|U.S. Statement to OSCE Permanent Council on Kyrgyzstan |
U.S. Statement to OSCE Permanent Council on Kyrgyzstan
Statement on Kyrgyzstan delivered by Ambassador David T. Johnson to the special meeting of the permanent council. Welcomes Kyrgyzstan's clear choice for democracy, OSCE values. Source: Washington File (EUR314), U.S. Department of State, Washington D.C., September 19, 2001.
The United States welcomes Kyrgyzstan's "strong words of commitment" regarding freedom of speech and of the press, tolerance for national minorities, ethnic groups and religions, as well as to additional judicial reform and a new ombudsman law, Ambassador David T. Johnson told a special meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Permanent Council in Vienna September 19.
Johnson was delivering the U.S. statement in response to an address to the Council by Askar Akayev, president of the Kyrgyz Republic.
"Your presence here this morning and the program you outline signal your clear choice for democracy and for a future for your country under OSCE values," Johnson said.
Johnson, the U.S. representative to the OSCE, also urged further concrete steps "such as expediting the registration of new media outlets and allowing the political opposition to more fully express its views in public."
He also said the United States "appreciates Kyrgyzstan's pledge of full support in the international fight against terrorism and in bringing to justice the perpetrators [of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States], their supporters and those who would harbor them."
Following is a transcript of the statement: (begin transcript)
United States Mission to the OSCE, Vienna, September 19, 2001
Statement on Kyrgyzstan delivered by Ambassador David T. Johnson to the special meeting of the permanent council.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to start by thanking you, Mr. President, for your kind words regarding the events in New York and Washington on September 11, both the ones you have expressed today and the ones you expressed in your note of condolence to President Bush and the American people. The United States appreciates Kyrgyzstan's pledge of full support in the international fight against terrorism and in bringing to justice the perpetrators, their supporters and those who would harbor them.
The United States and President Bush are calling for all the countries of the world and all international organizations to join us in a great coalition to conduct a campaign against terrorists who wage war against our civilization. You have faced these challenges for some time, Mr. President, and I know that you understand well what we face today.
In times like these it is useful to recall First Principles. We will rely on the rule of law to investigate these crimes and to bring these criminals to justice. Independent media and civil society are and will remain crucial to an open society. Protection of human rights, the rights of persons belonging to minorities, and freedom of religion are the best guarantee for stable societies that can reduce the recruiting fields for groups who will resort to violence.
In the end, OSCE values are what separate us from these criminals. Our commitment to these values should be strengthened and not weakened. At the same time we cannot be naïve. These terrorists, whether the ones that operated last week in my country, or the ones who have operated before in yours, do not carry out their grim crimes over some kind of a regrettable misunderstanding about these principles or because they do not have enough newspapers.
We have to be prepared to face the fact that some people will pursue political aims through violence until we take action to stop them. There are those, perhaps in any society, who have no interest in political arrangements or political arguments, and for them we must marshal our rights and obligations under international law to remove terrorism as a threat to our way of life and to ensure that those who provide safe-haven and support terrorism are held to account. This is a long-term project and one that we will not accomplish in a single day or hour. In times like these governments need more than ever an active civil society to ensure they have the full support of their electorates to help weather possible instability.
Mr. President, therefore I welcome your strong words of commitment regarding freedom of speech and of the press, not to mention tolerance for national minorities, ethnic groups, and diverse religions, as well as your commitment this morning to additional judicial reform and a new ombudsman law. I also welcome your commitment to move the prison system of your country to the Ministry of Justice.
I hope you will also consider further concrete steps in this regard, such as expediting the registration of new media outlets and allowing the political opposition to more fully express its views in public. A similarly constructive step would be the revision of proposed amendments to the electoral code to continue to allow foreign funding to support domestic observation efforts. Mr. President, we welcomed your recent announcement, reaffirmed today, of plans for an orderly and peaceful transition in 2005 and your decision not to seek constitutional amendments for further terms of office. We all know that the truly hard thing in a democracy is the orderly transfer of power and your steps in this direction are truly welcome.
Another positive sign was your recent withdrawal from parliamentary consideration of several pieces of legislation that threatened to undermine your country's progress toward democracy. I am confident that the proposals the government puts forward in their place will protect the rights of Kyrgyz citizens.
We also noted and welcomed the recent release of opposition figure Tolchubek Turgunaliyev, and particularly the fact that he has been able to speak out publicly and have his views published. We hope that you will consider the same clemency in resolving the case of Mr. Kulov.
Mr. President, like my colleagues I also want to acknowledge and welcome the fine work of your representatives here and to thank Ambassador Djekshenkulov for his excellent working relationship with me personally.
Mr. President, I do not think any of us around this table have any doubt that your presence here this morning and the program you outline signal your clear choice for democracy and for a future for your country under OSCE values. We know, from personal and direct experience over the last several days, the kind of challenges that you face in that respect and we look forward to working with you and your representatives here and in Bishkek to push this process forward.