Photo: Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images
“Today we feel extremely close to our friends in Belgium,” said German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel. “The outrage is just as limitless as the determination to beat terrorism.” In a press statement, she commemorated those killed, and expressed her heartfelt condolences to their loved ones. “I am also thinking of those in the hospitals, who are battling the consequences of the bomb explosions right now.”
Numerous people were killed and many more injured in two explosions at the Zaventem airport in Brussels and a detonation in the Brussels metro at Maelbeek on Tuesday morning (22 March).
Statement by Chancellor Merkel on the attacks:
Attack on freedom and democracy
“All levels of government in Germany are working tirelessly to ensure that everything humanly possible is done for the safety of our country, despite the undeniable threats,” said the Chancellor. “The Federal Minister of the Interior and the Federal Minister of Transport have informed me of the increased security precautions and the state of alert at the borders, as well as at the airports and train stations.”
The attackers are enemies of all the values we stand for today in Europe, and which all members of the European Union jointly profess, especially on this day, and with great pride: “the values of freedom, democracy, and peaceful coexistence as self-assured citizens.”
“The Brussels murderers are terrorists, with no consideration for the laws of humanity,” said the Federal Chancellor. “The crime scene in Brussels reminds us in particular of the fact that the attackers are enemies of all the values that Europe stands for today.”
Increased security measures in Germany
“The situation for our country remains serious,” said Federal Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière on 23 March in an interview with the BILD newspaper. For a long time, just like France or Belgium, Germany has been a target for Islamic terrorism. “Together with our European partners, we will undauntedly fight against terror. Otherwise the terrorists will have achieved their goals,” said de Maizière. The minister had already emphasised the day before at a press conference that the German government is in extremely close contact with the Belgian authorities and the relevant EU institutions.
The minister informed the press on Tuesday that the security forces in Germany have been appropriately sensitised to the situation. “In such cases, protective measures are taken in the areas of critical infrastructure.” This also includes, depending on the situation, a “visible and robust presence and equipment at the relevant locations.” In addition, appropriate measures have been taken in the border regions with Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and France.
Attack on freedom and the EU
De Maizière condemned the terror attacks as attacks on freedom and the European Union. “The targets of the attacks, an international airport and a metro station close to EU institutions, indicates that this terrorist plot is not only against Belgium, but against our freedom, our freedom of movement, mobility, and all those who are part of the EU.”
The Federal Minister of the Interior pointed out that successful countermeasures, such as arrests, could possibly lead to a terrorist backlash, with even more extreme violence and attacks. “This must not prevent anyone from fighting terrorism in a legal, but determined and tough manner,” he said. “We must not back away.”
On Tuesday evening, de Maizière gave the following statement to ZDF: “Those that pose a danger to us, who we know of in Germany, are under close observation. Their whereabouts are monitored.
We are attempting to put together all related information.” This includes links to Germany that were previously unknown. “In this way, we are being proactive to try and prevent similar events
Regarding international cooperation between security forces, he told the broadcaster: “We have improved the Schengen information system.” Europol has a corresponding centre. Terrorists can now be more clearly identified. The most important intelligence agencies in Europe have also improved their exchange of information. A vast amount of data is compared. This must be shared in more detail and faster by the authorities responsible, “so that the sooner we know, the better. However, even then, there can be no absolute security.”
Solidarity with Brussels
The murderous attacks targeted the heart of Europe, and were dastardly, criminal acts against defenceless people, said Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. “In these difficult hours Europe stands together in solidarity.” Belgium can count on the unwavering support of Germany and Europe. “Together, united and determined, we oppose terrorism.”
Peter Altmaier, Head of the Federal Chancellery, also assured Brussels and the European Union of Germany's support. “Unbelievable. The terrorists cannot be allowed to win! The values of Europe are stronger than hate or violence! Total solidarity with Brussels and the EU,” he wrote on Twitter.
Federal Minister of Justice Heiko Maas spoke of “barbaric deeds”. “This is a black day for Europe. These despicable acts affect us all. We stand in solidarity with Brussels and the Belgians,” tweeted the minister.
Federal Minister of the Interior de Maizière ordered flags to be flown at half-mast nationwide on Wednesday (23 March).
Ministry of Foreign Affairs crisis team
The Federal Foreign Office has assembled a crisis management team. The German embassy in Brussels is establishing whether any Germans were killed or injured in the blasts.
The Federal Foreign Office has advised extreme caution. It issued a travel and security warning stating: "Travellers in Brussels are urgently requested to be very alert and attentive in their movements in the city.” Large gatherings of people should be avoided. The Ministry has also established an emergency hotline for questions: 030/5000-3000.
Wednesday, 23 March 2016