Monday, June 6, 2016

Hollande acknowledges threat of Euro 2016 attack

President Francois Hollande on Sunday sought to dispel the threat of strikes and dread of terrorism hanging over France as the country readies to host the Euro 2016 football championship.

Five days before Paris showcases one of the world's top sporting events, Hollande tried to lift a grim national mood that has been compounded by devastating floods.

Hollande acknowledged that the threat of an attack during the Euros could not be discounted but France must not be intimated.

"This threat exists," he told the public radio station France Inter. "But we must not be daunted."

"This threat will last for a long time, unfortunately," he said. "So we must do everything to ensure that the Euro 2016 is a success."

The country is on high alert following jihadist attacks in Paris in January and November last year that left nearly 150 dead.

The United States warned last week that the lure of the Euros could also tempt terror attacks.

The French authorities have mustered 90,000 security personnel to guard stadiums and "fan zones" where spectators will gather to watch the matches on giant screens.

France, said Hollande, has to ensure that the matches go ahead and the fan zones are secure -- and do all it can to turn the competition into "a popular, sporting European party."

But he also called on striking workers in the transport sector, who are protesting at planned labor reforms, to return to work.

"No-one would understand if the trains or the planes... prevented the smooth transport... of spectators," Hollande said.

"I want this (labor dispute) to be resolved," he said.

A final round of negotiations is due to take place on Monday in a bid to end a five-day strike that has knocked out train services in much of the country.

Workers in refuse collection centers and refineries are also being called out in the coming days in a bid to have the contested labor laws scrapped.

Air France pilots, in an internal conflict within the airline, are threatening to start a four-day strike on June 11, when the Euros are in full swing, and a major protest is planned in Paris on June 14...

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