Prime Minister Tony Blair
Press Conference With German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder
September 19, 2001
Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Now obviously Prime Minister Blair and myself
we have both felt that it is a human necessity that we stand out and that we
say how we see the terrible assaults on the cities of New York and Washington,
on the United States of America as a whole, that we do not in any way see them
just as an assault on the United States of America that we see them, as I also
said repeatedly beforehand, as an assault on the civilised world that we are
We are also very much in agreement that what we are talking about here is by
no means a clash of civilisations. This is crime in its most extremist, terrorist
form. And we also find it very important that in the light of these events we
must differentiate very strongly between the perpetrators of these attacks,
we cannot just go in and mow (?) them down. We dont want to do this either.
Islam as a religion, or Islamic countries, not at all. But we very much agree
that we want to provide unswerving and strong solidarity to the United States
of America. I am referring to this solidarity in terms of political approaches,
in economic terms, and also if needed in military terms too.
We also very strongly agree that this aforementioned full solidarity does not
just restrict itself to military support alone. It cannot and it must certainly
not stop there. There has to be much more. And we find it particularly important
that these measures are accompanied by political measures on lots of different
levels too. That is why we also very strongly welcome the initiative, the momentum
that we now see being sparked in the Middle East again. But there seems to be
a new possibility of refuelling the peace process, and it has filled us with
a certain degree of satisfaction that we have seen that the United States of
America have also committed themselves to fuelling this process too.
Now we are also very much agreed that we need to be thinking about a huge and
a decisive agenda for the mid and long term after these assaults. It will have
to be a very decisive agenda inciting (?) terrorism on a global scale. We really
need to go in and dry up the swamp of terrorism that obviously is in existence
there, and we have to push these measures and this decisive agenda, nationally
speaking obviously but also on an international level. Now the next opportunity
to do so will be this coming Friday at the European Council Meeting in Brussels.
The focus for that is obvious: anti-terrorism measures for the whole of Europe,
and the Prime Minister and myself have already agreed that British, German and
French Ministers of Interior Affairs will be told to go in and prepare this
meeting. Some others obviously will join in the preparations too, so that we
will end up with a proper European programme which will be well co-ordinated
on various different levels. On the political level, on the administrative level,
but also on the institutional level, and here I am specifically referring to
services such as our intelligence services. It will have to be a strong European
level programme which will be strongly co-ordinated with the United States of
America as regards all of these aspects.
So much on my view and on what I wanted to share with you tonight.
First of all, can I say that I agree with every word that Chancellor Schroeder
has just spoken and I would like to say how much I appreciate the very strong
stand that he has taken. The terrible terrorist atrocity last week in the United
States cost many thousands of American citizens their lives, but I know that
there were also German citizens, certainly many British citizens who lost their
lives too. We cannot yet be sure, but in all likelihood 200 or more, possibly
many more, British people were killed which makes it the worst terrorist incident
for us in Britain since the War. And so it is with a real sense of solidarity
that we stand here together tonight and say that we give our total support to
the people of the United States of America. And I know too from what I have
read and what I have seen that there has been an extraordinary outpouring of
sympathy and solidarity too amongst the German people as indeed there has been
What is remarkable too, I think, is that there is a growing and strengthening
coalition, not just of support for the United States and support for the measures
that we need to take, but also a recognition that the time has indeed come for
us to take the action necessary against this evil of mass terrorism, wherever
it exists. And again I agree entirely with what Chancellor Schroeder has just
said, that the measures that we take have to be of course measures to make sure
that those responsible for this atrocity are brought to account, but also measures
that we agree at the level of the international community to take action in
respect of every aspect of this phenomenon of mass terrorism: its financing,
the way its groups operate, how they move about, how they move across international
frontiers. So the meeting of the European Union on Friday, which I very much
welcome, will be important, and I am delighted to say again that I believe that
there will be a very strong demonstration, not just of solidarity, but also
of the action that we intend to take to translate that solidarity into firm
measures that help us deal with this threat of terrorism.
And we say also, very clearly, that we know that the vast majority of Moslems
throughout the world will have been shocked and horrified at what took place
and we believe too that in this coalition there will be many Arab and Islamic
countries who will be fully supportive of the need to deal with this mass terrorism.
And I think, one final reflection, is that in the days that have passed since
the terrible events of last week in America, people might have expected, indeed
I think some did expect, that the support and strength of the coalition to take
action, to bring to justice those people responsible, to make sure that we act
against mass terrorism in all its forms, people might have expected that coalition
to weaken with time. I think what is clear is that that coalition is strengthening.
That there is a gathering understanding right round the world. States from all
continents, people of all faiths, parties of all democratic political persuasions,
that this is a fight that it is important that we undertake and that we win.
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