Lecture of the Croatian president at the American University in Blagoevgrad
THE ROLE OF SMALL COUNTRIES IN THE FIGHT AGAINST GLOBAL TERRORISM
Ladies and gentlemen,
I remember well: on the tenth of September I was invited to visit this University and to address you. I accepted the invitation with pleasure. The following day the twin towers of the New York World Trade Center were destroyed, and the Pentagon building in Washington, D.C. severely dagamed, in unprecedented terrorist attacks.
When I accepted the invitation to visit you, I wanted to present my thoughts about cooperation in the region, and about ways to strengthen peace and stability in this part of the world. The events in the United States and subsequent developments have induced my to change the topic.
I shall speak about the fight against global terrorism, about the possible place of small countries like mine in this fight, and I shall also present certain principles on which, in my view, the antiterrorist coalition ought to be based.
On the eleventh of September we faced not only a threat, but a bloody materialization of the plans of global terrorism. This materialization, the planes with passengers turned into deadly missiles, innocent people on their jobs turned into targets – all these have shown us that global terrorism is a real and omnipresent threat to our lives, but also more than just that. It threatens the way of life we have freely chosen, the very freedom built into the foundations of democracy to which we have committed ourselves.
Let me remind you that terrorism is not a phenomenon typical of our time only. In its different manifestations and practices it has been a continuous attendant of politics. As a rule, terrorists have never succeeded in the long run. In the meantime, however, innocent victims perished.
In the period after World War Two the presence of terrorism on the global scene has been enhanced. We, who are more along in years, still remember well the Baader-Meinhof terrorist group in Germany and the so- called Red Brigades in Italy. Invoking political goals, both groups sowed fear, insecurity and death. Germany and Italy succeeded in putting an end to both.
Today they are a dark episode in the post-war history of the two countries. Today, however, their business, if I may call it that way, is still being very intensively pursued by the Basque separatists in Spain, and by the members of the so-called Irish Republican Army and their adversaries in Ireland, that is, in the United Kingdom.
Finally, it goes without saying that terrorism has marked the Middle East scene for decades, and that Asia, Africa or Latin America are not immune to it either.
Sound evidence has indicated for years that terrorists cooperate with one another and, not infrequently, coordinate their activities. There is no doubt that there are states which, to say the least, watch their actions benevolently. Yet, until now there has been no readiness or political will to take multilateral, concerted action against terrorists.
Everything has changed after the eleventh of September. Nobody doubts any more the existence of a widespread network of global terrorism. And global terrorism can and must be countered only by global acction. We have witnessed over the past days the beginnings of such an action.
We are witnessing the creation of an alliance against global terrorism, which is unique in many respects. If we look for examples in history, perhaps only the antifascist coalition of World War Two bears comparison, in certain key elements, with the current antiterrorist coalition which is already operating and which is still being created.
In order to explain why I have resorted to such an analogy, let me just remind you of the most essential points. During World War Two, a group of countries faced with aggression which obliterated freedom and democracy and brought death, dictatorship and autocracy, judged that the Nazi regime in Germany, the fascist regime in Italy and the authoritarian regime in Japan could and should be resisted together. The bloc, known as the Allies, waged war with the other group of countries, the powers of the Axis and their satellites.
However, I must immediately and clearly note the essential difference between the situation during the Second World War and current circumstances. The enemy of the Allies was known. The present-day allies must first identify the enemy, then find him, and only then confront him – not only militarily, or at least not only militarily. Formalists will say that such a confrontation cannot be called war because of such considerations. But we actually are at war. Of course, it is true that this is a specific war, but it is likewise true that the war challenge to America and, through America, to all those who care for freedom and democracy, has also been very specific.
I had to present this introduction in order to arrive at the key question, which also determines the topic of my address: how will the antiterrorist coalition operate, on which principles will it be based and – finally - what is the role of small countries in it?
In its quite obvious the contribution of individual countries will not be determined by their size but by the political will and commitment of their leadership and by their objective capabilities. Present-day circumstances, let me state categorically, leave no room for maneuvering or for neutrality. When I addressed the Croatian public one day after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. I also said: "As of yesterday there is only one alternative: we or they."
Some people did not like that sentence. They thought that such a categorical and even exclusive statement was not appropriate to a democratic politician. But just because I am unreservedly committed to democracy both as a politician and as a man, I feel and know that we are entering a period in which we shall literally decide on what our future will be like and on which foundations it will rest. If WE are to decide, THEY cannot, may not and – I am certain – will not. I think I have made my point quite clearly.
In the actions of the antiterrorist coalition the military action component, which, as I anticipate for many reasons, will be implemented through metods of primarily nonconventional but also occasionally conventional warfare – will be assumed largely – although I shall not say exclusively – by the NATO countries led by the United States.
All the others with provide their contribution and cooperate, and are already doing so, in different areas. This is yet another difference with regard to the action of the antifascist coalition of the Second World War: while it operated, in practical terms, only militarily – on the front and behind the lines – action is now taking place on many fronts and in many ways: militarily, economically and politically, to put it briefly. I have in mind the gathering and exchange of intelligence data, the blocking of the financial spurces of terrorism, the opening of air space, providing availability of military bases on national territory, and political cooperation within the United Nations and beyond.
The development of ideas concerning the principles on which the antiterrorist coalition should be based and operate will also and certainly occupy an important place within the scope of its political action.
Last week, at the Komensky University in Bratislava, I outlined some of my considerations on the subject. Today I would like to take advantage of the invitation of the American University in Blagoevgrad in order to present an elaborated plafform, a set of principles which I consider to be unavoidable for the future action of the antiterrorist coalition.
In this regard it is least relevant whether someone will see in it a rounded-off draft of a charter for the antiterrorist coalition or experience it as an offer from which one can use whatever is found to be acceptable.
Of course, I am fully aware that many people are thinking about the principles to underlie the action of the global coalition against terrorism. Precisely because of this fact, I believe that it is quite legitimate that the president of a small European country like Croatia should also think about them. The commitment of my conutry is quite clear and unequivocal, and the set of principles I am presenting to you and simultaneously offer to everybody only additionally strengthens such a commitment.
I have divided these principles into several thematic groups, split into a number of points.
a) What, Who and Why?
1. The antiterrorist coalition is the response to the challenge of global terrorism whose attacks on New York and Washington have definitively shown that it threatens global civilization and the system based on the respect of law and human rights.
2. The coalition is created by countries clearly committed to civilized life, peace, security and democracy.
3. The exclusive aim of the coalition is fight against global terrorism in all its manifestations.
b) The Means, the Goals and the Adversaries
4. The fight against global terrorism will be waged in a coordinated and deliberate way, through continuous consultation and agreement among the members of the coalition, while avoiding any hasty actions focused exclusively or almost exclusively on propaganda effects.
5. The goal of the fight/action should not in any case be revenge, but punishment and the prevention of new terrorist acts – and, ultimately, the elimination of conditions for continued terrorist activities.
6. The fight is waged only and solely against those who inspire, organize, promote and perpetrate terrorist acts, and against those that abet them in any way, whichever entity may be involved, whether invididuals, organizations or institutions. The fight is not waged against specific nations or against followers of any religion, because terrorism knows of no religious or ethnic background.
c) What to Do and to Accomplish?
7. The fight against terrorism includes efforts focused on the prevention and prosecution of the inspirers, planners and perpetrators of terrorist acts wherever they happen to be. If that should prove to be impossible, the focus will be on their elimination.
8. The antiterrorist fight also includes efforts to detect all the so far uknown but existing and potential sources for the production of weapons of mass destruction. Such weapons shall be placed under efficient international control – or, if that should prove impossible for any reason – disabled or destroyed.
9. The fight against terrorism also includes measures to be taken against countries which either actively assist terrorists – in organizational terms, by intelligence logistics, arms and equipment – or harbour them and aid their escape. When such steps are taken it should be remembered that total economic sanctions as a rule affect the innocent population and not the regimes behind the terrorists or abetting them.
d) The Antiterrorist Coalition and the UN
10. The goal of the antiterrorist coalition is to have the United Nations providing the framework for all its actions. Since this will not always be possible for practical reasons, due attention ought to be paid to its actions securing, even if subseeuently, the "green light" of the global organizaation in terms of general resolutions invoking Chapter 7 of the Charter, i.e., resolutions which commit all the UN member countries as of the date of their enactment.
11. No action of the antiterrorist coalition may violate the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.
e) Cooperation in the Intelligence Field
12. The countries of the antiterrorist coalition will exchange without any reserve intelligence data required for the fight against terrorism.
13. Each member country of the coalition is obliged, at the request of any other member, to gather specific intelligence requested of it and make it available to the applicant as well as to all the members of the coalition.
f) Extradition of Terrorists
14. When a terrorist act is committed in any country, it is entitled, whether an extradition treaty exists or not, to request the extradition of the suspect perpetrator and his/her associates regardless of their ethnic background, race or religion, the country of their current residence, their status and citizenship.
15. The country in which the suspect perpetrator of a terrorist act happens to be residing at the moment of the extradition request shall positively and without any delay respond to such a request, i.e., extradite the suspect perpetrator to the country in which the terrorist act has been committed and which requests the extradition of the suspect(s).
g) Solidarity Within the Coalition
16. The member countries of the antiterrorist coalition shall offer and, if so requested, extend every aid to any country which becomes a victim of terrorism – ranging from medical and humanitarian through intelligence and logistics to economic and political aid.
17. The member countries of the coalition will agree and coordinate, and strictly enforce in their own territory, security and antiterrorist steps in order to minimize and thwart terrorist acts. By protecting themselves the members of the coalition will also protect one another.
h) Prevention of Abuse of the Coalition
18. Through strict law enforcement the antiterrorist coalition will thwart any attempt to have its activity abused as cover for any discrimination or endangering of members of any nation or creed.
I have attempted, under 8 headings and 18 points, to summarize my vision of the principles which ought to guide the antiterrorist coalition. I believe that the establishment of these principles is not only useful but indispensable unless the coalition - which, let me repeat, is already operating albeit it is simultaneously still being formed – should turn into an ad hoc group of countries the number of which would decrease or increase in an uncontrolled way, a group which would always be dominated by a great power or by several powers only.
The creation of the antiterrorist alliance has been forced on us by terrorists. Let me reiterate: a global challenge calls for a global response. The response is the coalition. Since we are going to live with it for quite a time, because the elimination of global terrorism is not a matter or weeks or months, and the job we have assumed cannot be done halfway, I felt not only entitled but also compelled to offer a concept of basic principles. In the process, let me repeat, I am quite aware that other statesmen also also considearing the matrter.
If my presentation should prove to be of any help, if it promotes or speeds up the work focused on defining and profiling the antiterrorist coalition which will certainly mark the beginning of the twenty-first century, I shall consider that I have done something useful as the president of a state which was one of the first to call for the creation of the antiterrorist coalition.
Finally, let me add a few more points. Thousands of innocent people have perished in the attacks on New York and Washington. There is no doubt that, here and there, innocent people will also be killed in the military actions of the antiterrorist coalition. This cannot be avoided, however cruel that may sound.
I am saying this because there are people, whose good intentions I would not like to question, raising their voice against the use of force as a response to terror. Some even equate such a response with terror and claim that the propagation of the space of democracy can and must be the only response to terror.
I am strongly convinced that such critics of our current and future activities are wrong. The use of force – and I have mind both military force and other forms of pressure such as international sanctions and restrictions - has been thrust upon us by those who endeavour to use terror not only in order to reduce the space of democracy but to eliminate democracy.
In would to stress in particular that antiterrorist activity in the broadest sense cannot be imagined without a careful analysis of the conditions in which terrorism is born, without seeking an answer to the question: why does anyone resort to terrorism at all? Without pretending to provide an answer to this complex question, let me just say that efficient and comprehensive fight against poverty and hunger in the world, and a lasting and just resolution of regional crises, will certanly reduce the human reservoir of potencial terrorists as well as their motivation.
However, developments have progressed too much for our deceiving ourselves with the thesis that a subsequent analysis of the causes underlying terrorism and academic discussions will suppress terrorism whose iron fist has knocked on our door. Analyses are certainly required in order to understand what has taken place and in order to avoid the mistakes of the past in the future.
But now action is called for. Wishing to provide my own contribution to such action and confirm the firm consent of my country, Croatia, to the antiterrorist coalition, I have presented today a draft of the basic principles which such action would follow.
But, before I conclude, let me come back for a moment to the relation between democracy and the use of force with which we want to protect our democracy, that is, to the question: isn't democracy a better response to terrorism than force?
I shall try to answer this question by a historical analogy. The Nazi leader, Hitler might have been stopped, perhaps, by democratic methods and the propagation of democracy if someone had analyzed the causes underlying Hitler's growing power at the time of his ascent.
However, those who responded to the dictator's growing appetites by withdrawal and appeasement prevailed at the time.
And once the Wehrmacht war machine was set into motion, democracy had no chance. The response to force simply had to be force. In the war against the Nazis many of their opponents on the German side also died and were killed in the allied raids. With regard to global terrorism and to what we are and will be doing against this, I am afraid that we shall sometimes find ourselves in a very similar situation.
But Germany, which threatened the whole world under Hitler's leadership, is today a strong and stable democracy. I believe that the world, faced with global terrorism, will become better and safer, more democratic and more civilized in the not too distant future thanks precisely to the action of the countries which have decided to oppose terrorism united in the coalition.
Finally, last but certainly not least: the war of the Allies against Hitler and his Axis was not a war of civilizations, and neither is the present-day clash with global terrorism. Then and now civilization was on the same side. Civilization waged and wages war against noncivilization. Back then civilization prevailed.
And civilization will prevail now, too.