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Hostage/Algeria/fight against terrorism

Published on September 24, 2014
Statement by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic
New York, September 23, 2014

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am here in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, and the Climate Summit in particular, since France is committed and is hosting a conference next year where an agreement must be reached on this issue, which is so crucial to the future of our planet.

But given the circumstances, I wanted to address you directly. One of our compatriots, a particularly courageous mountain climber named Hervé Gourdel, was kidnapped on Sunday evening [21 September] in Algeria in the mountainous region of Djurdjura, 100 kilometres from Algiers.

I spoke yesterday evening to the Algerian Prime Minister, Mr Sellal, to ensure the best possible cooperation and make sure that our agencies can exchange all information that may be useful. I have full confidence that the Algerian security forces will do everything they can to help us find our compatriot. He was captured by a terrorist group that says it is linked to Daesh [ISIL], which gives you an idea of the global threat.
My thoughts go to him right now – held captive, his life and existence threatened. I applaud the dignity and courage of his family, his whole family. I was able to speak to his partner this morning and to his parents as well. It is an ordeal, and in this ordeal, the family must know that it has France’s full solidarity and support.

I am also calling on all our compatriots in sensitive areas to exercise vigilance, because we are under threat, because we are combating terrorism, so it is important to take all necessary precautions and heed all the information issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, particularly in a number of regions. The Interior Minister himself has stepped up all surveillance measures to avert any possible threats of attack. We are making arrests whenever necessary. This in fact legitimizes the bill adopted by the National Assembly to further strengthen counter-terrorism efforts while respecting the law. As I said, we are facing a global threat. Which is therefore everywhere. Which is not only targeting France, which is targeting all countries where there is freedom, democracy, the rule of law. And I reaffirm here: as serious as this situation is, we will not give in to blackmail, to pressure or to ultimatums, even the most heinous, the most despicable. For what’s at stake is our freedom, our security and our sovereignty. No terrorist group can have the slightest influence on France’s position, France’s resolve, France’s freedom. Our best response to this threat, to this aggression, is national unity in this war – for a war it is – on terrorism. (…)./.

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