Statement by Prime Minister Mark Rutte on the attacks in Brussels
Prime Minister Mark Rutte made the following statement after attending a meeting of the Ministerial Crisis Management Committee. The Committee convened following the attacks at Brussels Airport and on the Brussels metro.
Ladies and gentlemen, the horrific, cowardly attacks in Brussels this morning are terrible and shocking. This is premeditated murder. It is yet another direct attack on our freedom, our security, our way of life. It has struck at the very heart of Brussels. The very heart of Belgium. The very heart of Europe. This morning I conveyed our condolences to my Belgian counterpart, Charles Michel, and offered our full support, both moral and material. Much is still unclear. We don’t yet know, for instance, whether there are any Dutch casualties.
I have just attended a meeting of the Ministerial Crisis Management Committee. The threat level in our country remains substantial. There are no concrete indications that an attack is imminent in the Netherlands. Nevertheless in our country, too, we must be especially vigilant. Extra precautionary measures have been taken – some visible, others out of the public eye. With regard to our airports I can say that extra precautions have been taken in the form of enhanced and expanded patrols by the Royal Military and Border Police. As regards border control with Belgium, border checks have been stepped up considerably and we are in very close contact with Belgium’s other neighbouring countries to assess whether extra measures are needed and if so coordinate them. Extra measures have also been taken at the major railway stations, in the form of police patrols. Extra and stricter checks are being carried out at the border stations of Arnhem, Breda and Roosendaal, on account of the international trains which stop there. The Royal Military and Border Police are carrying out stricter checks on international trains, particularly those between the Netherlands and Belgium. And as you know all trains between the two countries have been cancelled for the time being. Of course we are advising people not to travel to Brussels today. As the Netherlands currently holds the EU Presidency, our permanent representative in Brussels is in close contact with the EU institutions and the Belgian government to ascertain what measures the Presidency needs to take. The Dutch ministers of Defence, Foreign Affairs and Security & Justice and I are also in close contact with our Belgian counterparts and, where appropriate, with the European institutions. We will remain alert and if necessary we will announce extra measures. We will ensure that the Netherlands is protected to the best possible degree.
I would like to say how extraordinarily sad I am that so many innocent people lost their lives this morning. That so many people were injured and that so many families are grieving or living in uncertainty. Our hearts go out to them all: the victims and their families. And let me make absolutely clear that the Netherlands stands resolute with our Belgian neighbours in mourning and sorrow. Bowing to this kind of violence can never be an option. This will not change who and what we are: an open, democratic society that will not be ruled by fear. I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it here today: we are in the majority.