OPINION

Europe’s September 11

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Europe will never be the same again. The City of Light is in mourning again and, sadly, will once more become a reference point due to a new tragedy. A rise in xenophobia will follow and the voices against Islam will grow. France has closed its borders. Maybe other countries will follow suit. Some may suspend the Schengen rules.

Europe is under pressure to act by confronting the problem at its root through political initiatives in cooperation with the USA, Russia and Muslim countries, and with military action to take on ISIS and end the war in Syria, as well as addressing the refugee crisis more effectively.

In this respect, Greece has a crucial role to play and the Greek government can try to gain the understanding and support of its partners. But it does not have the luxury of differentiating its position. A united stance is the only option.

The Islamic State has accepted responsibility and already has London and Rome in its targets. There is no doubt that there are jihadist cells in major European cities that need to be tackled. The tug-of-war between freedom and security, which the US has lived with since September 11, is now manifesting itself in Europe, which will have to find its own fragile balance.

The first instinctive reactions are on the hand the feeling of fear and appeals for counter-measures and, on the other, a rare rallying of society, of regular people and all democratic citizens. Developed societies should not act in the heat of the moment. But, it is also clear that there is no time to waste.

The international community will come together and act. The US will offer know-how and the capacity that only its military machine has. NATO as a whole will also contribute to the effort. Even the relationship with Russia will change.

The next 24 hours will be reminiscent of the days that followed September 11. This is September 11 for Europe, not just France. Leaders and citizens are being called upon to show the political ability, social maturity and operational effectiveness that the new reality demands at a time when the shadow cast by terrorism and extremism over the continent becomes darker.