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Statement by H.E. Mr. Natan Sharansky

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Construction of the State of Israel 

Please allow me to extend my sincere gratitude to the Government of Kazakhstan, which not only initiated the establishment of the CICA, but which exerted considerable efforts in bringing about the final text of the Almaty Act. We greatly appreciate the role which Kazakhstan has taken upon itself in hosting the various delegations of the summit, and in promoting regional security. Particularly, I would like to extend my gratitude to President of Kazakhstan, Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev, Foreign Minister Tokayev and Deputy Foreign Minister Abuseitov; it would have been difficult to imagine the progress of the CICA's work, without the time and efforts invested by them.

The importance of CICA for Central Asia and the adjacent regions, including the Middle East,lies in tile practical implementation of the princples constituting the Almaty Act: regional security, tools for developing mutual trust, the struggle against terror, disarmament, and cooperation in various spheres.

The opportunities created by this conference are far greater than the mere exchange of opinions among the highest echelons of government, or the signing of a joint declaration. It would suffice to recall the Helsinki Conference on security and cooperation held in Europe in 1975 and the Final Act that it approved in order to assess the potential of the CICA. Then, the European nations, together with the US and Canada, agreed upon the necessary steps for minimizing military confrontation, bolstering economic cooperation, and developing and strengthening the democraticprincples of the countries participating in tile conference. These principles became the basis for building a safer and freeer world.

I am glad to see today at our conference the leaders of those countries that were part of the Helsinki process whose citizens today enjoy the benefits of this changed world, which has become more secure, more democratic and more free.

Central Asia, the area of the world in which we are gathered today, is a huge region with a boundless supply of natural and human resources, a unique history, and a fantastically rich culture. It holds not only a tremendous past, but a great potential for a promising future. I believe that it is imperative for this future to be built upon the princi pies of security,freedom and cooperation - those princi pies which comprise an integral part of the Almaty Act.

The importance of this foundation is increased significantly today, when the great global schism no longer divides East and West, a world of capitalism and a world of communism, or the world of Christianity and the world of Islam. Today, the world is divided between those for whom human life is paramount, and those for whom an individual life is viewed as an expendable card to be played in a game of threat and extortion; between those who search for peace and cooperation, and see compromise as the way to realize it and those for whom war and terror constitute the necessary and the central means for attaining their goals.

There were many debates about the definition of terror. We believe that definition is very simple: targeting innocent citizens for reaching political aims.

Since it's creation Israel struggled for peace and stability in the Middle East and still hope to achieve it in a near future.

But in the mean time we, in Israel, face the bloody results of the terror on a daily basis - on the street, in the market-place, on the buses. This terror is not static. It develops and strengthens itself, it strives to attain weapons of mass destruction. We must all work together to withstand its threat. We must combat it, and vanquish it - for the future of our children, our nations, and tile future of the world. At the same time, we are fully aware of the fact that no military victory in this struggle will by itself bring about the firm peace, tranquility and stability, for which we so yearn. Such a victory has to be followed by the steps aimed at building a prosperous and democratic society. It is necessary to free the educational system and the social political environment from the incitement of terror and violence. We must do everything so that respect for cultural and national traditions and the uniqueness of peoples will become the accepted norm. The only guarantee for this can be the establishment of a new democratic, world, based on the principles of mutual respect, cooperation and willingness to reach compromises.

This holds true in respect to Europe, it holds true in respect to Asia, it also holds true in respect to the Middle East. I am glad that today we are signing the Almaty Act in which all these principles are fully reflected, and if we only make serious efforts to implement them will bring us closer to a new,democratic,stable and flourishing world - one without terror and violence.