G20 Summit to discuss post-COVID world: EU leaders

G20 Summit to discuss post-COVID world: EU leaders
The summit “could mark a new beginning for global cooperation,” said Ursula von der Leyen. (AFP)
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Updated 21 November 2020

G20 Summit to discuss post-COVID world: EU leaders

G20 Summit to discuss post-COVID world: EU leaders
  • The EU leaders recognized the urgency of addressing COVID-19 as well as climate change

DUBAI: The G20 Summit in Riyadh on Nov. 21-22 will discuss what a post-COVID-19 world will look like, EU leaders said in a briefing on Friday.

The summit “could mark a new beginning for global cooperation,” said Ursula von der Leyen, head of the EU Commission.

EU Council President Charles Michel said the summit will chart “what we want (the world) to look like” after the pandemic.

Both leaders recognized the urgency of addressing COVID-19 as well as climate change, and Von der Leyen called for continuous investment in developing and distributing vaccines against the virus.

She discussed updates on COVAX, a global initiative to ensure swift and equitable distribution.

“Pledges of $1.8 billion have recently been made for vaccine procurement through COVAX, for low- and middle-income countries, but more will be needed. The estimates are around $5 billion,” she said, adding that funds are also needed for testing and treatment.

“The total needs are estimated to be $38 billion, of which $4 billion have been made available so far,” she said.

Von der Leyen said she and other international figures have written to the G20 leaders asking for support to mobilize the necessary funds.

She discussed future preparedness and the importance for countries to draw lessons from the pandemic.

Michel said an international treaty on pandemics “would help prevent” future ones “and help us respond more quickly and in a more coordinated manner.”

The World Health Organization “must remain the cornerstone of global coordination against health emergencies, and a treaty on pandemics could implement its efforts,” he added.

Although public health seemed to be of prime importance, both EU leaders agreed that there are other issues the G20 leaders need to discuss at the summit.

Von der Leyen said it is important to “maintain economic support measures” as the world recovers from the pandemic. “Our collective recovery must be sustainable and inclusive,” she added.

Climate change will also be a major topic, both leaders said. “At the summit, I’ll urge G20 partners to commit to the full and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement,” Von der Leyen said.

Michel said: “Our focus this year is clearly on fighting the pandemic, but the threats of climate change are no less urgent today than yesterday.”

Both leaders expressed hope that the summit will bear actionable plans to address COVID-19 and other global issues.


France targets mosques in extremism crackdown

Updated 03 December 2020

France targets mosques in extremism crackdown

France targets mosques in extremism crackdown
  • Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said that if any of the 76 prayer halls inspected were found to promote extremism they would be closed down
  • Inspections are part of France’s response to two attacks — the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty and the killing of three people in a Nice church

PARIS: French authorities will inspect dozens of mosques and prayer halls suspected of radical teachings starting Thursday as part of a crackdown on extremists following a spate of attacks, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said.

Darmanin told RTL radio that if any of the 76 prayer halls inspected was found to promote extremism they would be closed down.

The inspections are part of the government’s response to two brutal recent attacks that shocked France — the October 16 beheading of a teacher who showed his pupils cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad and the stabbing to death of three people in a church in Nice on October 29.

Darmanin did not reveal which places of worship would be inspected. In a note he sent to regional security chiefs, seen by AFP, he cites 16 addresses in the Paris region and 60 others around the country.

On Twitter Wednesday he said the mosques were suspected of “separatism” — a term President Emmanuel Macron has used to describe ultraconservative Muslims closing themselves off from French society by, for example, enrolling their children in underground schools or forcing young girls to wear the Muslim headscarf.

The rightwing minister told RTL the fact that only a fraction of the around 2,600 Muslim places of worship in France were suspected of peddling radical theories showed “we are far from a situation of widespread radicalization.”

“Nearly all Muslims in France respect the laws of the Republic and are hurt by that (radicalization),” he said.
The killing of teacher Samuel Paty, who had shown his pupils cartoons of Mohammad in a class on free speech, at a school outside Paris sent shockwaves through France, where it was seen as an attack on the republic itself.

In the aftermath of his murder the authorities raided dozens of associations, sports groups and charities suspected of promoting extremism.
They also ordered the temporary closure of a large mosque in the Paris suburb of Pantin that had shared a vitriolic video lambasting Paty.

The government has also announced plans to step up the deportations of illegal migrants on radicalization watchlists.
Darmanin said that 66 of 231 foreigners on a watchlist had been expelled, around 50 others had been put in migrant detention centers and a further 30 had been placed under house arrest.

The minister announced the latest clampdown after receiving fierce criticism for pushing a bill that would make it harder to document police brutality.

Images of officers beating up black music producer Michel Zecler in his studio brought tens of thousands of people onto the streets last weekend against Darmanin’s push to restrict the filming of the police in the new bill.
MPs from Macron’s ruling Republic on the Move party have since announced plans to rewrite the legislation.