'Most Belgians' fearnew wave of terror
15 March 2004, BRUSSELS - A major online survey on Monday showed most Belgians fear a new wave of terror attacks in Europe, despite assurances from the Prime Minister that Belgium faces no specific terror threat.
15 March 2004
BRUSSELS - A major online survey on Monday showed most Belgians fear a new wave of terror attacks in Europe, despite assurances from the Prime Minister that Belgium faces no specific terror threat.
The online survey in Le Soir newspaper was ongoing on Monday, but when Expatica was updated more than 3000 people had responded and over 70 percent of them said they believed that more terror attacks in Europe would follow last week's horrific bombings in Madrid.
Analysts point out that the Le Soir survey is essentially a straw poll and so does not have the scientific rigour of a properly organised opinion survey.
But they say the results nevertheless seem to show that most Belgians fear a new wave of terror attacks.
The survey is bad, although hardly unexpected, news for Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstatdt, who this weekend tried to reassure Belgians that their country is not in imminent danger of attack.
Speaking on Flemish television on Sunday, Verhofstadt said there was "no specific threat" of a terrorist attack in Belgium.
"That does not mean we should not remain vigilant," he continued, adding, "we are ready for any possibility and if a threat should become apparent we will take the necessary measures."
The survey in Le Soir came as cities across Europe respected three minutes of silence in memory of the victims of last Friday's bomb blasts in Madrid, which left 201 people dead and over 1,500 injured.
In Brussels Verhofstadt took part in the silent memorial alongside European Commission President Romano Prodi.
Both men believe the Madrid tragedy shows that European Union governments must work together even more closely to combat the threat of terrorism and have called for the question to be put at the top of the agenda of next week's EU summit meeting in Brussels.
On Monday Prodi said the EU needed a "more systematic plan of action" to deal with terror.
"It is important to have something really concrete and to able to act immediately," he insisted.
Last Friday Verhofstadt called for the creation of an EU Intelligence agency that could pool information on terror suspects gathered by the Union's different national security and intelligence services.
In the past many EU governments have opposed such plans, citing fears for their own national security if secret service information were handed to other European countries.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Belgian news