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Main focus of Thursday, January 17, 2013

EU prepares for mission in Mali

France deployed ground forces against the Islamists for the first time on Wednesday. (© AP/dapd)

The EU foreign ministers hope to reach a consensus on a training mission for Mali's military at their emergency meeting today, Thursday. However they continue to reject the idea of joint military intervention. Europe must prevent the creation of an Islamist terrorist state on its doorstep, some commentators demand. Others argue that Mali is purely a French issue.

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

Mali is France's problem, not Europe's

The foreign ministers of the EU states have convened for an emergency meeting in Brussels on the crisis in Mali this Thursday morning. It remains open whether France's desire for greater European involvement will be addressed. The conservative daily Lidové noviny advises against such action: "Is there any argument in favour of concerted European intervention? Paris would welcome greater commitment on Europe's part and has made no bones about this. Whether they like it or not the Europeans must, however, keep in mind that France in the end remains France and is doing what it always does. Let us remember where and how France defends its interests. When it comes to the Mediterranean, the Arab world and North Africa France is always active. But when in August 2008 Georgia had to fight off a Russian offensive it was Paris that opposed any steps against Moscow and threatened to put a stop to the EU partnership with the eastern states. With all due respect, it's only logical now that Mali is France's problem, not Europe's." (17/01/2013)

El País - Spain

Europe must prevent terrorist state

Islamist militants have taken control of a natural gas field in Algeria on Wednesday. According to reports at least two people died during the attack and a number of foreigners have been taken hostage. Europe and Mali's neighbouring countries must join forces and back France's resolute action, the left-liberal daily El País urges: "Europe cannot allow a Jihad state to be created in Mali, practically on its doorstep. And nor can its neighbours allow this to happen. Above all Algeria, which until now has refused to act, has much to lose. The North African arm of al-Qaida attacked buildings and kidnapped an unspecified number of foreigners on its territory yesterday. ... With his decisive reaction, French President François Hollande has gained stature at home and abroad. But the objective cannot only be to 'destroy the terrorists', as he described his intention. This is not just about Mali, the entire Sahel has become an Islamist powder keg that must be defused. But to do that, weapons alone will not be enough." (17/01/2013)

De Telegraaf - Netherlands

Only logistical support for France

The Dutch want to support France in the Mali conflict by deploying transport planes. The right decision, the conservative tabloid De Telegraaf writes: "Apart from the dangers posed by the territorial advances of a terrorist group, this problematic corner of Africa is facing a humanitarian disaster as a result of the huge flood of refugees the war could set in motion. For that reason the Dutch cannot just sit back and look on, but must join the international coalition against the rebels. ... But the government needs greater public approval even for this limited deployment. ... Because many Dutch citizens are concerned about the prospect of what could potentially be a protracted ground war under French leadership in a country situated in far-away Africa. A country that has been a wasps' nest for years and that has received a great deal of international development aid. For that reason there can be no question of a carte blanche for further Dutch military deployment." (17/01/2013)

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

Military intervention alone won't bring peace

In the battle against Islamist rebels France deployed ground forces in Mali on Wednesday. But military intervention won't be enough to establish enduring peace in the country, the liberal-conservative Neue Zürcher Zeitung contends: "In Africa, where regional organisations with a military component are still in the initial stages of development, the Nato states have no option but to take action when it comes to defending their security interests. ... The Europeans, as President François Hollande has rightly pointed out, can't simply delegate this unpleasant task to the US. ... One of the lessons Afghanistan has taught us is that the armed forces alone are not up to the task of fighting terrorism. They can temporarily force back rebels with well targeted strikes. ... But permanent peace can only come from an approach that takes account of all society and the deeper causes of political violence. Without credible local partners - this is another thing Afghanistan has taught us - any intervention from abroad runs the danger of eventually being perceived as an occupying regime." (17/01/2013)

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