16 NOVEMBER, 2001

(Check against delivery)

Mr. President,
Distinguished delegates,

It is my honour to address the 56th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.  Since the terrorist attacks on 11 September, the struggle against terrorism has become a clear priority on the international agenda. The United Nations play a key role in coordinating the common measures to eliminate international terrorism. My country assures you of its commitment to be vigorous in handling this matter.

Mr. President,

We must act on all levels to succeed in combating terrorism: global, regional and national. Today the need for international co-operation has reached a new dimension. To achieve sustainable results in eliminating terrorism, joint international action is mandatory.

Latvia strongly welcomes and supports the Security Council resolutions 1368 and 1373 setting out principles and measures for combating international terrorism on all levels. Latvia is convinced that full and unconditional implementation of resolution 1373 is imperative to success in suppression of terrorism. Financing of terrorism has to be prevented and eliminated. All action or inaction taken by states or individuals, which allows practice of terrorism, has to be stopped. Co-operation and information exchange among states concerning terrorist activities has to be strengthened. Latvia welcomes the establishment of the Committee of the Security Council to monitor implementation of resolution 1373.

Latvia supports efforts undertaken by other international organizations acting on regional level. As an aspiring member of the Euro-Atlantic community Latvia plays its part in the common activities carried out by the EU and NATO. In order to harmonize regional measures to prevent acts of terrorism the Action plan of Central and Eastern European countries was adopted at the Warsaw Conference on Combating Terrorism. Another important European framework for combating terrorism is the Council of Europe, which already has elaborated wide range of legal instruments aimed at fight against terrorism.

Mr. President,

My country fully shares the position of the European Union that our efforts in fighting international terrorism have to be redoubled. It means both our commitment as a member of international community and homework we have to fulfil as individual state.

A high-level task force has been established in Latvia to co-ordinate national efforts against terrorism, including implementation of the Security Council Resolutions 1368 and 1373. Latvia has initiated the national legislative process of ratification of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and it is foreseen to sign the Convention by the end of this year.

Latvian Government has approved an Action Plan for Combating Terrorism.  It is a set of measures aimed at strengthening my country’s ability to prevent its territory, banking system and other assets from being used by terrorists.  There should be no place where terrorists can hide from Justice.

Latvia has already elaborated legislation in the area of preventing money laundering.  Banks and other operators are obliged to report on suspicious transfers. The Government has submitted to the Parliament a package of further amendments to the Banking Law and the Law on Prevention of Laundering of Proceeds Derived from Criminal Activity.

Defending the world from terrorism the international community has to do its utmost to spare innocent people of Afghanistan from further suffering. Latvia fully supports Special Representative Brahimi as well as all other parties in their efforts to bring about a fully inclusive political system in Afghanistan. My country welcomes the Security Council Resolution 1378. Latvian government has also taken a decision to provide humanitarian aid to the Afghan people through the Office of High Commissioner for Refugees.

Mr. President,

We believe that priorities that existed before September 11 are all the more valid. A year ago the Heads of State and Government adopted the Millennium Declaration that gave a new spirit for the United Nations and clearly demonstrated that the world and peoples need this organization.

Latvia attaches great importance to the implementation of the Millennium Declaration, especially in relation to issues of human rights, fundamental freedoms, rights of the child, conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy. We consider that the follow-up process to the Millennium Summit should be an integral part of the United Nations work. International relations in the twenty-first century have to be based on values and principles of the Declaration.

The 55th Session of the General Assembly demonstrated that the commitment that was put into the Millennium Declaration has been genuine one. The results of the United Nations General Assembly Special Sessions on Habitat, HIV/AIDS, Small Arms and Light Weapons and Durban Conference have set a number of goals on state, regional and global levels. The process has been started and Latvia is actively participating in pursuit of the common goals.

Mr. President,

The United Nations is the only global organisation with the fundamental task of protecting next generations from scourge of war and maintenance of lasting peace and international security. Therefore one of its most important tasks is peacekeeping operations.

My country has actively participated in the UN-mandated peacekeeping operations since 1996. During 2001 Latvia continues to provide the support to stabilize the situation in the Balkans and participates with troops and personnel in all United Nations mandated, NATO-led operations in the Balkans, as well as other operations and endeavours of the OSCE.

Attaching outstanding importance to the peacekeeping operations, Latvia has voluntary increased its contribution to the UN peacekeeping budget starting with year 2001.

Mr. President,

The establishment of the International Criminal Court has been one of the UN priorities for a decade. My country has signed the Rome Statute in 1999. The Government will present to the Parliament the ratification bill of the Statute and drafts of necessary amendments to national legislation in the nearest time. Latvia also hopes to be amongst the first sixty states to ratify the Statute.

Mr. President,

This is an eminent General Assembly for Latvia and its people. This year we are celebrating a decade since Latvia has joined the United Nations as a free and independent country. The UN was the first international organization to which Latvia acceded after fifty years of occupation. The United Nations has a special meaning for Latvia. Accession of Latvia to the UN demonstrated the commitment of my country to rejoin the international community and to take an active part in the international events and processes.

In these ten years Latvia has come a long way in its development and this growth encompasses a variety of realms. The foreign policy of Latvia is rooted in observance of international law, development of human rights and democracy, protection of universally accepted human values. The top priorities of Latvian foreign policy continue to be accession to the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. These are not goals in themselves, but rather means to ensure sustainable development. The foreign policy priorities also include good neighbourly relations, bilateral cooperation, as well as active participation in international organizations.

I have the honour to announce that Latvia is changing its status from aid-recipient to donor country to provide its support to others both through financial assistance and sharing of experience. Latvia has started to elaborate its concept of a donor country. We are looking forward to the implementation of this concept and assisting those who are in urgent need our help.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, I would like to congratulate the United Nations and Secretary General H.E. Koffi Annan on awarding of Nobel Peace Prize as a recognition of the work that has been carried out. I am convinced that we as Member States will continue to spare no effort to protect the principles and ideals for which the United Nations stand.

Thank you.