Democracy must beat terrorism: Madrid summit

9th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

9 March 2005, MADRID- World leaders and terrorism experts at an international conference in Madrid said the world needs to work together to combat terrorism and not stray from democratic solutions.

9 March 2005

MADRID- World leaders and terrorism experts at an international conference in Madrid said the world needs to work together to combat terrorism and not stray from democratic solutions.

The conference is to mark the first anniversary of the Spain's worst terrorist attack on 11 March, when 191 people were killed and more than 1,500 injured.

Twenty-two people have been jailed so far in connection with the 2004 bombs.

The attack was claimed by a Moroccan cell with links to al-Qaeda, and most of the arrested are Moroccan citizens.

A number of world leaders are attending the summit, including UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, as well as heads of state such as King Juan Carlos of Spain and King Mohammed VI of Morocco.

Former US President Bill Clinton, who had also been due to attend, cancelled his appearance "for health reasons".

It was announced on Tuesday he was due to return to hospital for another heart operation, six months after undergoing quadruple heart bypass surgery.

"We all have to work on a common way to face these threats," Lee Hong-Koo, a former prime minister of South Korea, warned at the four-day conference.
 
"The damage terrorism could bring to any city of any nation".

"Unless we have a common standard to deal with terrorism we cannot succeed," said Lee, stressing that applied as much for countries with centuries of democratic tradition as well as others, "which like my country, South Korea, are new democracies".

Some 200 former and current leaders have converged on Madrid this week for the conference.

Lee, ex-Irish president and UN rights chief Mary Robinson and former president of Cape Verde, Antonio Mascharenhas Monteiro, who briefed reporters on the sidelines of the conference, all underlined the need for democratic standards in fighting terrorism.

Robinson warned of a "knock-on effect of a lowering of standards" in the pursuit of terrorist suspects.

She singled out the United States for taking draconian measures against terror suspects, detaining some without trial at Guantanamo Bay on Cuba following the conflict in Afghanistan, in Washington's attempt to prosecute a global "war on terror."

And she warned that democracies, had, in seeking to combat terrorism, to address the root causes of terrorism, the "anger, frustration and despair" of groups who perceive themselves as marginalized.

Cape Verde's Monteiro warned against accepting religion as an "excuse" for fomenting terrorist violence.

"Violence can never be an option for religion. Religion preaches love, tolerance and harmony," he said, warning against false "interpretations" of religious doctrines.

"Blind hatred has nothing to do with a religious cause," Monteiro opined.

He said tackling poverty had to go side by side with terrorism.

"We must combat poverty. The rich countries bear an enormous responsibility here," Monteiro said, while echoing Robinson's warning on abuses within a democracy.

"Terrorism is a scourge, but we must defeat it within the confines of the law and democracy. It would be wrong to use terror to defeat terror," he warned.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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