Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,
First of all, a warm welcome to Moscow, the capital of the Russian Federation. As far as I know, your organisation has been functioning actively and fruitfully for eight years already since the start of 1992, setting an example to other agencies. I think interior ministers, who are on the frontline of the battle against crime, have a keener sense of the problems. Perhaps this circumstance contributes to closer cooperation and yields practical results. Your work is directly linked to your official duties and is entirely committed to fulfilling your duty to the peoples of our countries. I would like to express the hope that this meeting will bring a positive result.
The spread of terrorism – which is the main topic of discussion at the meeting today – is of crucial importance for all the states. One can clearly trace an interconnection in the actions of international terrorism in various regions of the world: in the Balkans, in the Caucasus and in Central Asia. Terrorists have no ideological or religious affiliation. They share one thing: the use of the bloodiest and the dirtiest methods and means. Of late they have sought to achieve far-reaching political goals: first of all, destabilisation of government power in the countries where they act, destruction of its institutions. Moreover, a far-flung network is being established of centres for financing, training, information and propaganda support of terrorists.
Russia came face to face with large-scale manifestations of that evil on its own territory. No one should entertain any illusions that this is exclusively a Russian problem. I am sure that the specialists present here understand it better than anyone. We know that the problem does not concern only Russia. The problem is that international extremists believe that the former post-Soviet space is the most convenient target for attack because the government institutions in our countries are still weak and are not providing solid support for their peoples. That accounts for the activities of international extremists in the post-Soviet space.
International terrorism has already inflicted deep wounds on Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and there have been attempted terrorist attacks in Georgia and other states.
I would like to stress the boost the interaction among our countries got from the appeal to the CIS heads of state and government on combating international terrorism adopted by the Council of Interior Ministers on October 1, 1999. As a follow-up, the Council of the CIS Heads of State authorised on January 25, 2000 the development of a programme to combat international terrorism and other manifestations of extremism and create a single anti-terrorist centre. The initiative was put forward by the President of Kazakhstan, but this is just to remind you that in fact you launched the appeal to the heads of state on October 1 last year, so that your current work can be seen as the next stage in the counter-terrorism effort.
The work to agree the main parameters of the programme and the statute on the Centre is going ahead at full speed because these are the issues on the agenda today. The main outcome of the two meetings is a practically unanimous agreement that an anti-terrorist centre should be formed on the basis of the special anti-terrorist units of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). This approach is prompted not only by the fact that Russia has the legal framework, but also by the fact that the units of the Russian FSB possess a modern specialized information, research and methodological base and a unique potential for carrying out anti-terrorist activities.
Let us face it, the FSB Centre, the research institutes and so on were all created in the former Soviet Union. So we believe that all the members of the Commonwealth of Independent States are entitled to have access to the expertise and the technological facilities. All the more so as we are all interested in pooling our efforts.
I would like to take this opportunity to express appreciations to my colleagues, the heads of CIS states, for their support of the anti-terrorist operation in the North Caucasus. Today we can state that the operation has entered its concluding phase. The fight against terror calls for comprehensive measures and it should be spearheaded by the governments. The mission has been fulfilled because the resources of all the security structures have been mobilised and their interaction has been stepped up. But let me note that the main ingredient of success is the unity of Russian society on issues of the fight against terror and banditry, and the heroism of Russian officers and men.
The events in the Caucasus and in Central Asia highlighted the need to combine the efforts of the military and security structures in our countries in counteracting terrorism and extremism. We know that our partners look to still closer interaction with us, especially as regards the strengthening of the material and technical base, supply of specialised equipment and weapons, and personnel training. Let me assure you that we will tackle these problems together, with due account of the real possibilities. Russia will make its contribution. An important area of our activities is the creation of a single CIS data bank on terrorists and terrorist groups, and the sources of their financing. To this end we should organise exchange and thorough and professional analysis of information. We believe no one should remain an onlooker in this work. Either we show a united front, or terrorists will take advantage of the breaches to infiltrate our countries. This fight is in the interests of all our peoples. It is only if we bring into a single fist all the national security agencies, secret services, and the interior ministries that we shall be able to effectively challenge international terrorism and extremism in the Commonwealth of Independent States.
The heads of state are aware of this, and that awareness has been achieved and expressed in corresponding decisions. We very much hope that you will pick up this work at your professional level to take it into a practical domain, into the domain of implementation.
On my own behalf and on behalf of my colleagues, the leaders of the CIS countries, I welcome you and wish you all the best, I wish you success in your work.