Zapatero urges EU response to Norway attacks
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on Monday called for a common European response against xenophobia and intolerance as he expressed his horror at the attacks in Norway.
"This isn't just another event," he told reporters in London after talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron, in which the two leaders discussed the twin bomb and shooting attacks on Friday that killed around 90 people.
"This is something extremely serious that requires a response, a European response, a shared response to defend freedom, to defend democracy, calling on people to rise up and fight radicalism, to respond against xenophobia."
Anders Behring Breivik, the man blamed for the attacks, wrote a 1,500-page manifesto where he boasted he was one of up to 80 "solo martyr cells" recruited across western Europe to topple governments tolerant of Islam.
Zapatero said: "One single person killed so many innocent people. I think it's one of the biggest tragedies we have witnessed in decades.
"It is one of the most worrying and serious events that we have ever seen take place on European soil."
He added: "Where we have seen this upsurge or rebirth of xenophobic ideas, when we have seen that happening in our old democratic Europe, then we have to react quickly. We can't let time go by and let that carry on."
Zapatero said that Europe's leaders must make a "common statement", adding that he had raised this with his EU partners and hoped they would follow it up.
"We cannot carry on with our day-to-day agenda as if this has just been one more event taking place in Europe," he said, speaking through a translator.
"It's not just one more event in Europe, just as it wasn't in the case of those Islamic terrorist attacks that hit London, that hit Madrid.
"We need to have a solidarity-minded political response, and also a security and prevention response. But a political response, is what I would hope would come out of the European Union."
Zapatero also said he had offered his condolences to his Norwegian counterpart Jens Stoltenberg for the "appalling event".
Cameron also offered his condolences for those affected by the "despicable killing", adding: "Britain and Spain have both been victims of horrific acts of terrorism in the past and I know that both of us will be offering every support that we can to Norway in the days ahead."
© 2011 AFP