President Jacques Chirac
Speech to French Community in New York
New York City, New York
September 19, 2001
My dear fellow countrymen and women,
One week after the tragedy, for all of you, I know, there are feelings that
cannot be expressed. Those scenes of horror remain graven in your memories,
like the dust and ashes on the faces and clothing of the victims. The memories
of a friend or loved one of whom you still await news. Your hearts share the
grief of the entire city of New York. A city savagely attacked, now disfigured
and wounded. But a city dignified and proud, resolved to rise above this tragedy.
Each day, each hour even, New York is displaying its tremendous human and spiritual
resources, giving proof of its vitality, its boundless energy, its dauntless
courage, and also its fraternity. This resolve should send a message to the
terrorists that they have struck in vain.
This revolting crime is an abomination to the human conscience, and in the aftermath
I have come to meet the people of New York. I want to tell them, in the name
of France, that I share their grief. That I too mourn these innocent deaths,
all these victims, these thousands of lives cut off, these shattered families,
these orphans marked for ever by hatred and madness. My first thoughts, naturally,
are for the French, injured or missing.
The city of New York stands as a beacon of liberty, of the mingling of cultures
and peoples, of hope and human inventiveness, a cosmopolitan city bound to our
country by so many ties. To this city I want to express our friendship, our
confidence and our hope, that New York will rise again, finer and stronger.
More than ever, New York is the embodiment of the American dream.
But through my voice, and that is why I have come here, France wishes to testify
to its age-old ally, America, its solidarity and its fraternity in this ordeal.
One does not do deals with terrorism. The perpetrators of these barbarous acts
and their accomplices must be found and punished in accordance with the law.
I have told President Bush and the UN Secretary-General : France will stand
in the front line, shoulder-to-shoulder with America, in the fight against international
We must now draw the full lessons of this tragedy. In their blind hatred, these
terrorists will stop at nothing to achieve their ends.
They are organized, and they have considerable means at their disposal, derived
from the drug trade, crime and corruption. They are proficient in the latest
technologies, and they skillfully exploit to the fullest extent the possibilities
afforded by globalization, and all the freedoms available in our democracies.
But our societies are neither helpless nor powerless in the face of this seemingly
elusive scourge. Our effectiveness depends on our unity and our determination.
This is a question of courage and resolve. Faced with the horror of the attacks
on Washington and New York, the world must unite against terrorism.
In our open, tolerant societies, where we have conquered our freedoms in the
course of the centuries, we must be firm in drawing the line between what is
acceptable and what is not. Nothing can justify incitement to hatred. Nothing
can justify the recourse to blind violence, for it is always the innocent who
suffer: this is not the violence of battle, it is the violence of crime.
My dear fellow Frenchmen and women,
We all admire the sense of community New Yorkers are displaying in the face
of adversity. They are the soul and the strength of their city. I pay tribute
to the extraordinary bravery of the rescuers and firemen. Their sacrifice fills
me with awe. I salute the exemplary work of Mayor Rudolf Giuliani.
I know what an ordeal this is for you. You love New York. You came here to share
in the adventure of this unique city. Your sense of initiative and your dynamism
brought you here. Those same qualities make you strong today as you cope with
the tragedy that has struck this city, and as you comfort the bereaved.
But you are not alone. The whole of France is sharing in these dramatic events
with you. The Embassy and the Consulate-General have mobilized day and night
to help you. They are in constant contact with the crisis center at the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, which got to work without delay. Since September 11, there
has been a piece of America in the heart of every Frenchman and woman.
Together, we will prevail.
This was a dastardly crime, a vain crime. The scar will remain in our memory
forever. But already New York is picking itself up.
Long life to New York
Long live the United States
Long live France