Press statement by Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, 14 November 2015
Prime Minister Rutte’s reaction to the attacks in Paris
Ladies and gentlemen, the nightmare that unfolded in Paris last night is still reverberating loudly – in France and around the world – and at present the picture is still unclear. At this point, so soon after the attacks, the dominant emotions are of anger and disgust. What we know at this time is that perhaps as many as 140 innocent people have been killed in the most cold-blooded, barbaric and cowardly manner imaginable. Many dozens more are in hospital, severely wounded. Everything points to a well-planned and tightly organised attack, responsibility for which has now been claimed by ISIS. The spine-chilling reality of these attacks is now starting to sink in.
Today, let me say first of all that our hearts go out to the victims, to their next of kin and to the French people. We offer them our condolences and our support. And we have offered the French authorities all the help they can use. I communicated that message personally to President Hollande. At times like these, the bonds between us are stronger than ever. We share the same values, the same civilisation. The Netherlands stands side by side with France in protecting and defending everything we hold dear – our security and our freedom above all. I will therefore be ordering all government buildings in the Netherlands to fly their flags at half-mast on Monday.
Clearly, we must respond to an attack this outrageous. In France, the necessary security measures have been taken, and new ones are being planned. We are of course in close contact with neighbouring countries and with the relevant European institutions, and we will remain so in the coming period. And, naturally, we must consider what these attacks mean for our own country: do extra measures need to be taken? That discussion started last night, and I have just spoken again with the members of the government with the most relevant portfolios, and with the security services. Working jointly they will continue to monitor the situation closely.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism, which is overseeing our response, is in direct communication with the government. We are taking visible, and invisible, measures. Let me mention three specific subjects that we addressed in our discussion just now. First: all relevant services are at a heightened state of alert. Second: our border controls have been scaled up and tightened, especially with respect to all traffic traceable to France. This applies also to our airports and train stations. For reasons of security I can’t go into any more detail. But extra measures are in place. And third: major events, such as today’s celebrations of St Nicholas’ arrival, in Meppel and elsewhere, can go ahead as planned, though of course the police will be extra vigilant. I hope that it will be a peaceful and festive occasion everywhere. Because that is what I want to emphasise above all at this time: this is about our way of life. It’s about being able to eat out at a restaurant, or go to a football match, or attend a concert.
We are dealing with extremists who have only one goal: to destabilise our society by inciting hatred, sowing division and spreading fear. Our best response to these barbaric people is to show that we will not be divided. Not in the Netherlands. Not in Europe. Our values and our democratic legal order are stronger than the fanaticism of a small group. We will not be intimidated. We are in the majority and we will not bow to intolerance. Violence and extremism will never win out over freedom and humanity. We must remain calm and united, whatever the circumstances. All Dutch people, of all ages and all creeds. Together we must be watchful and alert, in our own streets, neighbourhoods and communities. Together we are strong and resilient.