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EU Interior Ministers Urge Greater Cooperation Against Terrorism - 2004-04-16


Europe's interior ministers said Friday greater cooperation in the fight against international terrorism is necessary, especially after enlargement of the European Union next month.

The deputy prime minister of Poland, Jozef Oleksy said Europe has not paid enough attention to the threat of terrorism. "The important thing is for us to wake up, to wake up to a feeling of responsibility for the protection from terrorism," he said. "Europe, in the past, didn't really feel concerned by terrorism, but this is different now."

He represented Poland at an anti-terrorism summit that brought together ministers and top government officials from a dozen European countries, including France, Italy, Germany, Britain, Spain, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

Mr. Oleksy said the ministers have agreed to share data on suspect terrorists and strengthen the new external borders of Europe after May 1, when the European Union admits 10 new member countries (Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia).

The Italian interior minister, Giuseppe Pisanu, told reporters that pooling national resources is essential in combating international terrorism. "We all do realize that the threat of terrorism concerns all European countries, and we know that this threat is very imminent, and it can be triggered by autonomous decisions of groupings of so-called sleeping, or dormant cells, which already operate on European territory," he said.

Responding to an apparent truce offer to European countries allegedly by al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, Mr. Pisanu said Western democracies will never negotiate with terrorists. He said the purported offer was a cynical ploy to divide the west.

The ministers also agreed that international police institutions, such as Europol, should be strengthened to give them greater authority to combat illegal immigration.

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