France is taking maximum precautions to ensure safety of Euro 2016
Fight against terrorism – Interview given by M. Bernard Cazeneuve, Minister of the Interior, to the daily newspaper Midi Libre
Paris, 17 March 2016
Q. – Today in Nîmes you’re taking part in a simulated attack on a Euro 2016 fan zone. How real is the threat in France today?
THE MINISTER – As the President, the Prime Minister and I said yesterday, the terrorist threat remains at a very high level. We must exercise the utmost vigilance to protect our fellow citizens. Throughout France, the security forces and emergency services are training in exercises such as the one in Nîmes. This year, 75 exercises aimed at managing a major crisis are planned in our country. They are taking on particular importance with Euro 2016, an international event, three months away. It is our responsibility to prepare ourselves to anticipate and prevent any kind of threat.
Q. – Is France particularly targeted by jihadist terrorists?
THE MINISTER – France is targeted, as we saw with the terrible attacks of January and November 2015, because the terrorists loathe our Republican values of freedom, tolerance and laïcité (1). French people are showing courage and exceptional resilience, which I want to pay tribute to. But the terrorist threat affects other countries too. On Tuesday I went to Côte d’Ivoire with Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to show the Ivorian government and people France’s solidarity in the wake of the Grand-Bassam attack on Sunday. I said there that anti-terrorist cooperation between our two countries would be stepped up. We are also carrying out resolute EU action, because to respond effectively to the terrorist threat we need to step up European Union external border controls.
Q. – Are jihadist networks more active in the Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi Pyrénées region?
THE MINISTER – Such networks have been dismantled in various parts of the country; no region is more or less affected than any other. We are taking action all over the country with the same vigilance and efficiency. I want to salute the job our police, gendarmerie and intelligence services do daily to combat terrorism. Since the beginning of 2016 we have arrested 74 individuals linked to terrorist activities, 37 of whom have already been charged and 28 imprisoned.
Q. – The state of emergency ends on 26 May, three weeks before Euro 2016. Will it be extended?
THE MINISTER – Whatever the prevailing situation during Euro 2016, we are taking the maximum precautions to ensure its optimum security. We have been doing this for months, liaising closely and constantly with the organizers and host cities. Today’s exercise in Nîmes is part of this. We are taking the necessary measures, regardless of whether there is a state of emergency. We have submitted a new bill to Parliament to increase police and justice system resources in the fight against organized crime and terrorism; we would like to see this come into force at the end of May. A large majority of the National Assembly has already voted it through and I hope the Senate will do the same. (…)./.
(1) laïcité goes beyond the concept of secularism, embracing the strict neutrality of the state.