NEWS

EU police chiefs agree on terrorist list

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union police chiefs meeting in Brussels agreed in principle yesterday on a joint EU list of known terrorists and terror groups, a diplomatic source said. But he said justice and interior ministers from the 15-nation bloc would have to make the difficult final decisions on which organizations and individuals to put on the list. The proposal is part of a drive to improve police and judicial cooperation in the EU in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the United States of America. Other measures in preparation include a single European arrest warrant to overcome lengthy extradition procedures and a common definition of terrorism. Asked whether the list would include European groups such as the Spanish Basque separatist guerrilla organization ETA and the Greek November 17 group, the source said Yes, it will. One sensitive issue ministers would have to resolve was a demand from Turkey to include Kurdish separatist groups on the EU list of terrorist organizations. Diplomats said the EU could also face problems in deciding whether to include Lebanon’s Hezbollah guerrilla movement and the radical Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups, which some Arab states regard as engaged in legitimate resistance against Israeli occupation. After a three-day meeting, the EU police chiefs also agreed to increase the exchange of information and to set up a Bomb Data Center under the auspices of Europol, the EU’s fledgling police agency. The center would analyze technical data from bomb attacks, such as the method and materials used, to help identify the perpetrators. Among the more significant measures that hoteliers are calling for is a 25-percent reduction in employers’ contributions to employees’ social security funds in order to prevent layoffs, the suspension of the airport fee on passenger tickets for a year, a reduction in Athens airport levies and an increase to 40 percent of subsidies for investments in hotel modernization. Hoteliers also complain that foreign tour agencies are pressing them to reduce prices to make up for losses expected over the bad winter season and, in addition, are not paying their debts to hotels.