G20 to discuss threat of Isis infiltrators among EU migrants after Paris attacks
World leaders have begun meeting in to discuss the effect of the refugee crisis on European security after terrorist attacks in Paris left 129 dead and several hundred injured.
claimed responsibility for a string of coordinated gun attacks and suicide bombings in the French capital on Friday. Seven extremists opened fire on restaurants, bars and a concert hall, and detonated suicide vests near the Stade de France in the deadliest attack on European soil in more than a decade.
The French president, François Hollande, is the only major political figure absent from the G20 summit on Sunday as . He is also expected to take part in the three days of official mourning.
In his absence, the G20 have started to discuss the threat of Isis infiltrators among EU migrants and refugees, an issue that was thrown into the spotlight on Saturday after it emerged at least flagged as arriving in Greece on a typical refugee route. It has not been confirmed whether the passport is genuine.
EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker had said before the summit: “We should not mix the different categories of people coming to . The one responsible for the attacks in Paris … he is a criminal and not a refugee and not an asylum seeker.
“I would invite those in Europe who try to change the migration agenda we have adopted – I would like to remind them to be serious about this and not to give in to these basic reactions that I do not like.I see the difficulty but I don’t see the need to change our general approach.”
The issue will form part of a broader discussion on solving the conflict in and is likely to cause discord at the summit, with some leaders arguing for much stricter border controls while others are more sensitive to the Schengen arrangements, particularly the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who has led in welcoming refugees.
The EU is predicting that as many as 3 million refugees will arrive next year if there is no end to the Syrian civil war and has been making the case for more refugees to be given jobs and education in the semi-permanent camps on the border of Syria to discourage them from making the perilous journey.
It is believed the G20 leaders will announce tougher border controls and increased airport security in the wake of the . According to Reuters, a draft of their joint statement on the attack includes a unified commitment to fighting terrorism and alterations to border checks.
as part of the government’s pledge to rehouse 20,000 people. Home Office officials emphasised over the weekend that it would go ahead as planned and that the security services had “vetting in place” to prevent any Isis sympathisers infiltrating the group.
Meanwhile, Turkey has been demanding extra financial help to house the refugees, and a clearer EU position on a quota for each EU country to take refugees. Some countries want the Turks to do more to close the border with Syria.
The G20 meeting was due to address terrorism and migration at a dinner on Sunday evening, before discussing climate change, corporate tax avoidance and the overall state of the world economy on Monday.
In the wake of the Paris attacks, discussions will be dominated by the growing concern that and transforming into a global terrorist network capable of wreaking devastation in western cities.
The attacks are expected to give added urgency to striking at Isis within Syria and finding a broader peace settlement. Cameron is also due to hold bilateral talks with Vladimir Putin on Monday, his first since the last G20 in Brisbane a year ago. The British prime minister will be trying to gauge whether there is any possibility of the Russians dropping their commitment to Bashar al-Assad being able to stand in Syrian elections, and whether a deal could be struck about Assad’s role in an interim administration. He is also likely to discuss the Russian bombing campaign, and its apparent targeting of moderate Syrian forces opposed to Assad.
A peace conference in Vienna on Saturday – the second in a week – agreed that there should be elections in Syria in 18 months’ time, but there was no agreement on whether Assad, seen as a potential war criminal by the west, should be allowed to stand in those elections. The west has said he could play a part in the transition, but there has also been no agreement on which of the myriad groups in Syria would be classified as terrorist and as a result debarred from the political process leading to a new government. It is regarded as a form of progress that the talks involving all the key regional players, including Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the EU and the US are taking place at all.
Meanwhile, the G20 summit’s Turkish hosts are coping with 2 million refugees and operating as the chief transit country to the EU for Syrian refugees. They are expected to urge President Obama to take a more aggressive stance in enforcing no-fly zones and safe havens. The US president has been wary of such a move, saying it would require ground troops to make such havens truly safe from attacks either by Syrian government forces, or Isis.
The US is frustrated by the reluctance of the Turkish president, Tayyip Erdoğan, to join the campaign against Isis, though his country eventually decided to start bombing the militants this summer and also allowed the US to launch its own airstrikes from key bases in the country. Erdoğan is concerned the air campaign is helping the formation of a Kurdish independent state.
There was no immediate sign that the outrage will lead Cameron to change his calculus about seeking Commons authorisation for the RAF to extend airstrikes from Iraq to Syria, partly because there is no sign that the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is willing to drop his opposition to such an air campaign.
Corbyn was due to have security briefings this weekend and has been resolute in his condemnations of the Paris terror outrage. But he was also due to condemn the futility of western wars in the Middle East in a speech he withdrew in the wake of the Paris attacks.
More than 250,000 people have been killed in Syria in clashes between rebels and forces loyal to Assad. Eleven million people have been uprooted from their homes, sparking a massive migration crisis in Europe that is also expected to be on the agenda at the G20 meeting.
All the leaders at the summit know that any action against Isis is likely to lead to retaliation: has been targeted due to its forward role against Isis, including its air bombing campaign, and the Russian airliner downed over Sinai was attacked after Moscow intervened in Syria.
So Obama has authorised airstrikes and sent small teams of special forces acting as advisers to aid Iraqi military units, Syrian rebels and Kurdish fighters on the ground, some of whom have been making strides in recent days in pushing back Isis in Iraq.