Roza Otunbayeva

9/11 Remembrance - Sept. 11, 2011

Roza Otunbayeva
September 11, 2011— Manas, Kyrgyzstan
9/11 Remembrance Ceremony
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No man is an island, entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main... any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee," - wrote John Donne. The truth of these words, written by the English poet more than 300 years ago, has not faded away even today. As we are a part of mankind, the deaths of thousands of people in the United States on September 11, 2011, diminishes us in Kyrgyzstan.

Today the Kyrgyz Republic, like the entire world, shares the sorrow of our American friends in connection with loss of almost 3000 people of different nationalities, different origins and religions. Citizens of ninety countries died with Americans in Washington, New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania. This tragedy consolidated the international community and brought people closer together to counter terrorism as a common enemy.

The idea of jointly countering terrorism is a matter of particular significance for our country. In December 2001, the Kyrgyz Republic immediately responded to the governments of the United States, France, Canada, Australia, Italy, the Republic of Korea, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, and Poland, which appealed to us with the request to grant permission to use the facilities of the Manas Airport as a military base for Coalition forces in order to accomplish humanitarian and military missions in Afghanistan within the framework of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The hosting of the military base, later the Transit Center at Manas International Airport, is an important contribution of the Kyrgyz Republic in the common efforts of the global community to fight against terrorism. There is not a single country secure from new global threats and challenges such as international terrorism and religious extremism. At the end of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty-first centuries, terrorist and extremist acts swept over the world like a hurricane. They crossed almost all borders and touched upon almost all continents, including America, Africa, Europe and Asia.

Kyrgyzstan itself has directly suffered from these extremely dangerous challenges and endured the threat of the loss of our territorial integrity. We clearly remember the events of 1999-2000, when the guerillas of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan invaded Batken and Osh oblasts, intent on the establishment of an Islamic caliphate and the further spread of its influence within the region. At that time, in the north of Afghanistan there were a number of terrorist bases involving the citizens of numerous countries, including the CIS (Community of Independent States). And no one can say what would have happened in Central Asia, including in our country, if after the tragic events of 9/11, NATO's operation against international terrorism in Afghanistan had not been launched. Literally, this effort kept our territory safe from large scale incursions by Taliban terrorists and other extremist groups.

Today these radical-extremists, together with al Qaeda and the Taliban, have not given up their attempts to establish new terroristic citadels in Central Asia, including Kyrgyzstan. They are attempting to spread the message of a decisive overthrow of the existing constitutional order by any means, including by force.

In this light, we clearly understand the role and significance of the Transit Center. Kyrgyzstan continues to prove its support for the efforts of the world community on settlement of the situation in Afghanistan in accordance with its international commitments.

We are grateful to the world community, especially to the United States, for their assistance and support during the tragic events of June 2010, when the previous regime tried to take revenge, and to split the nation and the country with the involvement of international terrorist and religious extremist forces.

The Transit Center's operations in Kyrgyzstan have made an important contribution to strengthening the security of Afghanistan and the region as a whole. The continued operations are justified by the situation in Afghanistan and the need to support coalition forces in countering international terrorism and assisting in providing for the security and recovery of Afghanistan. The brilliant campaign of U.S. Special Forces to liquidate the world's No. 1 terrorist, Bin Laden, serves as an unquestionable demonstration of the effectiveness of the coalition forces.

The United States government has announced the intention to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan by 2014. We are confident that the Transit Center will play its important role in this process as well.

Dear participants -- we intend to further develop the existing high level political and diplomatic dialogue with our U.S. partners. I am confident that we will be able to increase our trade, economic ties and contracts between our countries. In this regard, the activity of the Transit Center should make a worthy contribution to further development of these bilateral relationships.

I think that there is only one cure for the rigid contradictions imposed upon mankind by terrorists of every stripe, who claim to be the only truth, and declare all those who are against it an "absolute evil". Only things such as dialogue between cultures and civilizations (East and West), mutual understanding and a reliance upon universal values can oppose such extreme intolerance.

I can state with confidence that the Kyrgyzstan of 2011 is much stronger than the Kyrgyzstan of 2001, both in terms of its statehood and in terms of its people. Despite the fact there are still many challenges and threats we have to overcome in the future, we know that we are not alone and we are full of optimism.

Dear participants - today, on the 11th of September, 2011 we bow our heads before all innocent victims of terrorism. They call us to join together the efforts of all people on our planet to fight against modern terrorism and extremism. This is because, as the poet once said:

"No man is an island,

entire of itself.

Every man is a piece of the continent,

a part of the main...

...Any man's death diminishes me,

because I am involved in mankind,

and therefore, never send to know

for whom the bell tolls,

it tolls for thee."

Thank you for your attention.