Yesterday, June 15, the United States and the European Union issued a joint statement on Guantanamo and “future counterterrorism cooperation.” Most media are focusing on the implications for placing Guantanamo detainees. It is reported that EU member states have agreed to receive fifty current detainees.
The Luxembourg declaration is also a mile marker for negotiations that began even before the inauguration to ensure closer cooperation between Europe and the United States on a whole range of CT issues.
The Guardian reports, European diplomats are “saying that the aim was also to come up with a new transatlantic strategy on counter-terrorism, as well as on a broader joint agenda for fighting international organised crime, intelligence sharing, international travel security and data protection. The ambitious aims are bedevilled by legal wrangles and mismatches between US and European legal systems, with Europeans, for example, enjoying higher standards of privacy protection.”
Negotiations are continuing on a comprehensive CT agreement between the US and EU. Some reports suggest progress is sufficient that it may be ready by the end of the year.
Yesterday’s agreement set-out principles on which the fuller agreement is expected to be based. “Efforts to combat terrorism should be conducted in a manner that comports with the rule of law, respects our common values, and complies with our respective obligations under international law, in particular international human rights law, refugee law, and humanitarian law. We consider that efforts to combat terrorism conducted in this manner make us stronger and more secure.”
The potential for greater cooperation between the US and EU is underlined by the first-ever EU-Pakistan summit which will begin tomorrow in Brussels. Taliban and al-Qaeda present a shared threat to the US, EU, and Pakistan. US military operations on the Afpak border (and incursions across the border) make a crucial contribution to containing — and eventually eliminating — this node of terrorist planning, training, and operations.
The same US operations complicate bilateral relations with Pakistan in a way that limits Washington’s ability to contribute to shaping a post-Taliban/after-al Qaeda future. Greater involvement by the EU in supporting democratic and social resilience in Pakistan can pick up where the US cannot go.
In an interview with the Financial Times, “Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the (Pakistani) foreign minister… said Pakistan would need up to $2.5bn (€1.8bn, £1.5bn) in emergency relief and for long-term reconstruction of the Swat valley and the surrounding region, once the fighting between government troops and militants, now in its final stage, had ended. That figure compares to the $1bn in aid initially estimated by government officials. The warning comes as Pakistan widens its military offensive to other areas suspected of providing a haven to the Taliban, such as the Waziristan tribal region along the border with Afghanistan.”
The US and EU can benefit from collaboration in many other areas — intelligence sharing, border controls, planning, training, joint exercises, and more — but especially as Pakistan’s military begins operations in South Waziristan, the potential in terms of this trilateral relationship is especially important.