Reactions from across the globe began pouring in late Thursday after a terror attack struck the southern French city of Nice, killing scores. At least 84 victims were killed and many injured when a truck ran over crowds during Bastille Day celebrations.
“I strongly condemn the inhumane terrorist attack that happened during France’s National Day celebrations,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement. “Being exposed to many terror attacks, we fully understand France.” Erdogan added that the “barbarous” Nice attack again demonstrated the need for a “decisive and consistent” anti-terror drive. Those with a “hesitant” attitude towards terrorism “should learn lessons” from the attack, he added.
“These barbarians do not, and should not, have any place in the world,” Erdogan said. “We are all seeing that for terrorists there is no difference between Turkey and France, Iraq and Belgium, or Saudi Arabia and America.” He also offered his condolences to the victims’ families and wished a speedy recovery to the injured.
Shortly after news of the tragedy broke, US President Barack Obama condemned the attack “in the strongest terms”, saying Washington stands in “solidarity and partnership” with its oldest ally. “On this Bastille Day, we are reminded of the extraordinary resilience and democratic values that have made France an inspiration to the entire world,” he said in a statement, “and we know that the character of the French Republic will endure long after this devastating and tragic loss of life.”
Turkey’s EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Omer Celik also said he “condemn[s] the horrible terrorist attack in Nice, France in the strongest possible terms. “My thoughts are with the victims and their families,” he said on Twitter. “Terror is always brutal wherever or in whatever form or with whatever motiv[at]es it.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel strongly condemned the attack and offered condolences to France. “Germany stands side by side with France in fight against terrorism, united with many, many others. I am very convinced that we would win this fight despite all the difficulties,” she said on Friday, at a press conference in Mongolia’s capital Ulan Bator.
Merkel emphasised that the European and Asian leaders gathered there for a two-day Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit stand united with France. “Today is a day of solidarity. All people in Germany are in solidarity with our friends in France. All the countries today here are in solidarity with France in fight against terrorism,” she said.
Also in Ulan Bator, Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, wrote on Twitter, “Tragic paradox that the subject of Nice attack was the people celebrating liberty, equality and fraternity.” He said European and Asian leaders also discussed terrorism and regional cooperation at the ASEM summit.
New British Prime Minister Theresa May said her country stood “shoulder to shoulder” with France. Speaking to Sky News on Friday morning, she said she was “shocked and saddened after the horrifying attack in Nice.” She continued: “I will speak to President [Francois] Hollande today and make clear that the United Kingdom stands shoulder to shoulder with France today as we have done so often in the past.
“If, as we fear, this was a terrorist attack then we must redouble our efforts to defeat these brutal murderers who want to destroy our way of life.” May said the UK’s own terror threat level was at severe, meaning an attack may be highly likely, and that officials would be meeting later on Friday to discuss the domestic implications.
Following the attack, Italy tightened security along its land border with France – which lies some 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Nice, on the Mediterranean – the country’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said in a statement. Alfano said he had called the counter-terrorism committee for an emergency meeting.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen denounced the attack that “targeted innocent people and the core values for which NATO stands.” “But terrorism will never defeat democracy, freedom and our open societies,” Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement.