Intervention by H.E. Lennart Meri President of the Republic of Estonia At the Sofia Summit 2001 October 5, 2001

Facing New Threats: Solidarity and Security

Monsieur le Président,
Monsieur le Premier Ministre,
Chers collegues,

Tout d'abord, permettez-moi de joindre les intervenants précedents en remerciant le Président Stoyanov pour nous avoir invités aujourd'hui.

Je ne veux pas réiterer les dévelopments du dernier mois. Par revanche je vais focaliser sur nos futurs pas.

I will now continue in the second official NATO language.

The attack on the United States has shown the need for allies and the need to improve our cooperation. All of us in this room count ourselves as allies of the United States, whether we have a formal treaty relationship or not. But formal relationships are less important today than the very fact that countries that share common values of open societies, freedom of speech and religion and freedom of movement work together. This is what Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty is all about. Working together to protect our values, if need be by force.

However, the very fact that these attacks could take place shows that this cooperation has not been good enough. We need to exchange more and better intelligence, we have to guard our frontiers better, not to keep people out but to know exactly who is in. There is no excuse for lax security. Our banking laws have to be looked at with a view to making sure that they are as thorough as they should be. If terrorists are prevented from moving freely, if they are starved of cash, then we will have won a small victory.

In these changed circumstances, where the war to protect our security is fought not in large battles but behind computers and through the use of intelligence networks the size of a particular country is much less relevant. What counts much more is a country's commitment to stamping out this evil. Estonia is committed to this fight, because it is a fight for the survival of our way of life.

It has been said before but I believe that it is worth retelling. We must push international terrorism back into the hole where it belongs. We cannot retreat. As soon as we start retreating by travelling less, by restricting the freedoms of our citizens, then we will have lost. The island of democracy and prosperity is one that is continually under threat. It either expands or shrinks, like the universe of Fred Hoyle; it is not static. We must work to expand this island so that one day the sea of instability will be dry. That day may indeed never come, but we must work, biblically, in that direction.

Which is why fighting terrorism is not enough. We must work to pre-empt it. That means supporting democratic governments and rejecting undemocratic ones, rewarding behaviour that respects the sanctity of human life and gives equal access to education and putting governments under pressure that do not do so. It also means, in addition to providing development aid, opening up our markets so that developing countries can sell their products - including agricultural goods - in the countries of Europe and North America.

The terrorists live off poverty, they live off the impression that some countries aim to exploit others. They most certainly thrive in circumstances where people have no rights. Fighting terrorism means fighting it from all sides, by

- Destroying the terrorists,
- Strengthening our own defences,
- Forcing governments to stop harbouring terrorists,
- Pushing rulers to practice good governance
- And finally by offering the carrot of political and economic inclusion to those governments that do join our ranks.

Thank you.