"Terrorism is not a policy but an instrument," said deputy director of the Centre Dmitri Trenin. "The goal of Shamil Basayev and his likes is to destabilise the situation not only in the North Caucasus but also in the Volga Region, to undermine the people's trust in the Kremlin administration, to unleash a war, to split Russia and to create a Muslim caliphate on its ruins. The al-Qaida comrades of Chechen terrorists pursue similar goals. They are trying to involve Washington in the struggle in the Islamic world, to use it in order to replace authoritarian regimes in some major Arab countries, which they want to unite under radical slogans, and to dictate their conditions to the world."
What can the world do to resist these trends?
According to the Centre director Andrew Kuchins, non-voting member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexei Arbatov, Foreign Ministry official Alexander Yegorov, and deputy director of the PIR Centre for Policy Studies in Russia Yuri Fyodorov, Russia and the US, European countries, Israel, and possibly India and China should join their forces in the struggle against terrorism.
The time has come to forget about contradictions that hinder the unification of such efforts and to focus on the main task of preventing terrorist attacks, said Andrew Kuchins. To attain this goal, we should create more confident and close relations between the intelligence services, exchange preemptive information, supply modern anti-terrorist equipment and weapons, exchange experience that has been accumulated, in particular, by the security services of Tel Aviv, and most importantly, rally the political will for such co-operation and readiness to ask for and accept the assistance of other countries.
Many of the speakers supported the ideas voiced by President Vladimir Putin at the latest enlarged session of the Russian government. He said that the drawbacks of the struggle against terrorism are rooted in the corruption and lack of professionalism of the law enforcement and security structures and in the absence of a legislation for such struggle.
"In fact, a war has been going on in the North Caucasus for ten years, yet no law on the state of emergency there has been adopted," said former deputy chairman of the State Duma defence committee Alexei Arbatov. "We do not have the legal foundation for the actions of our troops in Chechnya and Ingushetia, as well as other North Caucasian republics. There is no centre for the struggle against terrorism, and the borders, both state and administrative, have not been closed. There is no peace plan for the reconstruction of Chechnya designed for many years, and there is no strict state control over the disposal of appropriations for the economic and social rehabilitation of the republic. Taken together, this is undermining the people's trust for the sincere desire of the authorities to restore law and order in that territory and to cleanse it of bandits and tormentors."
"Terrorism cannot be defeated if we use double standards in dealing with it," said Yuri Fyodorov. "This concerns individual European countries, where Chechen envoys guilty of terrorism find asylum and assistance, as well as some members of the Russian authorities, who have not determined their attitude to Palestine and the separatist regimes in the Transcaucasus."
Major General Vladimir Zolotarev, deputy director of the Institute of the USA and Canada, Russian Academy of Sciences, Major General (Ret.) Vladimir Dvorkin, senior researcher of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, and other speakers criticised the Russian political and military leaders for shortcomings in the struggle against terrorism.
They spoke about the weakness of the Russian economy. This prevents the country from taking resolute actions to supply its law enforcement and security structures with modern weapons and fire control systems, which can control the situation in the zone of terrorist actions around the clock and collect reliable intelligence information necessary for counteracting terrorists in real time.
Much was said also about the gap between the authorities and the people, who frequently remain indifferent to the struggle of the federal centre against terrorists and keep away from this difficult and dangerous work.
Nearly all participants in the roundtable conference agreed that there can be no political talks with terrorists, which some Western politicians are advocating. There are no "moderate separatists" with whom one can come to an agreement in Chechnya, and most field commanders are up to their necks in blood and force is the only language they understand.