Brussels, March 23 (IANS) Leaders from the institutions of the European Union (EU) and its 28-member states strongly condemned the deadly attacks in Brussels on Tuesday and expressed their solidarity with the Belgian authorities.
The EU heads of state or government and the leaders of the EU institutions published a joint statement hours after explosions killed at least 34 people in Brussels, Xinhua reported.
Explosions at Brussels International Airport and a metro station shook the Belgian capital city of Brussels, which hosts most EU institutions and meetings.
“The European Union mourns the victims of today’s terrorist attacks in Brussels. It was an attack on our open democratic society,” the leaders said in their joint statement.
“Our common European institutions are hosted in Brussels, thanks to the generosity of the government of Belgium and the Belgian people. The European Union and its Member States stand firm with Belgium in solidarity and are determined to face this threat together with all necessary means,” they said.
Meanwhile, the EU leaders committed to fight against global terrorism.
“This latest attack only strengthens our resolve to defend the European values and tolerance from the attacks of the intolerant. We will be united and firm in the fight against hatred, violent extremism and terrorism,” the statement said.
European Council president Donald Tusk said the latest attacks at Brussels airport and a metro station mark “another low” by terrorists.
“These attacks mark another low by the terrorists in the service of hatred and violence,” he said, adding, “I extend my sincerest sympathies to the relatives and friends of the victims.”
“The European institutions are hosted in Brussels thanks to the generosity of Belgium’s government and its people. The European Union returns this solidarity now and will fulfill its role to help Brussels, Belgium and Europe as a whole counter the terror threat which we are all facing,” he added.
The president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU institutions will stand united “in the face of terrorism.”
“These attacks have hit Brussels today, Paris yesterday — but it is Europe as a whole that has been targeted. The European Union and its institutions stand united in the face of terrorism,” Juncker said in a statement.
As the head of the EU executive, Juncker commended the security forces, emergency services and all those who have helped victims in the deadly attacks and are still doing so now.
The metro station Maalbeek hit by a bomb this morning was only about 500 meters from the “Berlaymont Building,” the headquarter of the European Commission.
“I would like to reassure the employees of the Commission and the European Institutions that their security remains a priority for me and that all possible measures will be taken in full cooperation with the Belgian authorities,” Juncker said in a statement.
European Parliament president Martin Schulz issued a statement, condemning the attacks “barbarism and hatred” acts.
“I am horrified by the despicable and cowardly attacks which took place in Brussels today,” he said.
“These acts anger and sadden me at the same time. They are born from barbarism and hatred which do justice to nothing and no one,” he added.
In the name of the European Parliament, Schulz expressed his solidarity towards the Belgian people.
“Brussels, like other cities hit by such terrorist attacks, will stand strong, and the European institutions hosted so generously by the Brussels institutions and its inhabitants will do likewise,” he said.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the attacks are “horrific and cowardly,” calling them “premeditated murders.”
The Netherlands currently is holding the the rotating presidency of the EU.
“It has struck at the very heart of Brussels. The very heart of Belgium. The very heart of Europe,” he said in his statement.
“And let me make absolutely clear that the Netherlands stands resolute with our Belgian neighbours in mourning and sorrow,” Rutte said, adding that “bowing to this kind of violence can never be an option.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron slammed the attacks in Brussels as “appalling and savage,” warning that the European countries face “a very real terrorist threat.”
“These are difficult times, these are appalling terrorists, but we must stand together to do everything we can to stop them and to make sure that although they attack our way of life and attack us because of who we are, we will never let them win,” he said.
French President Francois Hollande called for “a global response” to combat terrorism which was targeting at Europe in a series of “cowardly and heinous attacks” in Brussels.
“We are facing a global threat, so we need a global response. The war against terrorism must be conducted in all Europe and with the necessary means,” Hollande said.
“We have to ensure that decisions are effectively implemented.”
The French president warned that the battle to eradicate terrorist cells “will be long”.
“The war against terrorism must be conducted calmly, with clarity and determination. We have to deploy the necessary means,” he said.