The Kiwi Prime Minister met David Cameron at his country house retreat in Buckinghamshire, where terrorism and politics were discussed – including the recent Paris terror attacks on free speech and the upcoming United Kingdom general election being held in May.
Key and Cameron also discussed New Zealand’s potential contribution to the fight against ISIS in Iraq – however Key is still reluctant to commit to a definite plan of action.
“If we are going to make the decision to do it, the decision has to be made in the next month to six weeks but it is not something we will be making at the first cabinet [Tuesday next week] or anything like that,” Key said.
Key and his British counterpart mulled over a possible location and size of deployment whilst weighing up the inevitable risks New Zealand would encounter in such a military commitment. On these grounds, Key said mid February is a “more realistic” timetable for a decision.
Charlie Hebdo Massacre
With the bloody murder of 12 French citizens – who were murdered by Islamic Fascists for the offence of exercising their right to free speech – the terror threat in Europe has been heightened dramatically.
Key could not avoid commenting on the incident that enraged France to historic protest: “In a lot of ways it is terrifying what took place in Paris but it is something we always knew was potentially possible…In the end there are a small group of very disaffected people who are basically fanatical, “Key stated.
The PM acknowledged that the terror threat is greater in other countries, but that New Zealand would be complacent to believe it has guaranteed immunity from such an attack. He pointed to the Cricket World Cup as an event which, because of its international audience, would encompass a much higher risk of terrorism.
Although, the litter of recent global terror attacks in Paris, Sydney and Ottawa (not to mention the atrocities committed within the Islamic State) suggest that it doesn’t take an international event or audience to inspire murderous attacks from Islamic fascists.
Indeed, our Prime Minister says the terror threat is very real and ongoing, with the growing ability of terrorists to propagandise malcontent people.
“There’s no real sign things are going to improve any time soon. I think they’ve been very effective at trying to lock into that chord of people who just want to hear that message”
European Politics and Economics
John Key is also due to meet with British Opposition leader Ed Miliband, the governor of the Bank of England and several business leaders where he will give talks on international economic and security issues, including what role New Zealand will undertake on the UN Security Council.
Later in the week Mr Key will head to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum for the first time. Key said it would be a good opportunity to get a sense of the expectations in Europe for the year, especially considering the soon to be elections in the UK and Greece.
“There’s generally been economic revival in the United States and Asia remains strong, but Europe’s been the one place that has been struggling, “he said.
Indeed, the latest Eurozone growth rate stood at 0.2% – where Germany and France, the Eurozone’s two largest economies, narrowly avoided recession. Italy, the currency bloc’s number three economy, slid back into its third recession since the financial crisis struck.
These measly growth figures barely make a dent in unemployment, which remains unacceptably low ever since the crisis. Also adding to Europe’s woes is the threat of falling inflation rates, which is now threatening the 18 nation bloc with the trials and tribulations of deflation.
Despite Europe’s economic problems, Key still sees potential in the continent. “We still have a lot of interest in Europe – part of what were pushing is a Free Trade Agreement”
However, positive trade outcomes with Europe would largely depend on higher growth rates – which have been suffocated by the lack of structural reform in many European economies.
Europe’s current woes don’t just include economic stagnation and increasing terrorist activity. They are also dealing with: the emergence of far-right populist political parties like France’s Front National, a real question mark over NATO’s ability to militarily defend its members in the face of continued Russian aggression and the long-term viability of the European welfare model considering the challenging demographic trends in many European countries.
Despite these hazy times, though, New Zealand still holds Europe as a place of opportunity and companionship.
Image: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images