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Thursday, November 18, 1999 Published at 16:03 GMT

Full text of Boris Yeltsin's speech

Boris Yeltsin points to his watch while waiting for Bill Clinton to take his seat

The following is the text of President Yeltsin's speech to the summit of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Istanbul.

This OSCE summit is the last of the outgoing century, which means it can sum up the results of our joint activity, but also - what is even more important - elaborate common approaches to the future of Europe in the 21st Century.

Russia is firmly intent on businesslike co-operation in the context of this summit. I am convinced that both for Russia and for other members of the OSCE what is especially necessary is dialogue based on respect and not mutual recriminations and moralizing.

We all have an equal interest in stability and security throughout Europe. The years the OSCE has existed, and particularly this year, have given rise to great expectations and at the same time to powerful disappointments.

Global challenges

Europe has found itself confronted with fresh challenges - challenges of a global character, the nature of which is directly connected with changes in the international climate and the difficulties of seeking new models for co-operation.

Such dangers as breach of strategic stability, transnational crime and the spread of nuclear weapons are at this time topical for all European states.

Finally, we have all felt what evil international terrorism brings.

These challenges can be successfully met only by acting together.

We, Russia, are prepared to work with others. I am convinced that stability and security in Europe cannot be considered without taking Russia into account.

'No right to criticise Russia'

You have no right to criticise Russia over Chechnya.

A total of 1,580 people, the civilian population, suffered as a result of the bloody wave of terrorist acts that swept over Moscow and other towns and villages of our country.

The pain of this tragedy was felt by thousands of families in all corners of Russia. In the past three years, terrorists kidnapped 935 hostages - not just Russians, but Britons, Americans, Frenchmen.

Some 200 captives are still being held by bandits, and they are being subjected to terrible torture - one simply cannot remain indifferent.

A sense of proportion and humanitarian action are not issues for terrorists. Their aim is that of killing and destroying.

We are grateful to those who at difficult times showed solidarity with us, with what the people of Russia are going through, and still are doing so.

Cancer of terrorism

At the same time, we do not accept the prescriptions of the so-called objective critics of Russia, those who have failed to understand that we are quite simply obliged to put a stop in good time to the spread of the cancerous tumour of terrorism, to stop it spreading far beyond the North Caucasus and even outside the Russian Federation.

Thousands of mercenaries, who have trained in camps on the territory of Chechnya as well as come in from abroad, are actually preparing to impose extremist ideas on the whole world.

We are well aware from which countries and through which countries the terrorists are receiving support. In the immediate future I shall be calling upon the leaders of these states to put a stop to this kind of activity.

International terrorism is throwing down a challenge, and not just to Russia.

It was not born in Russia and the terrorists' ultimate target is not at all the Caucasus.

No talks with 'bandits'

I would like to stress here that a lasting peace in the Chechen republic and so-called peace talks with the bandits are not the same thing, and I would ask everyone to make no mistake about that.

There will be no talks with bandits and murderers.

We want peace and a political solution to the situation in Chechnya.

To achieve this, there has to be complete elimination of the gangs, eradication of the terrorists or their prosecution.

Not all the ideas which have come up during discussion of the future of Europe seem well-founded to us.

I refer to calls for humanitarian intervention in the affairs of another state - a new idea, this - even when they are made under the pretext of defending human rights and freedoms.

Nato 'aggression'

We all already know to what disproportionate consequences this kind of intervention can lead - suffice to recall USA-led Nato aggression against Yugoslavia.

Now, on the threshold of a new era, it has become topical as never before that the principal commandment of our joint actions in Europe should be: "Do no harm!"

When signing today - and I stress the word today, because the Russian delegation is flying back later today - the European Security Charter, we regard it as a kind of code of honest and fair relations throughout OSCE, not just a code of rights, but also a code of mutual responsibility.

We see it as a guarantee of safe and happy life in our continent. We see it as our joint contribution to the formation of a multipolar world in the 21st Century. Russia is willing to share this responsibility with all the nations of Europe.

Source: Russian Public TV, Moscow, in Russian 18 Nov 99

BBC Monitoring (, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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