Following the devastating terrorist attacks in Paris, Germany is grieving with the people in France. The Federal Foreign Office has set up a crisis unit which is in close contact with the French authorities.
When terror struck the French capital, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was at the Stade de France in Paris with France’s President François Hollande watching a friendly match between Germany and France. The scale of the tragedy became evident even before the match had ended. More than 100 had died and a large number of people had been injured. Foreign Minister Steinmeier was shocked and outraged by the brutal terrorist attack and stated in Paris before heading off that night to Vienna for the international conference on Syria: “We stand firmly by France’s side.”
Foreign Minister Steinmeier ordered on Friday night that a crisis unit on the terrorist attacks in Paris be set up at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin. Since then, the members of this unit have been in constant close contact with the German Embassy in France and with the French authorities. The travel and security advice for France has also been updated and modified in line with the situation. The Federal Government crisis unit also met today, chaired by Federal Foreign Office State Secretary Stefan Steinlein.
State of emergency declared and border checks introduced
The crisis unit stated that anyone travelling to France in the coming days could expect tougher security measures. The French Government declared a state of emergency last night and checks at the border with Germany are being introduced as a result. This could affect travel temporarily.
As public life and the atmosphere in France will remain subdued in the coming days as a result of these terrible events, all travellers are advised to respect this, to conduct themselves circumspectly and to follow the instructions of the French security authorities. It is important, stated the representatives of the crisis unit to follow developments via the media and the Federal Foreign Office’s travel and security advice.
Steinmeier expresses his condolences to Fabius
Foreign Minister Steinmeier met the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, in Vienna this morning (14 November) before the start of the meeting on Syria and expressed his deep sympathy with the victims of the attack. Steinmeier said: “The scale of the horror (...) defies the comprehension of us all (...). What began as a celebration of football (...), ended in an inferno of terror.” He went on to say that Germany stood firmly by the side of its French friends at this time of suffering and despair in France.
Germany mourns with its French friends
In Germany, too, people were saddened and shocked today. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel assured France this morning of Germany’s solidarity and support. Together with other members of the Federal Cabinet, she later signed the book of condolences at the French Embassy in Berlin. Federal President Joachim Gauck had previously paid a visit to the Embassy to express his sympathy. He, too, signed the book of condolences, writing: “In deep sorrow and profound shock we in Germany stand by the side of our French friends. And we will stand by their side when we defend what they once proclaimed in Europe: Liberté Egalité Fraternité.”
However, it is not only the Federal President and the Federal Government who are mourning with France. Since yesterday evening, many people have laid flowers in front of the French Embassy in Berlin and left messages of solidarity and sympathy. One of these messages said: “Lovers travel to Paris. It is the city of life and freedom. Let us defend it. But not in hate. Hate is the language of death, not of life.”
In the evening, hundreds of Berliners gathered in front of the Brandenburg Gate, which was illuminated in the French tricolour, to express their sympathy for the victims of the terrorist attack and their solidarity with France.