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Speech of the President of the Czech Republic at the 71st session of UN General Assembly


Madam President, ladies and gentlemen,

One year ago, I warned here against the spreading of international terrorism. What has happened after only 1 year? Paris, Brussels., Dhaka, Istanbul, Orlando, Munich, Nice, and New York again. A few years ago, the number of countries which were influenced by Islamic terrorism were only 6. Now it is 35. So, the Islamic state is something like a cancer, but it is not only the tumor. Many cancers have metastases which are more dangerous than the tumor itself. And that’s why we may observe the spreading of radicalism, terrorism and fanaticism, and we have to ask: How long are we to wait? How long are we to convey the condolences only? How long are we only to express our declarations of solidarity?

I admit there are some limited actions against terrorism, but only very limited ones, and the terrorism is spreading all the time. We have three main risks in this area. One of them is the risk that in the near future we shall have a new Islamic state in Afghanistan. In case of the reduction of the NATO forces in Afghanistan, the victory of Taliban is highly probable. If so, the cruelty of Taliban is practically the same as the cruelty of Al-Qaeda, Islamic State, Boko Haram, Al-Nusra and so on, and so on.

The second risk is the extremisation, or if you wish, radicalisation of the population which is still quite and stable. Well, let me give you one unpleasant example. In the 30s of the last century in Germany, there was also quite and stable population, and very cultivated population, the nation of Goethe and Schiller. In a few years, this very decent nation became fanatic Nazis. In just a few years. And we must admit that such a radicalisation or extremisation is possible also today.

So, what is the third risk? It is our hesitation and our lack of courage to realize the decisive action. My country, even if it is a small country, has its troops in Afghanistan, has its troops in Mali, and in other parts of the world.

But of course, it is not enough. What we need is a coordinated action of practically all the permanent members of the United Nations. But what has been done till these days? Let me give you one example only. What we need is, of course, a solid and firm platform, something like a comprehensive platform of the United Nations on international terrorism. And such a proposal was formulated by India in the year 2000. 2000! After 16 years, there is a lasting discussion about the definition of international terrorism. And international lawyers have been discussing this problem for 16 years. Thanks god I am not an international lawyer. And that’s why, for me a terrorist for me is everybody who kills intentionally innocent civilian people. That’s all. “Elementary, dear Watson.”  But unfortunately, the United Nations have been discussing this problem, this declaration for 16 years. Eh, I have some doubts about the efficiency of this international organization. Excuse me, Madam President.

Well, but this is not enough. So we have not such a platform. And last year, I proposed the creation of international forces equipped with drones, helicopters, Rangers and using communication among secret services. I was very happy to read the remarks of the Under-Secretary-General for peace-keeping operations, our French colleague who proposes the same and uses the experiences in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but also using the drones and helicopters in the fight against jihadists.

So, what we need is not a massive territorial operation. We have bad experience in Iraq, in Syria, in Libya. We were able to destroy, but we were not able to construct. But we must attack the sensitive points, nervous centers of international terrorism and not occupy the territory. We must attack the brain, not the body.

I hoped that there would be the resolution of the Security Council against terrorism, but again there is none. I read the first draft of such a resolution proposed by the Russian Federation but it doesn’t exist till now. And unfortunately, we do not use plenty of Articles of the Charter of the United Nations, staring with Article 39 and ending with Article 51. For example, I’ll give you only Article 47 which speaks about Military Command Committee and this Article is called in the terminology of the United Nations the “sleeping article”, or the “sleeping structure”. Let’s awake. If we have those articles, if have this charter, there is a chance and necessity to use it.

And I ask at the end, without those measures, without coordinated military action which will be based on the common will of the permanent members of the Security Council, the spreading of terrorism will continue and we shall meet new assassinations, new failed countries, new terroristic actions all over the world. Let me conclude, colleagues, by an old Roman slogan by Cato: “Ceterum autem censeo Cartaginem esse delendam.”

And deep in my heart, I do believe that we shall overcome the international terrorism, not Cartago some day.

Thank you very much for your attention.

Miloš Zeman, President of the Czech Republic, New York, USA, 21nd September 2016