Former New York mayor recalls events of September 11

The former mayor of New York, Rudi Giuliani, was speaking in Zurich on Monday swissinfo.ch

The former mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, recalled his experience of the September 11 terrorist attacks during a visit to Zurich this week.

This content was published on March 26, 2002 - 08:29

Giuliani, who served as mayor of the city of New York from 1993 until the end of 2001, also expressed his thanks to the Swiss people for their "support and the warmth and generosity of their response to the crisis that we faced last year".

"A good deal of the reason why the people of New York and the United States were able to be so resilient and withstand the worst attack in the history of our country was because of the tremendous support we received both within the US and throughout the world," Giuliani said.

Giuliani, who won praise for his management of the rescue and clear-up operation in the aftermath of the attacks on New York's World Trade Center last September, was invited to Switzerland by banking group Credit Suisse to address a specially invited audience of politicians and business leaders.

The former mayor, who was knighted by the Queen at a ceremony in London last month, referred to a "special relationship" between Switzerland and the United States.

"We are both democracies...and we also share a federal system of government, which makes people from Switzerland and America understand each other very well," Giualini commented.

"This is why they do business together so well and why tourism is so strong. The only thing you lack is the New York Yankees," he joked.

Shielded from danger

Giuliani, a former US attorney, also reflected on the dual issues of security and safety in the light of the September 11 attacks.

"This time last year people didn't realise how dangerous the world is that we live in, because they were shielded from the danger."

"September 11 lifted that shield and now we are looking at the world as it exists," Giualini explained.

"And by virtue of that, we are safer, because we are now at least dealing with the realistic threats which face us," he further elaborated.

Asked for his personal response to the events of September 11, Giuliani said he did not yet know how the terrorist attacks would shape the rest of his life.

"How long does it take to get over losing a mother or a father, a husband or a wife? It takes more than six or seven months to put it in perspective," he told an audience of 1,200 people assembled at Zurich's Kongresshaus.

"But [September 11] has made me much more convinced of the powerful ideas of democracy, economic freedom and human rights," he added.

Fitting memorial

Shortly before leaving office last December, Giuliani appointed a committee with a mandate to decide what kind of permanent memorial should be placed on the site once occupied by the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

Giuliani, who was named 2001 Person of the Year by American news magazine "Time", said he hoped a library and interactive museum would be constructed around a permanent memorial at the site.

"We should build a monument which is of elegance, grace and power, equal to the power and grace of the people who died there protecting freedom," he said.

by Ramsey Zarifeh

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