Europe is shaken by the recent IS attacks on the Parisian people. Many governments call for a common response to terrorism. The French Government rightly invoked Article 42.7 of the Lisbon Treaty that foresees an obligation of aid and assistance of all EU Members. Although this article clearly states that “This shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States”, it is clearer than ever that the EU is now part of the struggle against IS.
It is clear that this struggle cannot only be won with military means. There is a need for building bridges in our societies and for more effective integration policies. We need to build bridges between communities through dialogue and conversation. We believe in fundamental freedoms and rights and continue to defend them. ECPM believes this is the key answer to the terrorist attacks.
We ask for serious caution in linking the refugee stream with recent terrorist attacks. One of the reasons why Syrians are coming to Europe is because of IS violence. It is in the interest of IS to create hostility towards the refugees: terrorism wants to create more fear and division. Instead of linking the refugee stream to terrorist attacks, it is far better to put all focus on more effective policies in dealing with those who flee from danger and violence.
The ECPM calls on the citizens of all EU Member States not to allow hate and division to overtake, nor to give up our security, freedoms and values. We should continue all efforts to include the Muslim community in Europe in our societies by building bridges and keeping the dialogue. It is important to remember that muslims worldwide have condemned IS for its extremisms and brutality.
However, it is clear that this struggle needs to include military action as well. As the main bases of IS are in Eastern Syria it is clear that IS needs to be defeated there. The ECPM has continually and coherently called for a strategy that aims not only to defeat IS effectively but also included the start up of a process of democracy and respect for fundamental freedoms in the area. The Democratic Self Administration (Rojava), although still in a stage of development, already shows it aims to safeguard fundamental freedoms and create cooperation between Kurds, Arabs, Syriac Christians and others. Their joint Syrian Democratic Forces have proven to be the most effective ground force against IS in Syria. The USA has decided to send support to these forces and offer air support.
In our opinion the most effective strategy for EU Member States is to cooperate with the USA and enhance and complete their cooperation with the Syrian Democratic Forces. Rebuilding and development are crucial to quell the source of terrorism in the long run. Fundamental freedoms such as democracy and the rule of law are key to prevent terrorism after the defeat of IS.
ECPM does not see how Russia and Turkey can bring the needed change in Syria. Russia itself has started a violent conflict with Ukraine and is conducting a random bombing campaign in Syria that has in general worsened the situation.
The ECPM underlines that both the OSCE and the White House as well as Members of European Parliament who observed the Turkish elections of November 1st have reported many cases of violence and voter intimidation, especially against the Kurdish people in Turkey. Furthermore the OSCE reports oppression of the media. There is growing evidence that IS has received long term support via Turkey, including support from elements in the Turkish governmental apparatus. Turkey needs to understand that its tactics against the DSA/Rojava are unacceptable. Given this background the EU and USA should not accept that Turkish troops would enter Syria or maintain a presence in Syria in any form.
Lastly, ECPM calls for a united front against terrorism and especially against IS, but we suggest only to work together with allies that want to combat terrorism in order to promote and safeguard peace and fundamental freedoms in Syria and Iraq.