Europe and the Arab world united against terror

Europe and the Arab world united against terror

The chain of attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait is a stark reminder that no country and no region can ignore the challenge posed by terrorists. They aim at destabilising our societies by spreading fear, suspicion, prejudice. Both Europe and the Arab world are targeted. Together we cry for our victims – and together we will stand against violence and sectarianism. The terrorists want to divide us: our response will be more unity. No nation, no power can carry out this fight alone. We need a truly global alliance, an alliance of civilisations. For this is not a fight among different worlds, the North versus the South, the West versus the Rest. We face the same challenge. We are witnessing an unprecedented attempt to manipulate religion to justify terrorism and to foster divisions inside our societies. We will not fall into the trap. Europe stays committed to defending the security of its citizens while safeguarding the diversity of our societies. The European Union will keep working with all its partners to fight terrorism and shore up peace and stability in our neighbourhood. I offer my condolences to the people of France, Tunisia, and Kuwait and to all the families of those killed and wounded today. My thoughts also go to the people of Syria, Iraq and also Nigeria, who are among the first victims of terrorist attacks almost every...
Islam belongs in Europe

Islam belongs in Europe

Today I spoke at the Call to Europe conference organised by FEPS here in Brussels. I am pasting here a few passages from the speech, the full text is here. The idea of a clash between Islam and “the West” – a word in which everything is put together and confused – has misled our policies and our narratives. Islam holds a place in our Western societies. Islam belongs in Europe. It holds a place in Europe’s history, in our culture, in our food and – what matters most – in Europe’s present and future. (…) Some people are now trying to convince us that a Muslim cannot be a good European citizen, that more Muslims in Europe will be the end of Europe. These people are not just mistaken about Muslims: these people are mistaken about Europe, they have no clue what Europe and the European identity are. (…) The so-called Islamic State is putting forward an unprecedented attempt to pervert Islam for justifying a wicked political and strategic project. … Daʼesh is Islam’s worst enemy in today’s world. Its victims are first and foremost Muslim people. Islam is a victim itself. (…) I am not afraid to say that political Islam should be part of the picture. Religion plays a role in politics – not always for good, not always for bad. Religion can be part of the process. What makes the difference is whether the process is democratic or not. (…) Maybe we should also take time to brush up on the “acquis” with some Member States. We have a problem of internal coherence. … We have...
Our efforts to save migrants: the naval operation, and all the rest

Our efforts to save migrants: the naval operation, and all the rest

Less than two months ago, the European Council tasked us to prepare an operation in the Mediterranean, to save lives, first of all, and disrupt the business model of human traffickers and smugglers. The operation is being launched today. It is probably the first time the European Union takes the issue of migration so seriously and acts in such a fast way, with unanimity and unity. The target, let me be very clear, are not the migrants, the targets are those who are making money on their lives and too often on their deaths. But this is just one part of a bigger strategy to save lives. From the external affairs’ perspective, our work is focusing on what happens before men, women and children reach the Mediterranean shores. That is why I met the five Foreign ministers of the Sahel countries just last week, with a special focus on Niger and the region of Agadez. That is why we are working with the African Union on our Summit in Malta later this year. And with the African countries in particular we are working on economic opportunities, employment opportunities for the young people, the control of the borders and the fight against international crime and criminal organisations. We also work on an everyday basis on the root causes, namely poverty and crises and conflicts – in particular in Syria, in Yemen and in Libya – as well as with the UN agencies dealing with migrants and refugees in countries of transit. The naval operation will be conducted in partnership with our international partners. Member States from all parts of the European Union are contributing: it is...
Working with Sahel: common challenges call for common answers

Working with Sahel: common challenges call for common answers

Today I hosted a meeting of the G5 Sahel group here in Brussels, at the External Action Service, with the foreign ministers of Mauritania, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, Niger. Sahel is a crucial area for the stability of the whole North Africa, and we share so many interests and concerns. Think of migrations: most of the routes leading to Libya and Europe run through Sahel, that is something we cannot forget. This is not simply about border control. We discussed concrete measures to foster economic development in the region, starting from good jobs for the youth. We are engaged to fight international crime, which has such a huge responsibility in smuggling human beings, weapons and drugs through the desert. This is what we mean when we talk – in Brussels’ jargon – of a “comprehensive approach” to migrations. And more: the fight against terrorism, or against climate change. These issues call for global answers, and for close cooperation with our partners. Today’s meeting was not just very frank, it was also operational. We discussed real solutions to pur shared problems. It was our first meeting in this format, and I am sure it won’t be the last – the plan is to schedule our next summit in...