Friday

18th Jan 2019

Blair and Zapatero in anti-terror 'alliance of civilisations'

British prime minister Tony Blair has thrown his weight behind a Spanish idea for an ‘alliance of civilisations’ to form a united front against terrorism.

The proposal to bring together Christian and Muslim nations was raised by Spain’s leader Jose Rodriguez Zapatero during a bilateral meeting on Wednesday (27 July).

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  • Mr Zapatero and his socialist party swept into power directly after the Madrid bomb attacks last year (Photo: PSOE)

"We discussed the proposal that the Spanish prime minister has made for what he calls an alliance of civilisations, which is the idea that we join together, our countries with Muslim countries", said Mr Blair after the meeting.

"I think this is a proposal with possibilities in it that we can develop over the months to come", he added.

"It is the terrorists who want to stir up these differences between Islam and the rest of the world", said Mr Blair just days after terrorists tried to detonate more bombs in London and two weeks after bombs killed 56 people in the capital.

For his part, Mr Zapatero was careful not to suggest that the UK is in more danger of terrorist attacks because of its continued military presence in Iraq.

"Beyond the positions that each country has adopted on the military intervention in Iraq, I must say the risk is globalised, as we have just seen in the bombing in Egypt".

The terrorist threat is a threat to all. This threat from radical Islamic terrorism affects us all equally", said the Spanish leader.

Mr Zapatero and his socialist party were swept into power directly after the Madrid bomb attacks last year, he immediately reversed the position of the previous conservative government on Iraq and withdrew the country’s troops from the region.

Relations between Mr Blair and the Spanish prime minister, despite sharing the same political platform, have generally been cool.

However, both countries do have shared experiences over the years with Madrid dealing with terrorist group ETA and London with the Irish Republican Army (IRA) - now both have been hit by Islamic fundamentalist terrorism.

Details to be worked out

Details about what an alliance of civilisations would entail are still sketchy but are likely to be worked out over the next few months.

But Mr Blair was keen to stress that Turkey, the huge and mainly Muslim EU-hopeful, would also support the idea.

"Turkey is particularly involved in this - to form a coalition of civilised people from whatever race or religion to combat the barbarity of terrorism", he said.

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