Doubts over crackdown

Greece is preparing to walk a fine line during an emergency meeting of European Union justice and interior ministers in Brussels today as, in the wake of last week’s bombings in London, the government appears to have decided not to favor the adoption of extra EU measures against terrorism. The meeting was called by British Home Secretary Charles Clarke after Thursday’s attacks, which killed at least 52 people. Britain currently holds the six-month rotating presidency of the union. Although the mood may favor a widening of the powers that authorities have to pursue terrorists and, therefore, snoop on citizens, Greece is wary of giving up individuals’ privacy rights. «I have said, and it has been proved, that Greece is a very safe country. So, the proposals will be examined through this perspective,» said Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis, «No extra measures need to be adopted in Greece.» Voulgarakis met with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras yesterday to discuss Greece’s position during today’s talks. Britain is expected to press the other 24 members to reach agreement this year on proposals requiring telephone and Internet providers to retain client activity records despite complaints from these firms about the high costs involved. A swift deal between governments would bypass the European Parliament, which is sensitive to civil rights issues and is already examining the proposals. London will also be hoping that it can at least start the process for approval of plans to strengthen protection of key infrastructure targets such as transport and energy networks. Britain also wants the bloc to approve the exchange of pre-trial information that can help build cases against criminals and terrorism suspects. «Of course we support the EU and our partners, but we have our own criteria and standards,» said Voulgarakis, clearly indicating that Greece is likely to adopt a cautious approach to any new measures put on the table with the possibility that it may request to opt out of some of the tighter regulations that other members might push for.

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