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The Fight of Humanity Against Inhumanity

The Fight of Humanity Against Inhumanity

Opening address of H.E. Mr János Martonyi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Hungary, Président d’Honneur of the North Atlantic Council, Brussels, 6 December 2001.

Mr Secretary General,

Dear Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen!

This is the first time that the Council convenes at the level of Foreign Ministers following the terrorist attacks in the United States. The historic decision taken on September 12 for the first time in 52-year-old history of the North Atlantic Council on the invocation of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty was the clearest manifest of the cohesion of the Alliance and of the strong Trans-Atlantic solidarity.

There are moments in life that are leaving their imprint on the awareness of the individual as well as of mankind as a whole with utmost vigour, with the sharpness of a flashlight. The barbaric and cowardly attack against the United States that took place on September 11, the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center was one. The very first word that we all uttered after the shock was that of the deepest sympathy and full solidarity with the people of the United States, a word that I would here and now like to reiterate, in the name of all of us. This is not just the expression of allied solidarity, much more than that. It is much more than that because this attack was directed not only against our American friends and allies but against the whole mankind.

It was an attack that violated all the universal human values that are embodied in different cultural heritages but nevertheless constitute the common heritage of the whole mankind. We noted with great sadness that the saying, according to which "one who kills a single man, kills the whole mankind" once again proved to be true. A conclusion that can be read in the New Testament, as well as in the Talmud or the Koran. A conclusion that proves in itself that the broad international coalition that was set up for the fight against terror does not stand for a fight between civilisations, cultures or religions. It stands for the fight of humanity against inhumanity. When we are raising our voice, we are also taking a stand in favour of the preservation of the common achievements of mankind, and identifying ourselves with the values of humanism, democracy and the respect for life.

Unfortunately, terrorism is not a new phenomenon in international relations. However, the terrorist attack of September 11 constitutes a challenge of unprecedented magnitude that we need to stand up to. A challenge to the entire world order that is based on democratic values. Due to its newly acquired capabilities, its world-wide structure and its permanent presence, as well as to the financial and logistic network it relies on, terrorism has become a global strategic challenge. A global strategic challenge that will exert a long-term impact on international security and the system embodying it. The world policy structure in terms of which we have been thinking so far and developing our policies is undergoing a deep transformation. In the past, we were focusing on whether one state or another was using terrorist organisations for the purposes of attaining its own malevolent goals. What we are witnessing, however, is that the network of terrorism has gained in strength and is able to make use of weak states for its purposes, attaining its own very goals.

Not only will the future bring changes, however, but it will also preserve stabilising features of continuity. The real issue is therefore the extent, the depth and the specifics of those changes and to find out how stable the pillars are that we are relying on. Our common interests and values enshrined also in the Washington Treaty provide the necessary basis and make sure that we are on the right track.

Chers Collègues !

La situation qui s’est développée à la suite des attentats du 11 septembre présente sous un nouveau jour les questions et les sujets qui figurent sur l’agenda de l’Alliance et les rend plus importants encore: c’est ce dont nous allons avoir j’espère bien la possibilité de faire un échange de vues fructueux. L’avenir des relations OTAN-Russie, les développements en Europe de Sud-est, les rapports transatlantiques et la problématique de l’élargissement de l’Alliance, ainsi que les relations OTAN-Ukraine et la coopération avec nos partenaires au sein du CPEA, tout comme les questions actuelles de désarmement et de contrôle des armes présentent de tels défis qui nécessitent un discours et une coopération d’esprit constructif et effectif.

Mesdames et Messieurs!

Je suis convaincu que notre réunion d’aujourd’hui sera un reflet digne de la tragédie du 11 septembre. Les tragédies ont leurs propres rôles dans la vie humaine et dans le destin de l’humanité. Elles nous rappellent, avec la force de la douleur, l’ampleur et la gravité des dangers qui nous menacent, mais ces tragédies nous indiquent également la direction de nos actions futures.

Le sacrifice n’a un sens que si nous comprenons ce message et nous le respectons par nos actions. Nous, les membres de l’Alliance d’Atlantique du Nord, avons la capacité de donner un sens à la mort absurde des milliers de gens à l’échelle historique. Je suis sûr que leur mort ne restera pas insensée.

Je vous remercie de votre attention.


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).