The war on terrorism has given a new meaning to the term “war front.” No longer just opposing armies facing each other in the field, the term today applies to the increased security measures being taken here at home, and to similar efforts by our friends and allies to protect citizens and to root out terrorist cells abroad. The war front has similarly expanded from the military to the financial field, in the hope of severing the money flows that allow terrorism to thrive not just in scattered cells but through a global network.
In this war, the front is everywhere, and every government and every international organization has a role to play. This hearing of the Helsinki Commission will examine the role of the 55 participating States of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), cooperating both through the organization and other mechanisms, in the war against terrorism.
A commitment to combat terrorism has a long history in the OSCE. Indeed, a commitment not to assist terrorist activities, even indirectly, is found as far back as the 1975 Helsinki Final Act. The events of September 11 as well as developments since have served to focus renewed attention on these commitments, underscoring the importance of cooperation throughout the OSCE region.
At the December OSCE Ministerial Meeting in Bucharest, Romania, the participating States pledged “to reenforce and develop bilateral cooperation within the OSCE ... in order to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.” A subsequent international conference in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, developed and endorsed a program of action to initiate practical measures aimed at preventing and countering terrorism.
From the time of OSCE’s formation, the Helsinki Commission has sought to ensure that a commitment made is a commitment implemented. We therefore hope to hear from our distinguished witnesses today not only about what the states of Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia have pledged to do in the war on terrorism, but also about progress and problems encountered in implementation. This will be of particular use to those of us on the Commission who have played an active part in the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. When the Assembly meets in Berlin in early July, the war on terrorism will permeate all discussions, from security and economics to human rights.
As the United States seeks to strengthen counterterrorism capabilities at home and abroad, we will increasingly rely upon the cooperation of the OSCE participating States as we confront terrorists and those who support them. As Secretary Powell observed during the Bucharest OSCE Ministerial last December, “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.” The OSCE participating States can make a meaningful contribution to the antiterrorism campaign by focusing on the essential core OSCE principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law while promoting practical cooperation in combating corruption and international crime -- issues closely linked to terrorism.