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Belarus ambassador to France on recent terrorist attacks

A wave of terrorist attacks across France began with the attack on the building of the satirical magazine "Charlie Hebdo."

Three armed men with assault rifles and grenade launchers stormed the editorial board. 12 people were killed. Among them is the editor in chief of the weekly and authors of cartoons.

Immediately after the terrorist attack, France announced the highest level of terrorist threat. And the next terrorist attack happened soon afterwards: explosions in several cities. However, this time without casualties.

Then again in Paris, unidentified persons opened fire at police officers, one of whom died. A series of unfortunate events was continued by hostage-taking in one of the shops of the French capital.

Four people were killed. Another 15 hostages were rescued during the storming of the building in Sochi. The criminal was killed.

At the same time, French security forces carried out the operation to capture the perpetrators of the attack on "Charlie Hebdo."

Kouachi brothers barricaded themselves in the building of the printing house near Paris and set off a shootout with police. SWAT assault took the building killing both outlaws.

The latest hostage-taking occurred in the center of Montpellier.

An attacker captured a few people. Later, he voluntarily surrendered to the police. Thus, the investigation will show whether all these events are connected.

Belarus strongly condemns all forms and manifestations of terrorism and extremism.

This week, President Lukashenko sent condolences to President of the French Republic Francois Hollande.

Belarusians lit lamps and brought flowers to the French Embassy in Minsk.

Among the roses and ribbons in the colors of the French tricolor one can see pencils as a symbol of a single weapon of unarmed journalists.

At this moment, a unity march in memory of victims of terrorist attacks continues in Paris.

It started a few hours ago. About a million people took to the streets of the French capital, including about fifty foreign missions.

Belarus ambassador to France Pavel Latushko is also taking part in the march. We can speak to him right now.

Mr Latushko, hello. What is happening now in the center of Paris, who is next to you and what your colleagues from other countries say?  

Pavel Latushko, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Belarus in the French Republic: 
Good evening. Now I am on the Boulevard Voltaire in the eleventh arrondissement. Here I see the French President Francois Hollande, who welcomes the participants of the march and those who applause from almost every window of every house nearby. We can see that many people have on their coat these badges "Je Suis Charlie", posters "We are with Charlie" are posted on the houses and balconies. So people emphasize support for those who died in the building of the French magazine a few days ago. The event is attended by a lot of foreign visitors. We have seen here people representing virtually every country of the European Union and other countries. Nearby are the ambassadors accredited in Paris, who are taking part in this large-scale action.

Diplomats are extremely careful people but even your colleagues and hundreds of experts compare the Paris events this week with events in New York on September 11. Would you agree with such a comparison?

Pavel Latushko:
You know, two days ago, one of the largest French newspapers Le Figaro published on the front page: "September 11 in Paris", comparing the events to those that took place in New York a few years ago. Of course, when it comes to the number of victims, it is difficult to compare these tragic events, but the fact is that the French are touched. This affected the whole society and the entire political elite in a very strong way. As far as the world's response to these events in Paris, we can compare these two events. After all, the arrival of the heads of state to these events proves this. Of course, these events will make French authorities (and not only in France) step up efforts aiming to fight against terrorism. The highest degree of terrorist threat is in force in Paris. All this indicates that the government will intensify its work aimed at preventing the threat of terrorism in France and in other countries.

The events in Paris, the unity march... That cohesion, including at the highest level... Can all this give rise to any peace initiatives in some of current conflicts in the world? In the Middle East or in Ukraine, for example?  

Pavel Latushko:
It should be noted that for the first time in many years, the entire political elite in France are virtually united in the estimates of these events. Of course, this is a great tragedy for France, for the society, but there are, of course, different approaches, assessments and proposals to overcome these situations, further steps to stabilize the national and ethnic situation in France. After all, this is a problem. It has existed many years. And such conflicts, of course, more local ones, occurred in the past. It is important to prevent their recurrence. With regard to the major international conflicts, it is clear that the arrival to this event of world leaders is an additional opportunity to discuss common measures and solve them. I think this can stimulate a deeper appreciation of the events that take place in the world, and the development of joint measures to normalize the situation in the conflict regions of the world that you have mentioned.

According to your observations, what has changed in the lives of ordinary Parisians and tourists? After all, we can no longer call Paris a peaceful city of love and romance...

Pavel Latushko:
This is not the first time Paris has experienced such terrorist attacks. The most large-scale ones took place in 1995 - metro bombings, which killed many people. So, unfortunately, these events are repeated. I think that nothing will change in the life of Paris, but there will be a wound in their hearts, in the hearts of the people.  Yesterday, 700,000 people participated in manifestations and marches in all cities of France. Today, 350,000 people besides Parisians participated in the manifestations. It all will remain in the hearts of the people.

Belarus ambassador to France Pavel Latushko from France