitarian help. The Czech Republic is proud that some of this help was accepted and thus that some of our best soldiers can actively contribute to these joint endeavors.

Mr. President,

As I have said conflicts can be a breeding ground of terrorism. Terrorism fully exploits unsolved conflicts and profits from their expansion. Therefore our intensified fight against terrorism points unequivocally to the need for the international community to pay a far greater attention to conflict solution in various regions.

The UN must continue its major role in maintaining peace and security throughout the world by applying an integrated approach of conflict prevention, peacekeeping operations and post-conflict reconstruction. Recognition of roots of conflicts and education towards tolerance must be incorporated into our preventive strategies. We fully support the implementation of comprehensive overhaul of the peacekeeping operations, as proposed in the Brahimi Report and other recent reports focusing on this issue. The recent liberation of Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan by the Northern Alliance provides far greater possibilities to supply Afghan people with the humanitarian aid which they so badly need. This must remain in the forefront of our endeavors. We should do our utmost to alleviate the suffering of the innocent Afghan people.

There is an extremely important role for the UN to play in so desperately needed consolidation of the post-Taliban Afghan state. We should fully support the current efforts of the UN and especially of the Ambassador Brahimi. It is clear that Afghanistan needs a stable broad-based government which will reflect the ethnic diversity of the country. And I agree with Foreign Secretary Jack Straw that the one institution in the world which can deliver this better future is the United Nations.

The greatest tensions today undoubtedly prevail in the Middle East. It is regretful that a lot of the progress achieved over the last few years seems to have been squandered. But the uphill struggle which faces us is not a reason for doing nothing and let things get worse which means that more people would suffer and die. The Czech Republic is a traditional and active supporter of the peace process in the Middle East. We cannot reconcile ourselves with the current setbacks, the political violence must be halted, diplomatic initiatives aimed at bringing the parties back to negotiating table have to be fully supported. The Czech Republic fully supports the right of the Palestinians to their own viable and independent state. Nevertheless its final shape should be the result of bilateral Palestinian-Israeli negotiations with the full backing of the international community.

The international community has been encouraged by the change in political leadership in the Balkans which offers a new opportunity to secure a genuine peace and economic reconstruction. The upcoming local parliamentary elections in Kosovo will be an important moment in the stabilization process. I would like to use this opportunity to pay tribute to the Secretary General and his Special Representative in Kosovo Hans Haekkerup for their work in the region. Our admiration also goes to UNMIK and KFOR.

In Africa, despite some progress, not just poverty or AIDS, but also armed conflict remains a major challenge to the United Nations and the entire international community. Although the destiny of the continent lies in the hands of the Africans, the international community should strengthen its efforts to assist Africa in its strife to achieve durable peace and especially to acquire higher levels of development.

Mr. President,

The strife to reduce poverty has to stand in the forefront of our joint endeavours. Providing debt relief and market access are crucial elements of economic development of the developing countries. The UN must continue with its activities to promote sustainable development and continue its programmes aimed at providing basic health care and education, fighting HIV/AIDS pandemic and averting the devastation of the environment. A gender perspective should be included in all these efforts.

The gap between the rich and poor countries continues to grow and is further exacerbated by the imbalance in the distribution of the globalization benefits. The digital divide is just an additional symptom of the growing disparity between the developed and developing countries. The UN, in cooperation with national governments, the Bretton-Woods institutions, the World Trade Organization, private sector, non-governmental sphere and civil society, must be prepared to address the challenges of globalization. In short, we should respond to the globalization of capital by the globalization of solidarity and social justice.

Mr. President,

We need to create a functioning international legal environment in order to prosecute crimes against humanity. The Czech Republic fully supports the entry into force of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, an institution that will be a great asset for the maintenance of international law.

The protection of human rights will continue to shape the fate of human society. Human rights are universal and indivisible, and it is in the interest of the UN member states to support their organization in its strenuous effort to secure the protection of human rights in today's globally interconnected world. We must not remain indifferent to manifestations of racism, xenophobia, religious or political persecution, discrimination of minorities, violence against women or the violation of the rights of the child, regardless of where they take place. In this regard, allow me to mention the conference in World Conference in South African Durban. However difficult the negotiations have shown to be, they pointed to the fact that extreme intolerance and terrorism are interlinked.

Mr. President,

The implementation of the UN reform is imperative to make the work of our organization more effective. As I have said at the beginning of my speech, as a candidate for the Presidency of the 57th UN General Assembly I fully support the reaffirmation of the central role of the General Assembly, the revitalisation of its work, and the improvement of the procedural methods. Equally, the reform of the Security Council, including its enlargement in categories of both permanent and non-permanent members and limiting of the veto, will enhance the authority of this body. Reevaluation of the application of sanctions mechanism must play an important part of the Council's work.

The UN, more than any other international forum, is where people of all the cultures and religions meet. We come here from various parts of our planet to solve the problems of today's world. Despite our different backgrounds, we gather here to approach these problems bound by universal human values that unite us. The highest of them all is the value of human life. We have been tragically reminded that we need to promote the culture of peace and build environment in which the principles of these universally shared values take roots. Now, more than ever, we must strive to overcome our differences and be guided by our common interests. Let us unite our efforts and ensure that our work during this session of the General Assembly contributes to a better, safer and more just world.

Thank you for your attention.