Sunday

28th Feb 2021

European powers focus on Islamic State at UN assembly

The fight against Islamic State (IS) took centre stage from the Ukraine war when European powers spoke at the UN general assembly in New York on Thursday (25 September).

British PM David Cameron mentioned the word “Ukraine” just once in passing in his speech, while going on to say he will seek parliamentary approval to join France and the US in anti-IS air-strikes in Iraq.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Hollande did not mention Ukraine (Photo: elysee.fr)

He noted: “I don’t believe this threat of Islamist extremism will best be solved by Western ground troops directly trying to pacify or reconstruct Middle Eastern or African countries”.

But he said states should do more to combat extremist recruitment by “preachers”, as well as inside schools, prisons, and online.

Both he and French leader Francois Hollande invited Iran, a one-time Western pariah, to join the anti-IS coalition. They also held bilateral meetings with the Iranian president in the margins of the UN event.

Hollande's speech did not mention Ukraine at all.

He denounced IS’ killing earlier the same day of French hostage Herve Gourdel.

He noted that 1,000 French people are among the 15,000 foreign fighters in IS ranks. He said French jihadists will be stripped of their passports and that “terrorist propaganda” websites will be shut down.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan also concentrated on the Middle East.

He criticised the West for “double standards” on IS at the same time as its support for Israel despite Israel's killing of hundreds of civilians in Gaza.

He said Islamophobia is just as toxic as anti-Semitism. He also said Europe, which has taken in 130,000 Syrian refugees, should do more, with Turkey now home to 1.5 million.

For his part, the Spanish king spoke of the need for deeper EU integration and for Spanish to become an official UN language.

Meanwhile, two of Russia’s neighbours - Estonia and Finland - as well as Ukraine itself did put the Ukraine-Russia war at the top of their agenda.

Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves said: “It was not Ukraine's wish even to choose its security alliances [Nato membership] that was used as a justification for aggression. Its mere desire to enhance trade and political relations with the EU ... led to the country's dismemberment”.

“The international community cannot leave Crimea as it is now. We cannot accept frozen conflicts created for geopolitical ends”.

Finnish head of state Sauli Niinisto, who recently met with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and whose country is going ahead with a Russian-built nuclear plant, noted: “There can be only a political solution to the crisis. We have currently seen steps towards this, but a lot of work remains to be done”.

Ukrainian PM Arseniy Yastenyuk said “Russian troops are [still] deployed in the east of Ukraine”.

“We ask our partners not to lift sanctions until Ukraine takes over the control of its entire territory – starting with the east of Ukraine, and ending with Crimea. Crimea was, is, and will be a part of Ukraine”.

But Swiss president Didier Burkhalter, who has tried to mediate between Kiev and Moscow, indicated that Russia should be brought in from the cold.

He said its actions “demand a firm response”.

But he added: “such a response must also be balanced, leaving room for dialogue and co-operation, so that an open discussion of existing differences remains possible. To simply isolate Russia from the rest of Europe will not solve any problems”.

“Stability can be restored in Ukraine and in Europe if we succeed in resolving this crisis by working with Russia – not against it”.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders restate defence 'autonomy' plan
  2. Rights group exposes Ethiopia massacre
  3. US carried out airstrikes against Iran-backed militia in Syria
  4. Malta closes investigation into journalist murder
  5. Dutch parliament calls China treatment of Uighurs genocide
  6. Spain fined €15m by ECJ over data failures
  7. Belarus: Anti-government protester jailed for 10 years
  8. German charged with spying for Russia in Bundestag

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  3. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!

Latest News

  1. Armenia 'coup' shows waning of EU star in South Caucasus
  2. 'Difficult weeks' ahead, as variants spread across EU
  3. EU top court advised to strike down Hungary's asylum policy
  4. Frontex chief: 'about time' MEPs probe his agency
  5. Is EU poised to solve child labour in 'green' batteries?
  6. The trap of spreading ideas while attacking them
  7. Who are the EU's new Russian deplorables?
  8. Afghan asylum family beaten in Greece, set adrift at sea

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us