Prime Minister Lionel Jospin
Speech to National Assembly (Excerpts)
Paris, France
October 3, 2001

Your session could not open without a debate on the situation created by the terrorist attacks of 11 September. So I proposed that this be held and want to present to you the appraisal which prompted the Government's response and the plan of action it implemented in the wake of the horrifying attacks which, three weeks ago, hit the United States and stunned the world. To the American people, mourning their victims by the thousand, France immediately expressed her total solidarity. Several dozen nations the world over, including our own, also have people missing. My thoughts, our thoughts, go to all these victims, to their families and loved-ones.

Today the sense of shock remains immense. This shock, shared by all our fellow-citizens, is coupled with acute concern since these terrorist acts directly challenge our most deeply-rooted values: respect for life, democracy and freedom. Every nation and the whole international community are facing this challenge. It calls for clear and determined responses. I would like to talk to you about them today.

Indeed, the Government is anxious to involve the nation's elected representatives in the task of determining our country's contribution to the fight against international terrorism. (...) Here, today, we are having a debate. As soon as Parliament has been reconvened, I can assure you that contact between the Government and the country's representatives will be permanent.

Did 11 September 2001 change the course of the world's history? How can we describe this new situation, what words do we use to portray its gravity, without conceding to the terrorists the advantage of dragging us onto their home ground?

People have talked about war, because the attacks were carried out like acts of war, because the response may involve the use of military capabilities. Yet here we aren't facing any nations, there's no regular army in sight, no conceivable peace treaty. Some people have talked about conflict between "civilizations" because the terrorists believe they can invoke Islam, or rather their warped vision of Islam, to justify the unjustifiable and secure either complicity or tacit acquiescence.

We shall not fall into their trap by allowing credence to be given to amalgams which are as dangerous as they are unfounded. Except for those who took part or assisted in the terrorism and those who are developing the dangerous ideologies of fanaticism, no one must be stigmatized. The battle against terrorism must not divide, but unite nations, peoples and religions: on this depends its success.

It must be our ambition to give the union against terrorism a universal character. This union won't make the world's tensions disappear. Its aim isn't to make the suffering peoples forget their sufferings or frustrations or lose their identity in a monolithic struggle. But nor must we accept a critical vision of the United States' responsibilities in recent history being invoked as a pretext for saying: "this isn't our battle". The fight against terrorism is a shared imperative for the democracies and must become one for all nations. It isn't someone else's war into which we're supposedly being dragged, it's a necessary and methodical offensive to which we shall freely devote all our efforts.

Terrorism can't be explained and even less justified by the inequalities which divide the world and the conflicts which wreak havoc in it. But we have to realize that hatred feeds on poverty, frustration and injustice. This is why this crisis makes us look again at the essential questions on the state of today's world. How do we respond to the extremism that we get the impression is spreading, even within our developed world? How do we prevent the world's economic globalization allowing the creation, in the political sphere, of vacuums which violence alone seems capable of filling? Today I am only opening this complex debate. But I am convinced that the terrorist threat mustn't in any event reduce the priority, in the minds of States or on their agendas, of the world's problems: the resolution of the conflicts, particularly that of the Middle East, respect for human rights, the progress of democracy, development and the environment.

(...) Terrorism has been almost universally repudiated and we have begun to detect signs of unexpected cooperation. Adopting her own approach, with her network of international relations, France must join the battle to help ensure that a more clear-sighted world emerges from this crisis, one which is more strongly equipped to combat a clearly-rejected terrorism and more determined to join forces in order to close the gap between the haves and the havenots, and end the injustices which play into the hands of the men of violence and weaken the cause of the democracies.

We immediately made international solidarity the keynote of our action in the battle against terrorism. A scourge which knows no borders calls for an international response. (...) The fight against terrorism calls for solidarity and cooperation.

Solidarity, first of all, with the United States, the allied nation to whom we owe the victory over nazism, the friendly people with whom we share the democratic ideal. In agreement with President Chirac, the Government endorsed the commitment, made in the framework of article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, to support in the way we deem appropriate the response of our ally who has suffered this attack. France will shoulder her full responsibility, at the United States' side, in the long-term battle to eradicate terrorism.

As the objective of his country's response to the attack, the United States President has set the identification and punishment of the perpetrators and, going beyond this, the dismantling of the terrorist networks, thanks to the cooperation of the countries in which they are established. These are specific objectives which we can fully share. Keen to build an international coalition without excluding any one, aware of the risks involved if they were to take reprisals which were not understood or provoked outrage, the Americans have adopted a long-term, many-sided strategy, of which the use of arms will be only one aspect.

The principle of universal solidarity had to be expressed in the United Nations framework. Since 11 September, two United Nations Security Council Resolutions have specified the international legal framework within which nations' responses to terrorist acts must be carried out. UNSCR 1368, describing the attacks of 11 September - and any act of international terrorism - as a threat to peace and international security, has recognized the applicability to such acts of the right of individual or collective legitimate self-defence, thus providing a legal basis for resorting to force.

UNSCR 1373, adopted on 28 September pursuant to chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, which reiterates the Security Council's call for all States to work together to combat terrorism and implement in full the relevant international conventions, forms a genuine international instrument, whose use is incumbent on States, for fighting terrorism. It demands from them full cooperation and their immediate implementation of an exhaustive set of drastic measures, designed in particular to end all transfers of funds to people or organizations involved in terrorist acts. It thus broadly, and proactively, anticipates the entry into force of the Convention on the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, proposed by France which the United Nations General Assembly adopted on 9 December 1999, and whose ratification by our country is imminent. The relevant Bill is on the Senate's agenda for 11 October.

France will also be pursuing, with her partners, in the relevant international fora - the European Union, G7/G8 and FATF - joint efforts to identify and coordinate as effectively as possible the machinery for cooperating in the fight against the bankrolling of terrorism. We must resolutely combat the "black holes" in the international financial system, those territories which do not adhere to the common discipline required to stop money laundering, those finance centres where the cult of anonymity and bank secrecy facilitate the organization of all forms of trafficking.

Finally, the current examination at the UN of a draft global convention on terrorism, tackling every aspect of it, will lead, I hope - our diplomatic efforts are geared to this - to a universal frame of reference for the many international legal instruments dealing with the problem.

Solidarity with the United States, implacable determination in the fight against terrorism, an appeal to the whole international community to combine its efforts, these are the principles guiding us and which, at European level, have been forcefully affirmed and fully translated into consequent action by the Conclusions and Plan of Action of the Extraordinary European Council Meeting held in Brussels on 21 September.

Europe must indeed play a leading role in this effort. First of all, for reasons of efficacy. It isn't tolerable for our countries that a network, with a headquarters in one EU country, a war chest in another, can plan attacks in a third, banking on disparities in our legal systems, the limits or slowness of police and judicial cooperation between the States to safeguard the secrecy of its projects. And, secondly, in order to address the concerns of the EU citizens. Amongst the most important of these are, of course, security and the defence of the values underpinning the European identity. So to a greater extent than ever before, Europe must, for its constituent nations, be a guarantee of security.

Right from the first few days of the crisis, Europe's response was a united one, based on a common political vision perfectly reflecting France's concerns. I was very pleased that the Fifteen were thus able to assert their identity on the international stage. This has made an important contribution to confidence and stability in the period we are living through.

I welcome the concrete measures adopted by the European Council designed to allow the establishment within the EU of a coherent system for preventing and suppressing terrorism, thanks, in particular, to greater cooperation at the level of the police and the judicial authorities, aided by a common definition of terrorism and a harmonization of penalties, new instruments such as the European arrest warrant, heightened cooperation between the relevant agencies and the mobilization of anti-terrorist specialists in the fight against terrorism in the European fora. These decisions also include action to step up the fight against the financing of terrorism, particularly through the extension of the Directive on money laundering and the framework Decision on freezing assets, which France has in fact anticipated by deciding to freeze the assets of persons and entities identified by the United States. To this end, an order was published in the Journal officiel on 26 September.

However essential these decisions may be, there will be a need for further ones and for special monitoring of the situation. This is why I think it timely to create an ad hoc permanent structure - perhaps using our permanent representatives to the European Union - responsible, in Brussels and under the General Affairs Council's authority, for coordinating the measures to be implemented to fight terrorism in the various spheres, in order to ensure their application and identify new areas requiring harmonization.

Now that Europe is finalizing the establishment of the institutions and capabilities which will provide it with a defence dimension, we must very probably - as well as pursuing the progress observed in the JHA pillar - also think about the contribution Defence Europe can make to the security of the European Union's territory, maritime approaches and airspace.

Three weeks after the attacks, the United States is progressively pursuing its forces' deployment, particularly that of its air and naval aviation forces, in the Middle East and the Arabian Sea. In this respect, the American administration seems to be opting for a methodical operation, conducted alone or in a coalition. The stated goal is the long-term one of effectively dismantling bin Laden's organization and the networks identified as having affiliations with Islamist terrorist groups.

The military options in the battle which is commencing may lead, going beyond one-off strikes, to larger-scale operations. In both cases, success demands high-quality intelligence in order to plan very complex operations and define specific and pertinent targets. The United States is appealing for international cooperation in this sphere. Our agencies, which have already played a very active part in identifying and dismantling terrorist networks linked to the attacks of 11 September, are providing their skills.

To prepare for these strikes or operations, the complementary deployments of forces set in train by the United States are expected to continue. On this point, France, like other allies, has been asked to open her airspace to American military planes. In agreement with President Chirac, a favourable answer has been given to that request. Naturally, in this respect, close cooperation is being maintained between our two countries' leaders; it includes, inter alia, a notice-to-move procedure. We have also received a request for naval cooperation. French Navy vessels deployed in the Indian Ocean are cooperating with the US Navy, contributing inter alia to the logistical support of the naval aviation force deployed in the Arabian Sea.

More broadly, going beyond that cooperation, the French forces prepositioned outside metropolitan France have adapted their posture by stepping up their state of alertness. They can at any moment be reinforced by new military capabilities and particularly by special forces at a high level of operational readiness.

Any future decisions will be taken by President Chirac and the Government, in line with their specific responsibilities under the Constitution. If, going beyond the present cooperation in the spheres of intelligence, logistical facilities and support, a request were made for France's military participation in operations, our country would be fully involved in the definition of the political objectives and planning of the operations.

If French military capabilities were to contribute to an operation, Parliament would be consulted and the national representatives would be regularly informed of the conduct of the operations, as was the case throughout the Kosovo conflict.

Today all eyes are turned towards Afghanistan. Over and above any action which might be necessitated by the presence of the terrorists there, we have to think about that country's men and women, victims of an oppressive regime, and try to enable them at last to take back control of their destiny. On top of the sufferings they have so long endured as a result of armed conflicts, the Afghans are today once again encountering humanitarian problems. The European Union has already released EUR 27 million of aid. France - who through her non-governmental organizations has been very active in Afghanistan - has just presented to her partners an action plan for that country. She will play her full part in the necessary international action to encourage dialogue between all the elements in that country with a view to promoting moves towards reconciliation and civil order. Our country will participate in the international effort to help the Afghan civilian population.

France didn't discover the barbarity of terrorism on 11 September. She had already, alas, already suffered from it in the flesh. So the Government is steadfastly and vigilantly applying itself to ensuring the safety of our fellow citizens.

The very day the attacks were perpetrated against New York and Washington, the Government implemented Phase 2 of the Vigipirate plan.

This provides for the presence of the police, gendarmerie and army in public places at risk, such as air terminals, stations and major shopping centres. All in all, nearly 4,500 men and women are visibly carrying out this task of preventing attacks and public disorder, complementing the efforts of the police and gendarmerie officers normally assigned to ensuring law and order. But the Vigipirate plan also includes measures, implemented in every department by the préfets [high-ranking civil servants who represent the State at the level of the department or region] on the basis of a plan which they draw up, to protect places and buildings at risk. Its activation mobilizes far more public- and private-sector personnel than members of the security forces brought in to reinforce the forces of law and order.


Those first precautionary measures were necessary. The Vigipirate plan is essential to protect our country in the event of a terrorist threat, since it activates general surveillance measures and alerts both the authorities and the population to the need for vigilance.

But the Vigipirate plan must be completed by specific measures tailored to the actual nature of the terrorist threat.

In order to decide what measures are necessary, we need to assess as accurately as possible the nature of the threat against our country, today. For this, the work of the intelligence services is crucial. It is a subject rarely mentioned by those addressing the National Assembly, for obvious reasons. I should today like to draw attention to the considerable work being carried out by these services, those answerable to the Interior Ministry and to the Defence Ministry alike. Through their own efforts and also through their contacts with their counterparts in our allies' countries, they are supplying valuable intelligence in the fight against terrorism. This intelligence, as you know, has already enabled the arrest, in France and abroad, of people strongly suspected of being linked to terrorist networks and of preparing attacks in Europe.


We must start by increasing the safety of air transport. This necessitates measures at international level, since we can be at risk from planes belonging to foreign companies as well as national ones, in transit, arriving in or leaving our country. So we attach special importance to the consultations under way in the framework of the International Civil Aviation Organization with a view to tightening the security measures incumbent on States and adapting norms to the new threats. In the fight against terrorism, as in other spheres, European harmonization is an essential objective. The EU Transport Council, which met on 14 September in Brussels has, inter alia, decided to step up the level of expertise and coordination within the European Civil Aviation Conference, which brings together 38 States.

For its part, to complement Vigipirate, the Government is determined to put in place as swiftly as possibly a first set of national measures very significantly increasing security for planes flying over France. There are already more stringent controls on access to airports, and these are to be stepped up still further for those working there, passengers, luggage and freight, for both business planes and the airlines. In order to ensure security on board the aircraft, pre-flight security controls are going to be systematized, the presence of air marshals will be encouraged and the study of ways of controlling access to the cockpit speeded up.

Air defence has been strengthened and adapted to the new situation. We have increased cooperation with our closest allies as regards surveillance of our airspace. Permanent liaison detachments have been sent to our allies' military headquarters and to French civilian air traffic control centres. The number of fighter aircraft able to scramble has risen from four to ten in five air bases. The airforce is capable of swiftly intercepting any plane flying abnormally, in order to make checks and, if necessary, use force. Moreover, air defence systems may be deployed around certain sites appearing to constitute targets presenting particular risk.

Some of the measures taken for air transport could be extended to very sensitive rail or sea transport links. The préfets of maritime departments have already taken measures to step up surveillance of merchant ships, particularly those carrying dangerous products.

There has been much talk of the risks of terrorist action of a bacteriological or chemical nature. Confronted with this type of threat, the Government has drawn up an emergency plan which it wishes to coordinate with our European partners. Even though the number of chemical substances or bacterial or viral agents which can theoretically be used complicates the establishment of specific preventative and protective measures, the Government has accelerated the upgrading of our detection capabilities and methods of dealing with any contamination.

For the moment, the Government has just approved the Biotox plan which sets out the principles of the fight against biological hazards. Assets for analysing and detecting contamination of air and water will be reinforced. Decontamination capabilities will be increased. Laboratories will be mobilized to produce antidotes, when these are known.

Confronted with the risk of attacks by infectious agents against which there are no vaccines - or no longer any vaccines - we must both encourage French researchers to find new methods of preventing them and to develop treatments. We would like this research to be conducted in a European and international framework. Indeed in this sphere where the risk to public health cannot be confined by a border, it is essential for measures to be harmonized at European level, and internationally in the framework of the World Health Organization.

We must also ensure, at this time of increased risk, that we strengthen the legal instruments for preventing terrorist activities and combating them more effectively. To this end, statutory provisions should be brought before Parliament under emergency procedures. These will be designed, inter alia, to allow vehicle checks, at the authorization of the public prosecutor's office, when these are needed in order to investigate and pursue legal proceedings in the case of terrorist offences; to carry out searches in the course of preliminary enquiries for terrorist-related offences, on the authorization of the judge to whom the case has been referred by the public prosecutor's office; to conduct security checks by authorized security officials on persons at entrances to airports and ports and in all places accessible to the public, in the event of a serious threat to public safety; and to give judges the means to counter more effectively the use for criminal purposes of the new communication technologies.

Parliament will be asked to approve these provisions, justified by the fight against terrorism, for a specified period linked to current circumstances.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Everything is being done to ensure the security of our fellow-citizens and prepare France's contribution to the fight against international terrorism. The corollary of this mobilization has to be that our nation remains calm and united.

This unity requires mutual respect. In this regard, remarks and behaviour hostile to Islam are dangerous and utterly unacceptable. In fact I note that all the religious authorities, particularly in our country, have vehemently condemned not just the terrorist attacks, but also the threatening attitudes towards Muslims, using the attacks as an excuse. I formally assure you of this: no act hostile to Muslims will be tolerated in our country. Anyone committing racially-motivated or anti-Semitic acts, or behaving in a discriminatory manner will be prosecuted.

Adopting the same active approach, we must refuse to accept the inevitability of an economic slowdown. We still have everything going for us: inflation is falling, our companies are in a good financial position, consumption is buoyant, our Government deficits have been cut. We have the resilience to get through the present hard times. Everyone - company directors, investors, consumers - must feel a personal involvement in our response to terrorism. Let us, collectively, show our sense of responsibility, our solidarity as active participants in our country's economic life.

For its part, the Government is fully mobilized. It is showing its resourcefulness on the employment policy front by very quickly redeploying budgetary resources. It is equally determined to help sectors directly affected by the consequences of the attacks on 11 September. The 2002 budget bill we are proposing to the country's representatives is growth- orientated. It pursues the effort to reduce taxes for both households and companies, and so supports consumption and investment.

We shall be ready, if necessary, to go further in order to keep the French economy growing and reduce unemployment, mindful of the need for speed and efficiency. We shall also act in coordination with our European partners, to show that, without undermining our commitment to controlling budgetary expenditure, we are together taking every possible measure to prevent the slowdown.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In the present circumstances, we must ensure more than ever before that we maintain our national unity by upholding the values of the republican pact. It's precisely these values which terrorism wants to repudiate by causing chaos, doubt and division in our democratic societies.

In the battle against terrorism, our commitment to our founding principles - those of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen and of our republican motto - is our greatest strength.

Whatever our differences and whoever we are, I know we share this conviction.