EU heads of state and government opened their videoconference meeting on Thursday evening by issuing a collective statement in support of France following the knife attack at a church in Nice.
The leaders convened virtually to discuss the coronavirus pandemic, including the reimposition of lockdown measures in many countries in Europe, France among them, in a bid to slow the second wave of infections.
The attack Thursday morning, in which three people were killed, only deepened the somber mood.
“We, European Leaders, are shocked and saddened by the terrorist attacks in France,” the leaders said in their statement. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms these attacks which represent attacks on our shared values. We stand united and firm in our solidarity with France, with the French people and the Government of France — in our common and continued fight against terrorism and violent extremism.”
Thursday’s attack came two weeks after the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty, who was killed near Paris by a man of Chechen origin days after he used cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a class discussion about freedom of speech.
The EU leaders added, “We call on Leaders around the world to work towards dialogue and understanding among communities and religions rather than division.”