French President Francois Hollande has called for a single coalition including the United States and Russia to
vanquish ISIL militants in Syria, in the wake of last Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris.
In a rare joint address to the upper and lower houses of parliament, he announced more security measures and said he would table a bill to extend the state of emergency in France by three months.
“We are not in a clash of civilisations because these murderers don’t represent one,” Hollande declared in a solemn speech at the Palace of Versailles.
“But we are at war with jihadist terrorism which is a threat to the entire world.”
Urging greater unity in the fight against so-called Islamic State, which claimed responsibility for the bomb and gun attacks that left 129 people dead, Hollande said:
“We need a coming together of all those who can really fight against this terrorist army within a single, large coalition. With this in mind, I will meet Presidents Obama and Putin in the coming days to unite our strength and achieve a result that, for now, is still too far in the distance.”
Hollande pledged France would intensify its operations in Syria, where, he said Friday’s attacks were planned.
He said he had ordered air strikes on ISIL headquarters in the Syrian town of Raqqa overnight and would continue to wage war “mercilessly”, sending an aircraft carrier to triple French air power in the region.
While seeking to help Syrian refugees, he also called for effective controls of the EU’s external borders to avoid a return to national border controls and the dismantling of the European Union.
Hollande also proposed measures to speed up the expulsion of foreigners considered a threat to public order, strip binational citizens who carry out acts hostile to national security of French citizenship, and bar binationals considered a terrorism risk from entering French territory.
And he insisted that the upcoming international climate conference in Paris will be maintained.
“We will eradicate terrorism,” Hollande declared at the end of the 50-minute speech.
Members of parliament from all parties gave him a standing ovation and sang the “Marseillaise” national anthem.
It was the first time in more than six years that a president has addressed both houses of parliament convened in a so-called Congress at Versailles, a procedure reserved for constitutional revisions and major presidential speeches.