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French officials react to attacks in Brussels

French officials react to attacks in Brussels

Published on March 22, 2016
President Hollande and Foreign Minister Ayrault express their solidarity with the Belgian people.

Communiqué issued by the Presidency of the Republic
Paris - March 22, 2016

The French President expresses his full solidarity with the Belgian people.

He is in constant contact with the Belgian authorities to lend them all the support they might need in these tragic circumstances.

The attacks in Brussels strike at the whole of Europe. This means it must take the essential measures, given the seriousness of the threat. France, which was attacked itself in January and November 2015, is playing its full part in this. It will continue to fight terrorism implacably, at both international and domestic level.

In these circumstances, the French government has decided to further step up the security operation and policing at the borders and on transport infrastructure.

The President expresses his sincere condolences to the victims’ families and close friends, and his full friendship to Belgium.

Statements by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic

President François Hollande spoke about the attacks in Brussels in a preamble to the Strategic Attractiveness Council.
Paris - March 22, 2016

We are having a meeting of the Conseil de l’attractivité [Strategic Attractiveness Council] today, but you are fully aware of what has just happened in Brussels, where craven, heinous attacks were perpetrated, killing many people and injuring several dozen others.

I want here to express my solidarity, my friendship with the Belgian people and the Belgian authorities, who are going through an extremely difficult time, and tell the families concerned how much they are in our thoughts, so that their grief is shared.

Terrorism has struck Belgium, but it was Europe which was targeted, and this concerns the whole world. We must realize the scale and seriousness of the terrorist threat. These attacks come after others. Paris was especially targeted last year, in January and November. Other continents have been affected – I’m thinking of Africa. But we face a global threat which demands a global response.

France and Belgium are linked, linked by the horror we have once again just shared. And I guaranteed the Belgian government all essential support so that we can provide all the resources necessary.

The war against terrorism must be waged throughout Europe, with the resources that are necessary, particularly as far as intelligence is concerned. We’ll still have to ensure that the decisions are actually implemented. We must also take action internationally. That’s what France is doing in the framework of a coalition in the Middle East, in Syria and Iraq. It’s what France is doing in Africa. But it’s also what each of the most concerned countries must embark on internationally.

We also have to wage this war against terrorism by showing all the necessary vigilance. That’s why, this very day, the French government has taken measures to strengthen border control mechanisms and also increase the presence of police, gendarmes and soldiers on all transport infrastructure, at airports and train stations.
This war against terrorism must be waged calmly, clear-sightedly, resolutely, because it will be long. We must devote the essential resources to it. That’s what we’ve been doing in France for several years, with legislative mechanisms, which must both be effective and respect freedoms.

Finally, we must ensure more than ever that we’re united. I’m talking about unity at European level. I could also talk about unity at global level, for countries that want to take action against terrorism. But the most essential unity is at national level. And everyone must be aware that in this period we have to come together, be cohesive and also show solidarity. Today it’s with Belgium, yesterday it was with France that countries expressed their solidarity. We’re all aware that this concerns us all. And that’s why I wanted, at the beginning of this meeting—as we discuss the investments you can make in our own country, in Europe—to be with you, but to focus on this subject too.

Because there will be no economic development, there will be no sustainable investment, unless there’s security first. And attractiveness also presupposes security. And so we must assure you that every step is being taken—here in France but more broadly in Europe, and I’m speaking on France’s behalf—so that you can assure your staff, ensure you can also invest in France in complete confidence, but above all in complete security. Thank you.

Statement by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, outside the Belgian Embassy
Paris - March 22, 2016

I wanted to come to the Belgian Embassy in France with Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to express, on behalf of the whole of France, our solidarity with the Belgian people; we have the victims and their families and close friends in our thoughts.

Last year it was Paris. Today it’s Brussels. They’re the same attacks. They’re terrorists. They’re people who want to wage war against our freedoms, democracy and what we represent.

We’re asking the whole of Europe to be fully conscious of the fact that through what happened today in Brussels, Europe is the target – what it represents, its values and principles. We must coordinate our efforts even further, promote an even stronger policy as regards intelligence and counter-terrorism, and shoulder all our responsibilities.

France, which itself has suffered, is doing its bit. But we’ll succeed only if we’re united. United, we’ll triumph. We’ll triumph against terrorism.

We also have to make sure we involve every country in this battle, all those which are also stricken—I’m thinking of the Maghreb, Tunisia, I’m thinking of Africa, I’m thinking too of what’s happening in the Middle East. This is all caused by the same thing: Islamist fundamentalist terrorism, which seeks to destabilize regions and countries. So we’ve got to act, act together, fight the causes and fight these terrorists too.

This is what France is doing. Belgium has always supported it. So today France stands alongside the Belgian people at this extremely difficult time, fully supporting it, with our deepest affection and warmest friendship.

I’ve also decided, with the Prime Minister, to fly flags at half-mast in our country and ensure that each of our local authorities, I’m sure [this will happen]—the city of Paris has already taken an initiative—, can come together as one to support Belgium in this way. Thank you.

Statements by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development

Telephone conversation between M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and Mr Didier Reynders, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and European Affairs
Paris - March 22, 2016

After the horrific attacks which struck Belgium this morning, I telephoned my Belgian counterpart, Didier Reynders, to tell him how appalled France is. This conversation allowed us to take stock of the tragic situation in Brussels, which has resulted in many people being killed and injured.

At this tragic time, our thoughts go first to these casualties, their families and close friends.

I told Belgium of France’s solidarity and reaffirmed that we stand united with our Belgian friends in this terrible ordeal.

My Belgian colleague and I stressed the urgency of coordinating our action even further when it comes to fighting terrorism.

Reply by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, to a question in the National Assembly
Paris - March 22, 2016

Once again democracy is being attacked, and a blow has been struck to Europe a stone’s throw from its institutions, where the attacks took place. Yet, more than ever, Brussels embodies, and more than ever will embody, European solidarity.

Today the hearts of French people beat for Brussels. I spoke to my counterpart, Didier Reynders, to tell him that France is at one with the Belgian people and that we’re totally committed, as the Prime Minister said a few moments ago, to fighting terrorism together.

As you pointed out, the savages, the terrorists hesitate at nothing and have no more limits; they’ve hit Tunisia, they’ve hit Côte d’Ivoire, they’ve hit Turkey, Burkina Faso, Somalia and Mali. But wherever democracy is attacked, we shall respond with strength and determination; wherever lives are stolen, we shall respond with courage and solidarity.

To be effective, as you pointed out, this response must be global, it must be European. And, indeed, it’s a matter of urgency to implement the decisions already taken and the commitments which have been announced. This applies to the exchange of air passenger data, which the European Parliament must finally adopt.

But the same goes for controlling our external borders. The creation of a European border guard corps has been decided; it must be implemented in practice.

But mobilizing also means mobilizing internationally to eradicate the source of barbarism. So, [this means] fighting Daesh [so-called ISIL] militarily in Iraq and Syria, but also making headway—as the negotiators in Geneva are doing—on a political solution in Syria. And also providing help to the countries which need it, particularly in Africa, as we’re doing with the European countries. This was also my message to Tunisia, which we must help to ensure security and development.

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