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07 / 09 / 2004
Jiri Dienstbier, former Czechoslovakian Minister of Foreign Affairs: The worst violators of human rights are terrorists

The Forum's "141 Questions" (120): "Once there is an agreement for peace, what do we need to create it?" Jiri Dienstbier, expert in the processes of national reconstruction after war conflicts, stated that "there is no model solution" capable of guaranteeing peace after war. He recognized that in the last ten years peace has practically not taken root in the places where armed fighting has taken place. "Before taking action, you must understand very well what is going on in the areas of conflict," he stated. Defender of the role that the UN plays in the different international contexts, he qualified the right to veto as "non-democratic" even though he hurried in stressing that without this right "the United Nations would have disappeared during the Cold War."

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Jiri Dienstbier, former Czechoslovakian Minister of Foreign Relations, former spokesman of the "Group of the 77," and former Special UN Rapporteur for Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Republic of Croatia, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, stressed that the Forum Site's Haima Stage that "there is no possible excuse that justifies any type of terrorism." In his point of view, any commentary or proposal that distinguishes between "good and bad terrorists" is absolutely unacceptable. "The worst violators of human rights are terrorists," he assured.

In regards to the serious situation that took place in Chechenya and the latest tragedy of Beslan, Dienstbier commented that "conflict is the result of a bad final solution to the colonial empire" of the former Soviet Union. After pointing out that the immediate information provided by the media "doesn't give us time to think," and that the politics of Moscow "are inefficient and generate corruption," he admitted that the way out is very complicated because, among other reasons, "we have to take into account the additional problem of the international terrorist mafias, independent groups that give each other mutual support, that often have more money and material than the local defense forces, and who have leaders that constantly change locations." So, he assured us that "among the terrorists at the school in Beslan, there were seven or eight members of Al Qaeda," and he demanded a strong international resolute cooperation that rejects unilateral initiatives.

From his extensive experience in national reconstruction processes following armed conflicts, he stressed, “There is a not a single model or solution” that can guarantee peace after war. He admitted that in the last ten years peace has not taken root in those places where armed conflicts were in course: “It is essential to understand well what is going on in the conflict zones,” he pointed in clear allusion to the case of Iraq and its fierce war based “on false motives and lacking plans on how to proceed after the defeat of Hussein.”

Jiri Dienstbier reviewed some of points in regards to the Balkans and explained that accepting de facto the division of former Yugoslavia without political accord was the first mistake. He described the current situation of a divided Bosnia-Herzegovina counting on tens of thousands of troops of the international forces, while Croatia and Serbia “make efforts to create democratic systems” while he mentioned Kosovo and the bursting of a conflict that has not improved at all after years despite the fact of being under administration by the United Nations. He was not optimistic about the prospects in Afghanistan: “We are not sure if they will overcome this stage: the Talibans are back in action and Al Qaeda is trying to do the same.”

With regard to the UN, Dienstbier welcomed the good results of UN agencies Unesco, WHO and FAO, among others, who are safeguarding the world heritage and working for the eradication of disease and the implementation of campaigns to combat hunger. He reminded that “it is made up of States,” and therefore any criticism should be addressed to those States. However, he was confident that the opportunity of countries in conflict to meet with other countries that act as intermediaries in the context of this organization can be very positive. He called the right of veto “undemocratic,” although he recognized that, had it not been for this instrument, the “United Nations would have disappeared during the Cold War era.”

Jiri Dienstbier stated that he was against the separation of Czechlaslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, "After 1989, we had a very good image thanks to the way that, in spite of being a multiethnic state, we changed from communism to democracy. We lost this credit when we separated. One large market was good for us, but we split into two small markets." Nonetheless, the relations between the Czech Republic and Slovakia "are outstanding," he concluded.