Belgian Justice Minister Koen Geens on Monday rejected international media criticism of his country's response to terrorist threats, just over a month after suicide bombing attacks killed more than 30 people in Brussels.

On March 22, three attackers detonated explosives at the Brussels international airport and the Maelbeek underground station, close to the headquarters of the European Union's main institutions.

In the days and weeks following the attacks, international media focused on Belgium's highly fragmented state apparatus, divided by language and region, arguing that communication failures and other lapses may have hampered a crackdown on terrorist activities.

"Few countries have been attacked so violently by the international press," Geens told EU lawmakers, referring to media descriptions of a "totally inadequate and weak reaction of Belgium to the growing threat."

"That picture has not only damaged the country, it is also an insult to the work of many people at all levels," he added.

Geens said that Belgium had adopted a series of counter-terrorist measures and had been among the first to warn about foreign fighters - Europeans who fight alongside extremist groups in Iraq or Syria and could return home radicalized and ready to strike.

When a French Islamist, Mehdi Nemmouche, shot dead four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels in May 2014, Belgium "did not try to blame anyone," Geens said, hinting that other countries could have done more to prevent the attack.

Both Geens and Interior Minister Jan Jambon recognized that mistakes had been made. The Belgian parliament has set up a commission to investigate the Brussels attacks.

"We are going to look very hard at our own performances to strengthen our weak points," Jambon told the EU lawmakers.

But they also called on Belgium's partners in the European Union to step up the fight against terrorism, notably by increasing efforts to share information among member states.

Jambon said the threat level remained elevated in Belgium. Strategic areas such as large train stations, airports and nuclear sites were under heavy surveillance, he said, while authorities were monitoring "soft targets" such as cinemas and shopping centres.

On Monday, the Maelbeek underground station reopened for the first time since the attacks, returning public transport in the Belgian capital to normal after weeks of limited service. Police and military personnel were due to provide additional security.

A commemorative board has been erected in the Maelbeek station for people to leave messages. On Saturday, the site was opened for visits by victims and those who lost family or loved ones, the Belga news agency reported.

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.