Official speeches and statements - March 24, 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.
This morning Brussels, the heart of Europe, the seat of our European institutions, was struck by Islamist terrorism, by the unleashing of the ideology of death that afflicted our country in January and November 2015. Everyone fully understands that what’s been happening in Brussels for several days now is directly linked to what we experienced a few weeks ago. Europe, which has already been struck, is in mourning again. All our thoughts go to the very many victims and their families. I extend France’s wholehearted support to the Belgian people, who are our friends and neighbours. We stand with them, united in suffering in the face of the acts of war that have just occurred - because we are at war. Europe is at war, because Islamic State, Daesh, has declared war on it.
As the French President, I myself and the Foreign, Interior and Defence Ministers said on Saturday, the arrest of one individual and his accomplices is no reason to feel relieved. We know that it’s one step and the war goes on. We’re up against a terrorist organization with unprecedented firepower and with logistical organization on a scale never seen before - we must all bear in mind the number of individuals involved in organizing these attacks. It has its strongholds, its networks and its cells. It’s recruiting, mobilizing and indoctrinating in the very heart of our societies.
In the name of radical Islam and a totalitarian ideology, Daesh, but also branches of al-Qaeda - which are engaged in a kind of competition of terrorist violence - share a hatred of democracy. That’s why they’re striking on our soil. That’s why they’re striking in Europe, today in Belgium, recently in Tunisia, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire, and again yesterday evening in Mali. France, Europe, Africa and the Middle East will again be targeted and struck. We must never lose sight of this certainty. We must respond together with the greatest strength, the greatest determination and the greatest calm.
We’ll respond militarily with our armed forces deployed in Iraq, Syria and the Sahel. We’re protecting French people on national territory. We’re living under the state of emergency and we’ve adopted legislation aimed at strengthening it. You’ve just adopted, here in the National Assembly, ladies and gentlemen deputies, a bill presented by the Keeper of the Seals aimed at strengthening the power of police, gendarmes and judges to take action. This very day, in view of the situation, the Interior Minister has sent the préfets [high-ranking civil servants who represent the state at the level of the department or region] a circular aimed at strengthening the security measures already in force. All this is in addition to the deployment of police, gendarmes and soldiers announced this morning by Bernard Cazeneuve with a view to strengthening all the mechanisms already deployed on our soil for months, such as border control.
We’re doing all this together. It’s one strength of our democracy that the majority and the opposition can face up to the terrorist threat together. We must also take action at European level, as you yourself, Mr President, and the Interior Minister, have recalled. Europe is under attack. So, contrary to what we sometimes hear, the response must also be European. Our area of freedom must also be an area of security. France will continue to pull all its weight, because this is an emergency, as the President, I myself and the Interior Minister constantly repeat. As for the PNR [Passenger Name Record], it’s due to be debated jointly with another subject at the European Parliament in April. I, in turn, say it’s time to adopt it. I say so in particular to the socialist and environmental groups in the European Parliament.
Everyone must shoulder their responsibilities. The government of France needs everyone’s support, particularly that of the European Parliament. We’ve wasted enough time on this issue. We must take action on stepping up border controls.
Finally, acting against the terrorist threat and eradicating jihadism will be a long-drawn-out battle, a battle against radicalization first of all. We’ve established an unprecedented detection, monitoring and handling mechanism at departmental level. But we’ll need time to flesh it out and develop it to prevent individuals from becoming radicalized. It’s no doubt a matter of several years, if not a generation.
The Interior Minister I have been working for many weeks to update the plan for combating terrorism and radicalization adopted in April 2004. The plan will be revised in the next month. (...)
Ladies and gentlemen deputies, a war has been declared on us, against what we are, against our values. In unity and respect for our law, with the greatest firmness and pride in being French, and while upholding these universal values, we must win this war, and we’re giving ourselves every means to do so. (...)
We had a meeting chaired by the President, in which the Interior, Defence and Foreign Ministers took part, to guarantee the security of our borders and of our transport infrastructure.
To date, 5,000 police and gendarmes have been mobilized to monitor our borders, first and foremost in the north. At these 220 checkpoints, 42 of which are permanent, six million individual checks have been carried out. These checks have already - and this illustrates the action of our security forces - enabled us to prevent 10,000 individuals from entering our country.
This operation will immediately be beefed up with an additional 1,600 police and gendarmes distributed among the different border crossing points and on air, rail and sea transport infrastructure.
As I’ve said - and as Bernard Cazeneuve has also emphasized -, we’ll continue our fight against terrorism at European level, because Europe, the Europe of freedoms and of the Schengen Area, must also be, for our compatriots, safe.
I want to stress two points. First of all, with the support of the vast majority of deputies and senators, which has never been expressed so widely - although it’s true we’ve never had to face such a significant threat -, we’ve never done so much to protect our compatriots.
I’m thinking in particular of the vote on two anti-terrorism bills, two bills focused on intelligence, of the examination (...) of the bill on criminal procedure, and of the additional resources allocated to the security forces, especially our armed forces.
This approach will have to continue over time: indeed, it’s not a matter for this five-year term alone. In the face of a threat that is going to last, this national effort to support our security forces, the justice system and the fight against radicalization will have to be made over the long term.
Finally, this is a battle for democracy and not a battle of West against East, or of Christians against Muslims, who today are the first victims of terrorism in the world.
The anonymous victims of Brussels and Paris are of all religions, all colours and all origins. So it’s a battle for democracy. And we must fight with the weapons of democracy, the strength of the rule of law, and the power and the conviction we possess, against the terrorism which is striking in Africa and the Middle East - including against our Israeli friends - and against ourselves.
We’ve entered into a war we must win because, quite simply, our fundamental identity is at stake.
Since 2012, as Interior Minister and today as Prime Minister, together with Bernard Cazeneuve, I’ve been playing an active role, with a single objective: the fight against terrorism.
In the summer of 2012, I addressed the Senate and the National Assembly during the presentation of the first counter-terrorism bill. We’d already all detected the phenomenon of Syrian and Iraqi networks which, over time, demonstrated to us the deep-seated evil afflicting us: young people, French or living in France - individuals who leave for Syria or Iraq and come back to France to kill their compatriots.
To tackle this threat - and this is unprecedented - we mobilized the state, our security forces and our armed forces, and we must continue.
To protect French people, together we passed two anti-terrorism bills, two intelligence bills, we set in motion the law on criminal procedure, which further strengthens the capabilities of the security forces and the justice system, and we decreed the state of emergency.
At this time, although we don’t yet know the number of dead and injured, and we don’t know whether the attacks involved any compatriots, I’d like us to make progress together, both now and in the future, including on measures like the one you propose. We’re ready to examine all measures that might be effective, in the framework of the rule of law which applies in our country and with due respect for our values.
We’ve also shown ourselves to be making progress on counter-terrorism laws and on the law reforming the code of criminal procedure, even though there was ultimately no constitutional reason - it wasn’t necessary to obtain a qualified majority or an identical vote [by the Senate and the National Assembly].
We considered, with the Justice Minister, that Senators Mercier and Bas’s bill substantially reflected what the government was proposing and what the National Assembly fleshed out. So we can move forward and look at this bill closely.
This afternoon, as we do every fortnight, several members of the government and I will have meetings with the assembly presidents, the chairmen of the relevant committees and the chairmen of the parliamentary groups to carry out a very detailed review of the threat status, which will be even more detailed following the terrible Brussels attacks.
The government is open to all proposals in order to move forward together, and we’ve demonstrated this. But at these moments, quite apart from the effectiveness of our security forces, our armed forces, the justice system and the fight against radicalization, symbols have importance. Given the threat posed by over 2,000 individuals involved in the Iraqi-Syrian networks and the thousands of individuals and young people who might become radicalized - which, in a way, tears up the Republican pact -, given this threat in the world, in Europe, in our country and our neighbourhoods which we discussed yesterday with the representatives of Islam, what’s the response?
It’s a long-term response, which has to include this good question: what does it mean to be French? How can we for one moment tolerate some of our compatriots turning against us and, in the name of an ideology, killing our compatriots and our values?
This question is for every one of you. Let’s move forward together on all these issues and not just one or two of them.
A few hours after the Brussels attacks, the Interior Minister chaired a meeting of the Euro 2016 management committee. The meeting, which was planned a long time ago, was co-chaired with Patrick Kanner, Minister of Urban Affairs, Youth and Sport.
It brought together the elected representatives of the host cities and the préfets [high-ranking civil servants who represent the state] of the departments concerned, as well as Alain Juppé, Mayor of Bordeaux and President of the Euro 2016 Host Cities’ Club.
The management committee’s goal is to share the various data the [intelligence] services have in the security field, so that all stakeholders can play an active role, given the particular situation France and its European neighbours are experiencing.
While the Interior Minister recalled the high level of threats France and its partners are facing, he nevertheless said Euro 2016 will indeed take place, but he stressed the need to be flexible enough to constantly adapt to the situation.
Bernard Cazeneuve emphasized the security operation put in place in the 10 fan zones. Access to these will be made secure and monitored. For example, there will be systematic pat-down searches at entrances. These areas will also be monitored on a permanent basis, using CCTV systems. The state will fund 80% of these CCTV systems i.e. €2 million.
There will also be reception and guidance points to facilitate the movement of spectators.
The Interior Minister said the state «will shoulder all its responsibilities» throughout the country.
Police, gendarmes, firefighters, first-aid workers and emergency doctors taking part in the event have been specially trained. More than 50 security exercises will take place between now and the Euro 2016 kick-off on 10 June. These exercises are aimed at testing the alert and rescue chains in the event of a security incident. Dozens of scenarios have been imagined, as was the case in Nîmes on 17 March.
With 80 days to go until the start of the competition, the organizers, the cities and the state services are fully mobilized.
Euro 2016 must be an event where everyone can celebrate.