Cablegate: U.S.-Eu Coter Consultations On Counterterrorism

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




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Summary: Revising the COTER Guidelines

1. The U.S. and EU COTER held their quarterly
counterterrorism coordination meeting on December 3. The
U.S. was represented by S/CT,s Senior Advisor for
Multilateral Affairs, Chris Ensley, DOJ senior counsel Mark
Richards, Econoff Kim Gagne and NAS Frank Kerber. The EU
COTER delegation was chaired by Giampaolo Cantini of the
Italian presidency and included delegates from the incoming
Irish presidency, the European Commission, and the European
Council. The December 3 meeting was the first U.S.-EU COTER
exchange to be held under revised guidelines that focus work
on identifying areas of possible cooperative diplomacy
including encouraging countries to implement their
international obligations under UNSCR 1373 and the 12
international counterterrorism conventions. The U.S. and EU
established these guidelines after the September U.S.-EU
COTER exchange in an effort to make the dialogue more action
oriented and agreed to discuss two regions ) North Africa
and the western Balkans ) at this meeting. End Summary.

Terrorism Trends Overview

2. Italy opened the session by presenting an overview of
trends in global terrorism with special focus on al-Qaida and
associated networks. Cantini pointed to recent attacks as an
indication of the terrorist network,s apparent shift to
softer targets and expressed concern over the movement of
al-Qaida-related terrorists to Iraq to undercut coalition
activities there. The U.S. concurred with the thrust of
Italy,s assessment.

Implementing UNSCR 1373 in the Western Balkans:
A U.S. Assessment
--------------------------------------------- --

3. Moving to the core of the revised dialogue, the U.S.
delegation presented a detailed picture of implementation of
UNSCR 1373 and the 12 international counterterrorism
conventions in the western Balkans (i.e., Albania, Bosnia,
Croatia, FYROM, and Serbia-Montenegro and Kosovo) based on
the much appreciated assessments from U.S. embassies in the
region. Overall, the U.S. delegation said that the Balkans
nations are strong supporters of the war against terrorism,
but lack the institutions, training, and resources necessary
to fight and prevent terrorism as effectively as possible.
The EU delegation agreed and pointed out that U.S. and EU
assistance programs have room for both more assistance and
better coordination of our mutual assistance activities. In
discussions of specific areas for cooperative diplomacy in
the Balkans, the U.S. and EU agreed to consider two specific

--A coordinated approach to Serbia and Montenegro encouraging
it to adopt the four international counterterrorism
conventions it has not so far, as well as a request that the
republican governments ensure that republican laws and
regulations harmonize with the international commitments
adopted under the international conventions.

--A similar coordinated approach to FYROM urging it to speed
up the ongoing (but very slow) adoption process for
un-ratified international conventions, especially those
related to terrorist financing and terrorist bombings.

If the EU and the U.S. agree to these recommendations, the
Department and the EU presidency will coordinate the details
of the approaches.

Implementing UNSCR 1373 in North Africa: An EU Assessment
--------------------------------------------- ------------

4. The EU followed up on the U.S. presentation by making its
own on the Northern African nations of Algeria, Morocco, and
Tunisia. Italian and Irish delegates agreed that all three
countries fully recognize the threat that terrorism
represents to them and aggressively pursue counterterrorism
measures internally. Nonetheless, they suffer from capacity
shortfalls similar to those faced by the Balkan nations. The
Italian presidency also expressed concern that the three
sometimes confront terrorism in a heavy-handed manner,
agitating population bases that terrorists are already
seeking to exploit. The U.S. delegation shared concern over
the need for all governments to fight terrorism with full
respect for the rule of law and human rights. The United
States was working generally with these three countries to
bolster democracy and good governance, and incorporated human
rights components into its counterterrorism training for law
enforcement services.

5. The European Commission then raised one area in which it
might seek U.S. diplomatic assistance. The EU has been
trying to encourage judicial reform in Tunisia and has
offered to provide relevant assistance. Tunis, per the
European Commission delegate, has rebuffed EU offers by
trying to narrow down the possible reforms to be considered.
Although the EU is considering whether to drop its efforts
(rather than proceed with a &flawed8 program), if it
decides to make another go at Tunis, it may ask for the U.S.
diplomatic assistance in persuading the GOT to accept the
idea of broader judicial reform.

Anticipatory Crime Laws, Terrorist Finance,
and Enhanced intra-EU Coordination

6. After a brief review of wider counterterrorism assistance
efforts, including the November 17 Counterterrorism Action
Group (CTAG) meeting in Paris, both sides raised issues of
mutual interest. The U.S. DOJ representative gave an
overview of an analysis of G-8 member states, anticipatory
crime laws (e.g., laws that inter alia outlaw material
support for terrorist groups or payment to individuals to
conduct terrorist operations) that identified a key gap in
G-8 members, ability to cooperate when one country,s
national security information would be useful to another,s
ability to prosecute potential terrorists. He then asked if
the EU would consider conducting a similar survey of its
member states. The EU side took the idea on board.

7. The U.S. side also encouraged the EU to be more assertive
in its efforts to block the assets of terrorists and their
supporters. We applauded the EU,s designation of Hamas but
asked it to strongly consider designating the Hamas charities
and individuals that the U.S. has already designated.
Stopping the flow of money to Hamas and other Palestinian
terrorist groups will be a crucial part of U.S. and EU
efforts to get peace efforts between Israel and the
Palestinian Authority moving forward. Similarly, as the EU
has already designated the Kurdistan Workers, Party (PKK) as
a terrorist group, it should move quickly to designate the
same organization now operating under a different name. The
PKK has not changed its views on the use of terrorism and
should not &get off the hook8 by simply changing its name.

8. Finally, upon hearing that the EU COTER had conducted a
joint assessment of North African terrorist networks with the
EU,s Justice and Home Affairs, Terrorism Working Group
(which addresses internal EU police cooperation against
terrorists in the EU), the S/CT representative asked whether
there were plans for the various EU organizations involved in
counterterrorism activities to cooperate more closely.
Although the COTER delegation agreed that more expansive
intra-EU cooperation would be helpful, organizational issues
made moving in that direction a very slow process. The U.S.
delegation acknowledged the unique characteristics of the EU
but urged COTER to continue with the effort. In the long
run, EU security would benefit from better coordination of
the many elements involved in fighting terrorism just as the
United States is benefiting from cooperation between the
State Department and the Departments of Justice, Homeland
Security, and Treasury. (Comment: S/CT,s Senior Advisor, who
was invited to participate as an observer at the JHA,s
Terrorist Working Group meeting on December 2, made a similar
pitch for greater intra-EU counterterrorism cooperation
there, as well. End Comment.)

Toward Joint or Parallel Diplomatic Action

9. In closing, the U.S. and EU agreed that the new
guidelines for the dialogue were effective in focusing the
discussions on concrete counterterrorism issues and provided
an avenue for identifying areas for joint or parallel
diplomatic activity to encourage full implementation of
international counterterrorism requirements. The incoming
Irish presidency asked to continue operating under these
guidelines and suggested that we focus on the Gulf states
(GCC members plus Yemen) at the next meeting. Ireland also
proposed holding the next meeting on February 13. The U.S.
side agreed to get back to the Irish quickly on both


10. Although the U.S.-EU COTER dialogue will remain somewhat
limited in its scope of action by EU internal structures, the
new guidelines that focus work on areas of agreed-upon
international counterterrorism standards affords some room to
produce useful outcomes on the diplomatic front. USEU and
the Department would welcome comments from posts discussed in
the sections on the Balkans and North Africa, especially on
the cooperative diplomatic proposals mentioned in paras 4-5.
The U.S. should continue to encourage the EU to break down
bureaucratic walls barring effective EU counterterrorism
coordination. Not only would more intra-EU cooperation on
counterterrorism measures improve its counterterrorism
abilities, it could present the United States with a more
effective overall counterterrorism interlocutor and partner.


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