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Cities throughout Europe commemorated the anniversary, including this one in BerlinImage: AP

Europe Stands United Against Terrorism, But Stresses Fairness

DW staff (eu)
September 11, 2006

European leaders on Monday marked the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11 by reaffirming their commitment to defeat terrorism. But some expressed reservations about how the United States has battled the threats.


In a veiled criticism of US policies, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Monday that human rights must be respected and that "even in the fight against terrorism, the end does not justify the means."

"Our battle against Islamic terrorism will only succeed if we strengthen democratic and economic development in crisis regions and cultivate respect for human rights," Merkel said in a statement. "Besides firmness and international unity, our motto in this fight should be respect for international law and respect and tolerance for other cultures."

One of US President George W. Bush's closest European allies, Merkel nonetheless has criticized American human-rights policies. On Saturday, she took aim at Bush's acknowledgement that the CIA operated secret prisons to detain terrorism suspects.

Angela Merkel Pressekonferenz in Berlin
German chancellor Angela Merkel stressed international unityImage: AP

"We must be fair as well as tough"

Government and rights groups have criticized US policy since Sept. 11 for trampling international law and formenting further attacks.

Terry Davis, head of the Council of Europe, said in an earlier statement, "To be effective we must be fair as well as tough…When they kill, they hope to provoke a disproportionate, indiscriminate and unfair reaction…but they are afraid of justice."

A statement from the 25-member European Union bloc also stressed the importance of legal rights. It said any anti-terrorism measures "must comply with obligations under international law, in particular international humanitarian law."

The EU also commemorated the Sept. 11 attacks as a reminder that "terrorism is a threat to all states and to all peoples…No cause, no grievance, can justify acts of terrorism."

Frankreich Präsident Jacques Chirac
French President Chirac says France stands together with the USImage: AP

On Sunday, French President Jacques Chirac sent a handwritten letter to Bush pledging France's solidarity. US-French relations soured after the US invaded Iraq, but Chirac said France is committed to fighting terrorism.

"During these days of sad commemoration, I want to express the friendship and solidarity of the French people with the American people," Chirac wrote. "Together, we pursue our determined struggle against this blight that nothing can ever justify."

Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and Britain's Prince Andrew, attending separate commemoration ceremonies in the United States, offered words of unity and sympathy.

"The heinous attack upon America was an attack upon us all. With America, Britain stands in the front line against Islamic fanatics who hate our beliefs, our liberties and our citizens," Thatcher was slated to tell a ceremony in Washington DC.

Remembering those who died

In New York, Prince Andrew praised the bravery of the families of the victims. "It is incredible to see the strength of character these families have shown in the face of such adversity," he told Britain's domestic news agency, the Press Association.

Memorial services were planned in several European cities, including Berlin and London.

In Rome, the city's mayor said several sites in Italy's capital would be dedicated to the Sept. 11 victims.

Papst Benedikt XVI. in Bayern - Messe in Altötting
Pope Benedict XVI prayed for peace in his native BavariaImage: AP

And in the tiny southern German town of Altötting, Pope Benedict prayed for the victims of the attacks. The pope was on the third day of a six-day trip to his Bavarian homeland.

The Pope listened as a ceremony participant read a special prayer. "Five years after the terror attack on the World Trade Center in New York, we ask for peace in the whole world."

"Christ hear us," the Pope responded with the congregation.

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