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).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • 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.

German spies to monitor far-right AfD party

Germany's domestic spy agency, the BfV, is to start monitoring the far-right AfD party in a move endorsed by the government, but decried as a witch-hunt by the party's leaders.

EU warns Romania over corruption amnesty

Juncker warned Romania's government not to move ahead with plans to grant amnesty for corruption, as more than 200 EU laws await decisions during Bucharest's presidency.

Romania mired in corruption woes as presidency begins

With the country's de facto leader filing a lawsuit at the EU's top court over report accusing him of corruption, and concerns of the country's rule of law, Romania's EU presidency kicked off in Bucharest to a rocky start.

News in Brief

  1. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  2. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  3. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden
  4. Putin opposes EU prospects of Serbia and Kosovo
  5. Tsipras launches campaign to ratify Macedonia deal
  6. US-EU meeting in doubt after Trump cancels plane
  7. Germany and China to sign pact on finance cooperation
  8. Labour divided on second Brexit vote plan


EU parliament vote strengthens whistleblower protection

We must not undervalue what a massive step the European Parliament vote represents. The hard work has paid off. We can take a moment to celebrate, but the hard work begins again for finalising strong protection for European whistleblowers.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Germany led way on EU human rights protection
  2. How to troll the European Parliament elections
  3. MEPs in Strasbourg: everywhere but the plenary
  4. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  5. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  6. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  7. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  8. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us