Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja on the terror attacks in the Finnish Parliament

The General Affairs Council of the European Union met yesterday in special session. The European Union expressed its full solidarity with the United States. The European Union also offered its help in managing the consequences of these catastrophic terrorist strikes.

The terrorist strikes that took place in the United States are a crime against humanity. The international community will not remain inactive after these atrocities.

International cooperation to prevent terrorism and to implement international law has to be strengthened, especially through the UN. The fight against terrorism is an endeavour common to all states. We need stronger international order and cooperation.

Those guilty of these attacks have to be found and brought to justice. The rule of law on the international scale has to be strengthened. The perpetrators have to be tried in a court of law, along with those who shelter them. They have to be punished - all of them - but only they.

Who committed this crime and what their motives were, we do not yet know for certain. The victim of the strikes was not only the United States, but democracy and humanity as well. We have to act according to our values. They do not include warlike talk and fomenting thoughts of vengeance, nor assigning collective guilt based on religion, culture or nationality. Such confrontational responses have to be avoided.

The entire world has been shocked by these strikes. But we have to turn the aversion and shock caused by them into an opportunity, and on this global consensus we have to build a new quest for peace. None of the parties to the conflicts in the world today has expressed support for these acts. The international community must now pressure them to denounce violence and commit themselves to the pursuit of peace.

In the United Nations, there has been a consensus since 1994 that terrorist acts are always crimes, irrespective of who commits them, or what their targets, political motives or goals are. Terrorist acts cannot be justified on any religious, political or ideological grounds.

On the basis of this world-wide understanding, international cooperation against terrorism has been developed, and it must be further strengthened. We should build on this ground and we should refrain from measures that might cause the basis of the cooperation to crumble.

In the opinion of Finland, in defending ourselves against terrorism, we have to stress international cooperation, collective action and respect for human rights.

The European Union asks its member countries to take, without delay, all measures necessary to maintain an enhanced level of security especially as far as air traffic is concerned. The councils of ministers of the interior, justice and transport at their forthcoming meetings will be assessing how these measures are being implemented and whether there is a need to add to them. The General Affairs Council has asked the Presidency and the High Representative to report, as soon as possible, on concrete measures to enhance such aspects of the joint foreign and security policy, and judicial and home affairs policies, as would be helpful in the fight against terrorism, in cooperation with the United States and other countries.

As a result of the terrorist strikes, the North Atlantic Council, on the initiative of the United States, yesterday approved a statement declaring that the strikes have caused a situation where Article 5 of the Washington treaty is applicable, with its obligations for consultations and collective defence.

This is the first time in the history of NATO that the organization has expressly stated that a situation may warrant the application of the obligation for collective defence. In the statement, it is noted, however, that Article 5 is applicable only if the strikes against the United States have been directed from abroad.

According to Article 5, an armed attack against one Member State is regarded as an attack against all of them. At its summit meeting in 1999, NATO approved a new strategic concept, that in a limited way included the threat of terrorism in NATO strategy.

The statement approved yesterday refers to the decisions of the Washington summit. It notes that at the summit it was anticipated that NATO has to meet security threats, especially terrorism, that differ from those that originally led to its establishment.

The NATO statement - which was not discussed at the General Affairs Council of the European Union - only applies to the members of the military alliance. We do not need, and we are not able, to anticipate the attitudes towards future measures that are still completely open.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs continues to trace Finnish citizens in the affected areas of the United States. We cannot exclude the possibility that the terrorist acts have also had Finnish victims, although there is no specific reason to think that there have been any.