OPINION

Enhancing security

The outcome of Spain’s general elections, which took place under the shadow of last week’s terrorist attacks, was both stunning and meaningful. Spanish voters punished outgoing Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, sweeping his conservative government out of power. People condemned his attempt to exploit the tragedy and to deceive the public over the true perpetrators of the deadly rail blasts. Despite contrary assessments by the Spanish and other European intelligence services who said that the bombings had not been planned by ETA, Aznar rushed to blame the armed Basque separatist group, fearing that suspicion of Islamic terrorists would catapult the issue of Spain’s participation in the Iraq war onto center stage and thereby harm the Popular Party’s chances of re-election. In the end, Aznar could not escape defeat. The Spaniards voted for the Socialist party, which had promised to bring troops home from Iraq. However, the issue is not confined to Spanish borders. Regardless of the causes, terrorists also hit Europe in a large-scale, blind attack that left dead at least 200 innocent people. The disaster inevitably raises the issue of European cooperation on fighting terrorism through a systematic exchange of information, coordinated action and policies in order to avert terrorist acts. Through their close cooperation on security issues, European governments are aware that police and repressive measures must be combined with policies that promote the smooth integration of over 10 million Muslims who now reside in Europe and which will not create new sources of tension between Muslims and the West. Such a twin-track approach was reflected in remarks made by Romano Prodi yesterday. In an interview with the Italian La Stampa newspaper, the president of the European Commission said that the European Union is considering the addition of an anti-terrorism commissioner. «These terrible days have shown us that the American recipe wasn’t right. On Saturday, it will be a year since the start of the war in Iraq and the terrorist threat is today infinitely more powerful than before,» Prodi added. In order to deal with the terrorist threat that has just hit the continent, the EU needs to promote cooperation among member states. It must show the necessary prudence and determination in enhancing security measures.