School tragedy triggers callsfor Euro anti-terror effort
3 September 2004 , VALKENBURG - Governments across the world must step up counter-terror cooperation to prevent a repetition of the Russian school hostage crisis, Dutch Foreign Minister and current European Union spokesman Bernard Bot said Friday.
3 September 2004
VALKENBURG - Governments across the world must step up counter-terror cooperation to prevent a repetition of the Russian school hostage crisis, Dutch Foreign Minister and current European Union spokesman Bernard Bot said Friday.
At the same time, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said the conflict in Chechnya could only be solved through political means, warning Western governments against being drawn into a clash of civilisations with Muslims, but added: "We have to defend our values, even under difficult circumstances."
"This is a terrible crime which we have to condemn very strongly," Fischer said.
"I cannot imagine any reason which would justify taking little children and mothers and babies as hostages," the German Foreign Minister said.
"I hope all hostages can go home without being hurt," he added.
Speaking at a meeting of E.U. foreign ministers in the Netherlands, Dutch Foreign Minister and current European Union spokesman Bernard Bot told reporters: "We must work closely together to avoid similar tragedies,"
Bot expressed his "great sorrow" at the bloody end to the Russian crisis and said the 25 nation bloc was monitoring the situation in southern Russia very closely.
Asked to comment on the storming of the school in Beslan by the Russian authorities, Bot said it was "difficult to judge" whether the right decision had been taken.
He said he regretted that the crisis could not be solved peacefully but said he understood "the difficult dilemma the Russian government was confronted with."
Having failed to negotiate a deal with the hostage-takers, the Russians had seen "no other way out," he speculated.
"The European Union fully and unconditionally condemns all forms of terrorism," Bot said.
Bot made his comments as the three-day hostage crisis in the Russian town of Beslan came to a bloody end as blasts inside the besieged school in Beslan prompted a daytime storming and rescue operation by security forces.
"Dozens" of dead were discovered at the school, according to Interfax news agency.
Earlier reports had spoken of as few as 12 hostages killed. However, many more bodies had now been found, Interfax said.
Between 15 and 25 gunmen reportedly demanding the withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya had been holding between 350 and 1,000 hostages in the school since Wednesday.
Subject: German news