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Never forget echoes across Europe 15 years after 9/11

| September 12, 2016

Even today, it remains difficult to overstate the impact of the attack on the World Trade Center, September 11, 2001. It fundamentally changed our societies, our sense of security and our freedom. Since that dark day fifteen years ago, a plague of heinous violence has claimed many innocent lives, and Islamic terrorism has expanded its cowardly campaign in Europe.

Madrid, London, Paris, Brussels, Munich, Nice. The list of cities grows and the victim toll rises. These acts of violence tear at our communities and attack the foundations of our culture based on freedom.

Fortunately, some of us have resolved to respond. Often, it’s in the way we have refused to let acts of terror get the better of us that we see our western society at its greatest. We find it in the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform to provide security on our streets and to protect our way of life. At a ceremony over the weekend near the US Embassy in Budapest attended by Minister of Interior Sándor Pintér, Ambassador Colleen Bell remarked, “First responders truly represent the best of humanity, and it is their example that must continue to inspire us all.” Over 400 fire and police department staff died evacuating the towers after the attacks on 9/11. Hungary’s finest are also serving here at home – in our cities and on our borders – and abroad. Just last month, 139 Hungarian troops were rotated into Iraq to help with local training as part of Hungary’s commitment to fight international terrorism. Hungary has also stepped up border control measures since last year and recently announced the recruitment of 3000 police officers.

We can honor the victims and those who protect us every day by strengthening our resolve to make security a priority and to live with determination and dignity, taking pride in our culture and our societies based on individual liberty, living as Europeans. And by speaking frankly about what we confront today in Europe.

“Terrorism has moved to Europe,” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in a statement on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of 9/11. “The threat of terrorism, and the possibility that attacks may occur, have become part of Europeans’ everyday lives. Across a large swathe of Europe everyday security is now a thing of the past. Hungary itself is in a region that is not free from danger, and the security of our country is also at risk.”

“Our American friends can continue to rely on us,” the prime minister continued. “We stand by them, with the strength we are able to muster, in order to protect our world and way of life, and the security of our citizens.”

Improving security globally and regionally is a task Europe must take seriously. Remembering the victims and expressing compassion with their families and friends is too little. Their loss and suffering is meaningless if we do not draw the right conclusions and take action against terrorists pouring into Europe, as well as European citizens turning toward IS/Daesh. Our commitment to our values, our Christianity and to safeguarding our citizens must be stronger than ever. The way Europe handles the migration crisis and the increasing terrorist threat will define the future of our continent.