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Europe must not be afraid


President Ilves’s answer to a request from Eesti Päevaleht and Postimees to comment on how the Paris terrorist attacks on 13 November 2015 will change Europe

President Toomas Hendrik Ilves:

In Paris on the evening of November 13th, terrorists attacked Europe. They wished to kill as many victims, people, as possible. All of us – atheists, Christians and Muslims, the people of Europe and refugees – are victims of this coordinated terrorist attack. It is because of this violence and these terrorists that hundreds of thousands of people have fled from their homes.

The goal of the ISIS terrorists is to intimidate. So we would not dare to stand up to the crimes against humanity that they commit elsewhere; so we would forsake compassion and solidarity when accepting refugees from war, so we would turn our back on those in trouble and those who suffer, so we would close our borders and would fear to extend a helping hand.

We cannot allow fear to take over. If we do, the terrorists have won, just like terror won one time in our own country. After the attacks in Paris, it is important to understand a familiar principle: an attack against one is an attack against all. Only together can each country defend itself. Or does someone think that we can stand up to an ISIS-style attack without the help of our allies?

Recalling the wording of semiotician Mihhail Lotman, we must react deliberately, advisedly and rapidly. This presumes very good international cooperation, and increased defense cooperation in Europe. The courage to make the correct and effective countermoves. The efficient control of the European Union’s external borders. Even greater attention to the each country’s internal security and that of the European Union in general. According to the information available today, one of the attackers in Paris was a French citizen.

We must know who is arriving in Europe, and why. An uncontrolled migration flow conceals a threat and Europe must find better methods for making sure who is who, but we must not close the door to those who truly need help. The current refugee crisis is not the reason or motive for the Paris terrorist attacks.

Europe must care about its security, but Europe must not be afraid.

Office of the President

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