Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said Wednesday he did not blame Belgium for Monday’s terror attack, as he called for stricter border security across Europe.
Kristersson traveled to Brussels to attend a commemoration in honor of the two victims of Monday’s attack, in which a gunman shot and killed two Swedish football fans.
Shortly after the vigil in Brussels, Kristersson held a joint press conference with Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, where the leaders spoke about the need to better protect European borders and to create more efficient return policies for migrants.
“It’s a fight we will win and we will win it together,” De Croo said. “It is also clear that more united European action is needed.”
The attacker — who was killed by police on Tuesday morning — was a 45-year-old Tunisian man who had been living in Belgium illegally since his request for asylum was rejected in 2020. The gunman was well known to authorities, both in Belgium and abroad, as a security threat.
But Kristersson rejected the idea that Belgium was to blame, as he said most European countries face similar challenges when trying to send home asylum-seekers whose requests are denied. According to Kristersson, the man had also been detained in Sweden — something that shows a need for better information sharing between countries.
“We have exactly the same problem in Sweden,” he said. “Since we have the same problem, I don’t blame Belgium at all.”
In addition to stricter border controls, leaders called for more efficient return policies. Member countries should have the power to force people who pose a national security threat to leave, von der Leyen said. And this must happen in coordination between European countries and with countries of origin.
“We as Europeans will have to define who comes to the European Union and under what circumstances,” she said.