Friday

22nd Nov 2019

Mogherini: This is the most serious war of our times

The fight against the Islamic State and the conflict in Syria is the gravest war we face in our times, the EU diplomatic chief said on Monday (16 November), following the meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

“This is not just a crisis, but the most serious war of our times,” Federica Mogherini told reporters.

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She repeated that Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 129 people highlight the importance of talks on Syria in Vienna.

Reflecting on the talks in Vienna on Syria over the weekend, Mogherini said that there is a sense of urgency coming from Europe, pressed both by terrorist threats and a refugee crisis, that cannot be ignored by any of the actors around the negotiating table.

“This needs to come up with results sooner rather than later,” she said. "It must be a matter of months, not years."

Mogherini noted that a political solution in Syria “would be the best condition to defeat Daesh,” using the Arabic name for the Islamic State group. “Putting an end to the civil war would definitely create the conditions to defeat Daesh on the ground.”

As the meeting got underway the ministers stood for a minute of silence to honour the victims.

European defence ministers will meet on Tuesday and discuss France's invoking of a mutual defence clause in the EU Treaty that calls for member states’ to help another member state that comes under attack.

Fear can destroy

Mogherini said she fears European societies might think that it is diversity that weakens and threatens the continent. “It is actually fear that can destroy our society from within,” she said.

“Coming together in our differences is a strength,” Mogherini warned. "We need to hold onto this."

The EU diplomatic chief also stressed that the Paris attacks represent an internal threat to the EU.

“The profile of the terrorists so far identified tells us this is an internal threat,” she said.

Mogherini added: “It's all EU citizens so far. This can change with the hours, but so far this is an issue of internal domestic security with strong links to an entity, a terrorist organization that has its main strongpoint in Syria and Iraq.”

Echoing her boss, EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker’s comments on Sunday, Mogherini said there should be no mix-up or confusion between refugees and terrorists.

“It would be extremely dangerous and counterproductive for our continent,” she warned, saying the refugees are fleeing the same threats that Europe now faces.

France seeks answers to security challenge

Police raids in France and strikes in Syria after the deadly Paris attacks show French authorities have to find internal and external strategies against terrorism.

EU states fell short on sharing refugees, say auditors

A two-year scheme to send asylum seekers from Greece and Italy to other EU states fell short of its potential, say EU auditors. Some 35,000 were helped - but auditors say 445,000 in Greece alone could have also potentially benefited.

Erdogan: refugees will enter Europe unless EU does more

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Ankara will "open the doors" for refugees and migrants to enter Europe unless it does more to help. The EU says it won't help Turkey create a so-called "safe zone" in north-east Syria.

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