Afghanistan: Taliban take over gym at presidential palace
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The European Union figurehead said France should have a robust plan to “anticipate and protect itself from a wave of migrants” from Afghanistan. President Emmanuel Macron stressed the importance of Europe helping most of those from Afghanistan threatened by the chaotic takeover of the country. In a televised address, he said “dealing with those fleeing the Taliban would need an organised and fair international effort”.
But Mr Macron warned: “Europe alone cannot assume the consequences of the current situation.”
Now the French leader has come under ferocious attack from former Greek Finance Minister and sharp EU critic Yanis Varoufakis.
He raged on Twitter: “Despicable Macron, copies Greek Government’s declaration that Afghan refugees running from the islamofascist Taliban are NOT welcome in fortress Europe.
“The West’s moral bankruptcy in Technicolor: Invade, mess up, escape, leave a human tragedy behind, wash hands!”
EU leaders have been holding emergency talks over the chaotic situation in Afghanistan, with Greece also requesting the issue is addressed at a meeting of EU home affairs ministers on Wednesday.
Greek migration minister Notis Mitarachi warned his country does not want to become the entry point for Afghan’s attempting to flee the Taliban and the country, insisting a “common European solution” should be the way forward.
He told state broadcaster ERT: “We are clearly saying that we will not and cannot be the gateway of Europe for the refugees and migrants who could try to come to the European Union.
“We cannot have millions of people leaving Afghanistan and coming to the European Union, and certainly not through Greece.”
Mr Macron’s statement came hours after Afghans were filmed desperately trying to flee the country by clinging to the wheel of a large plane but falling to the ground.
The President’s comments led to accusations he was pandering to far-right voters ahead of the crunch presidential elections in May 2022, in which he is expected to seek a second term in office.
National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden tweeted: “This can’t possibly be right, can it? Is it a mistranslation?
“This sounds an awful lot like Macron’s priority when the Taliban are in the midst of door-to-door reprisals is covering his flank for some election, not saving lives.”
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Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, a former Government spokesperson and minister under Mr Macron’s predecessor François Hollande, wrote on the social media platform: “But why these words?!
“Is this what politics has become, the tactical and icy at the same time, again and again, no matter what the distressing circumstances?”
During his address to the nation, Mr Macron insisted it was France’s “duty and our dignity” to protect those who had served its forces and missions in Afghanistan.
The EU powerhouse had been militarily engaged in Afghanistan for three years between 2001 and 2004.
Mr Macron added France is also working closely with their US allies to “many Afghans: human rights defenders; artists; journalists; activists”.
He added: “We will help them because it is France’s honour to stand by those who share our values as much as we can.”
The French President said his country was ready for the “turning point” as the Taliban began to dominate territory in Afghanistan after US President Joe Biden withdrew American troops from the country.
Mr Macron insisted France is ready “to respond to the humanitarian catastrophe”.
He said: “For several years, we have carried out operations to welcome in France Afghan civilian personnel who have worked for the French army, as well as their families.
“It is our duty and our dignity to protect those who help us: interpreters, drivers, cooks and many others.
“Nearly 800 people are already on French soil.
“Several dozen people are still on site who have helped the French army and for whom we remain fully mobilised.”
The French President added his country would “always be on the side of those who fight for freedom, for women’s rights, who carry the same message in the world as we do; the choice of reason.”
Mr Macron confirmed he has spoken with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, with the two leaders preparing to announce plans to prevent terrorist groups seeking “to profit from destabilisation” and to make Afghanistan “the sanctuary for terrorism that it once was”.
He has also spoken to the German Chancellor, as well as a number of other leaders throughout the bloc, on how best to control the expected flow of refugees.
The French President said: “France will continue to be at the forefront of diplomatic efforts.
“To continue the fight against Islamist terrorism under the aegis of the UN security council.”
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