Fighting “Islamist terrorism” is France’s top foreign policy priority, President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday, vowing to make his country a leading power in an unstable, increasingly polarised world. “Providing security for our citizens means that the fight against Islamist terrorism is our first priority,” Macron told some 200 French diplomats gathered in Paris. “There’s no place for naivety, nor for fear of Islam that confuses Islamism and Islamic,” he said, adding that guaranteeing the security of the French was the “raison d’etre” of the country’s diplomacy. Since early 2015, France has suffered a series of terror attacks that have claimed more than 230 lives, making it the country worst affected in western Europe.
Its armed forces are in action as part of the US-led international coalition fighting IS in Syria and Iraq, while French soldiers are also fighting jihadists in west Africa.
Macron, who took power in May on a promise to boost France’s international standing, said he would work with the various powerbrokers in the Middle East — including arch-rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia — to try eradicate the jihadist threat.
“Some have chosen [their camp]. It’s a mistake. The strength of our diplomacy is to speak to all sides,” he said in the first major foreign policy speech of his five-year term.The 39-year-old also insisted there was no alternative to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which saw sanctions eased on the Islamic republic in exchange for curbs to its nuclear programme. It has been fiercely opposed by US President Donald Trump who has called it a “terrible” deal.