German Foreign Minister: "There are no obvious recipes for tackling terrorism" 

 
 

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Frank-Walter Steinmeier during the meeting with the foreign affairs committee  

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier discussed the repercussions of Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris with the foreign affairs committee on 16 November. "There are no obvious recipes for tackling terrorism," Steinmeier said, adding "Military action alone will not be sufficient in overcoming the problem." Meanwhile committee chair Elmar Brok, a German EPP member, warned against confusing migration and terrorism: "Refugees are the victims of terror, not part of the terror."

The aftermath of the Paris terrorist atrocities and the need to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis were the focus of a meeting of the foreign affairs committee with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on 16 November. While Steinmeier emphasised that there was "no reason for optimism or euphoria", he noted that some hope can nevertheless be garnered from the recent Syria talks in Vienna which succeeded in getting the US and Russia together, as well as Iran and Saudi Arabia.


Steinmeier said that while it may sound "utopian", a roadmap for a ceasefire had been agreed upon: "The opposition and the Syrian army should no longer be fighting one another; otherwise they will have no force left to fight IS and Al Nusra. Six months from now the members of a transitional government should have been nominated, and in eighteen months' time there should be elections."


Javier Nart, a Spanish ALDE member,  asked: "How can we fight IS if the military strategists say they need five and a half years?" Takis Hadjigeorgiou, a GUE/NGL member from Cyprus,  noted that Turkey was fighting the Peshmerga, while Europe was supporting both Turkey and the Peshmerga.


German Greens member Barbara Lochbihler welcomed the Syria roadmap reached in Vienna, but noted that the issue of Assad had yet to be resolved: "We are faced with some very serious war crimes, the culprits of which should not be able to get away with impunity."


Response to the Paris attacks


In light of the Paris attacks, French EPP member Michèle Alliot Marie wondered if now was the time to implement article 222 of the Lisbon Treaty which states "the Union and its member states shall act jointly in a spirit of solidarity if a member state is the object of a terrorist attack." She added: "This may be the time to kick-start the whole issue of a European defence force."


UK S&D member Afzal Khan said: "More needs to be done to secure our external borders and to share intelligence more effectively." He also noted: "Many European Muslims now fear reprisal attacks and more discrimination."


Several MEPs addressed the issue of Schengen and communication between law enforcement bodies across Europe. Charles Tannock, a UK member of the ECR group, asked: "Why did the German police not notify the French authorities reportedly of a Montenegrin car apprehended at the Austrian border, full of arms and heading for Paris about a week ago?"


James Carver, a UK member of the EFDD group,  said there was a "lack of sufficient border controls" and asked if the Paris attacks "effectively mean the end of Schengen and the core principal of the free movement of people?"


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