Ladies and gentlemen,
I have the privilege of opening this Conference. The very fact that it is being held in Zagreb carries two messages. On the one hand, it unequivocally reconfirms the strong commitment of the Republic of Croatia to the global antiterrorist struggle. On the other, it is also a sign of appreciation of the past very clear and determined position of Croatia in the ranks of the international coalition, which came into being after the attack on the United States last year.
The first responses after the attacks on New York and Washington were emotional, of course, or at least predominantly emotional. Today, although the emotions have not calmed down entirely, we are thinking much more calmly and rationally.
However, one point should be made. The basic appraisals of last year's attacks, of their significance and consequences, and the key evaluations of the response, were made twelve months ago. Today we can only reassert them. And I am taking this opportunity precisely in order to do so.
The view that the attack on the United States is a global challenge asking for a global response – that is, for the formation of the antiterrorist coalition – has also been present here, in Croatia, ever since 11 September 2002. On that occasion I said, and I am repeating it today:
The place of the Republic of Croatia is in that coalition. Regardlesss of whether individual organizations or maybe even states appear as the inspirers and perpetrators of global terrorism, it is definitely a threat which cannot and may not be tolerated.
The Republic of Croatia has accepted the need, indeed the imperative necessity for military action against the terrorists on the scene, against their strongholds and accessories. But, as we have stressed, that is only the first step. It is a step which must be made, but we certainly cannot and may not stop at that. I made this point one year ago, and I am reiterating it today.
Antiterrorist activity in its broadest sense cannot even be imagined without a careful analysis of the conditions in which terrorism is born, without seeking the answer to the question: why does one resort to terrorism at all? An efficient and comprehensive struggle against poverty and hunger in the world, and a continuous and just resolution of regional crises, will certain reduce the human pool of potential terrorists as well as their motivation.
Along with the judgement that the struggle against terrorism is actually a struggle waged by civilization against anti-civilization, and that no clash of civilizations or war of religions have been the issue, there has similarly been no doubt whatsoever about the goal of the antiterrorist campaign.
Let me reiterate what I stated twelve months ago, speaking on behalf of the Republic of Croatia.
The goal of our struggle is not and should not in any case be revenge, but punishment and the prevention of new terrorist acts, and ultimately the elimination of conditions for sustained terrorist activity.
The struggle is waged only against those that inspire, organize, promote and commit terrorist acts, and against those that help them in any way – whether they happen to be individuals, organizations or institutions.
We have never had any doubts about the goals of the terrorists – to kill as many people as possible – and have never been deceived by the masks preferred by the terrorists. Here again I can only repeat what I told the Croatian and international public one year ago.
No political goal can justify terrorism. No state or national interest can justify the instigation or promotion of terrorism.
Another point has been quite clear from the very beginning. If global terrorism wanted a global response by challenging the entire democratic and freedom-loving world, it was obvious that such a response may not draw us closer to terrorists in any way, or threaten the very values which they attacked. I drew attention to that immediately after the attack on the United States, and I am doing it again today.
No action of the antiterrorist coalition may violate the provisions of the United Nations Charter.
Let me refer for a moment precisely to the role of the United Nations. It is imperative – I would like to make that quite clear – with respect to both aspects of the antiterrorist struggle. Of course, I have in mind direct struggle – not only military but also economic and political struggle.
But I also have in mind the long-term struggle focused on eliminating the environment which breeds international terrorism.
Although the brunt of the antiterrorist campaign is borne for obvious reasons by the United States, it is not and should not become only an American campaign. Having said that, I also have in mind new goals and methods in the war against terrorism. But there has never been any doubt about that either. In anticipating subsequent developments, I said a year ago, and I am making that point again today.
The antiterrorist struggle includes the detection of all, so far unknown, existing and potential sources for the production of weapons of mass destruction. These sources will be placed under efficient international control, and if that proves to be impossible for any reason – disabled or destroyed.
I found it necessary and appropriate to raise all these points today for a single, simple reason: to reassert Croatia's position in the war against global terrorism before the Croatian and the international public without any hesitation and without leaving any space for possible speculations.
We take our role in that war very seriously because we know that global terrorism threatens all of all us.
Therefore, I welcome the organization of this Conference. I am certain that it will be another step forward in the comprehensive consideration of all the aspects of the war against international terrorism. I believe that you can offer us precious and welcome assistance with your considerations and proposals as well as with your criticism.
The Republic of Croatia will continue to promote the two basic postulates of the antiterrorist campaign in every aspect of its international activity: that is, in its relations with its neighbours, with the states in the region, with European countries as well as with countries in other parts of the world – and, of course, within the United Nations.
The first is: war against terrorists, their inspirers and helpers – never forgetting that global terrorism knows of no nation or religion. The motto of that war is: may it never happen again!
The second postulate of the campaign against terrorism is the struggle against its deeper causes. Its motto is: may they never be revived again!
A few days ago we celebrated the International Peace Day. In the coming years, its celebration will have little sense unless we succeed in putting both the abovementioned postulates into practice.
Peace is the precondition of progress. And peace will not be possible until we put an end to global terrorism.