The European Union has called for an anti-terror alliance with Arab countries to boost cooperation and information-sharing in the wake of deadly attacks and arrests across Europe.
Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, said on Monday: “We need an alliance. We need to strengthen our way of cooperating together.”
Mogherini later met with Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Araby. She also attended a meeting of the EU foreign ministers who are preparing for a summit of EU leaders in February focused on terrorism.
Mogherini also said the EU would appeal a court decision ordering the removal of the Palestinian group Hamas from the EU terrorism blacklist.
Some ministers emphasised the importance of working with Muslim countries, rather than blaming them for the problem.
“They will continue to be in the front line, and we have to work closely with them to protect both those countries and the European Union countries,” Philip Hammond, the British foreign secretary, said.
Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said the police raids launched in his country last week to break up a suspected network of foreign fighters demonstrate that information-sharing is the key to success.
“We have to exchange information in Europe and outside Europe to really follow what is going on and to prevent any acts that could be launched on our territory,” he said.
The move comes a week after the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris was attacked by gunmen who killed 12 people, including the magazine’s cartoonists. Five more people were killed in attacks on police and a kosher supermarket.
Belgium, which foiled a large-scale attack in the country’s east, killing two men who were behind the plot, deployed up to 300 paratroopers over the weekend to guard public buildings.
As the ministers met on Monday, soldiers walked the perimeter of the European Council building, where internal security has also been beefed up in recent days.
Many ministers said no quick solution to the challenge of foreign fighters is likely, and that the real answer is to help end the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.
“That is what long-term will provide stability and security in this region, and to address the root causes of terrorism and radicalisation as well,” said Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstroem. (Al Jazeera)