Europe wants Gitmo closed, will not commit to accept detainees

As many countries in Europe demanded the United States close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, they refused efforts by the Bush administration to provide asylum or refugee status to prisoners who were ready for release.

In Berlin yesterday, 27 members of the European Union made a weak attempt to support the new administration by offering assistance in closing the facility, but still would not commit to join together and accept inmates into the Union. What does this mean? Are they going to provide landing rights so we can refuel jets as we take the prisoners somewhere else?

Note there were prisoners ready for release by the Bush administration, but nobody would take them. Thanks a lot for the support guys, next time keep your mouths shut.

Again, no commitment from Europe, since they have been provided time to respond.

… the EU is expected to play for time, arguing that, since it will take at least a year to close the camp, European countries have several months to produce a detailed response.

“The reality is that we are divided,” said one of those close to the negotiations, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. “There are a bunch of countries that want to offer something to the US, and there are countries that are careful and are not ready to jump.”

The divisions show how difficult it will be for the Europeans to reach a united stance, said Karsten Voigt, the coordinator for German-American cooperation in the Foreign Ministry in Berlin.

“We have been criticizing the US all along and demanding that Guantanamo be closed,” Voigt said. “Now that the new administration wants to do it, we either simply say it is a US problem and Washington must deal with it, or we help to solve the issue.”

Portugal has stepped up and stated that they will immediately take prisoners who have been cleared for release and are not welcome in their own home countries, but Austria has said no way.

Privately, many are saying that it’s America’s problem and we need to deal with it on our own. Well if it’s our problem why did you demand for months for us to close the facility?

Here’s the problem European Union countries face; they have no internal borders. Unless they have some sort of special rule for released detainees and hold them in some sort of prison atmosphere, released terrorists will be able to freely roam between 22 countries.

There are no longer any frontier controls at the borders between 22 EU countries. This is thanks to the Schengen agreement which is part of EU law. The Schengen rules remove all internal border controls but put in place effective controls at the external borders of the EU and introduce a common visa policy. The full Schengen members are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia,Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden (but not Ireland and the United Kingdom) plus Iceland and Norway (which are not EU members).

Cyprus which joined the EU in 2004 and Bulgaria and Romania which joined in 2007 do not yet fully participate in Schengen. You will therefore need a valid passport or ID card to travel to those countries and to Ireland and the United Kingdom.

If Portugal will take a few, will they be allowed to roam into Austria who does not want any of them?

My guess is that you’re not going to see any agreement from EU diplomats within one year. Not going to happen.

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Steve McGough

Steve's a part-time conservative blogger. Steve grew up in Connecticut and has lived in Washington, D.C. and the Bahamas. He resides in Connecticut, where he’s comfortable six months of the year.

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