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Sweden backs stronger EU terror cooperation

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Sweden backs stronger EU terror cooperation
Security has been stepped up in Brussels. Photo: TT
15:16 CET+01:00
Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström is among the EU foreign ministers meeting for talks in Brussels to discuss tactics for dealing with terrorists in the wake of recent attacks in France and Belgium.
Speaking about the challenges of dealing with EU nationals who choose to travel to the Middle East to fight alongside extremists, Sweden's Foreign Minister argued that ending conflicts in Iraq and Syria was the key solution, as she spoke to international media ahead of the summit.
 
“That is what long-term will provide stability and security in this region and...address the root causes of terrorism and radicalization as well,” said Margot Wallström.
 
Her comments came as the European Union's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini called for more cooperation and information sharing between different countries in the 28 member bloc and amid a heavier security presence than usual for this kind of meeting of EU Ministers.
 
Sweden has already spoken in favour of better coordination between security agencies following the shootings in Paris earlier this month.
 
On Tuesday, Home Affairs Minister Anders Ygeman told The Local: "We are working hard to exchange information, but there are still some obstacles. There is a discussion about trust and knowing if you can really rely on security services from other countries to use information in an appropriate manner."
 
"It is important that we now stand up and demonstrate our humanity and unity against violence, hatred and extremism. We will continue to seek effective and common tools to fight international terrorism, without compromising the fundamental democratic values we want to defend," said Wallström in a separate statement to The Local last week.
 
 
Speaking from Brussels on Monday, Belgium's foreign minister, Didier Reynders also championed better information-sharing, following police raids in his country as part of efforts to break up a suspected terror network.
 
He said: “We have to exchange information in Europe and outside Europe to really follow what is going on and to prevent any acts that could be launched on our territory."
 
The Paris attacks have already seen officials around Europe discussing changes to their respective national anti-terror laws.
 
France's Prime Minister Manuel Valls has said that France is now engaged in a "war on terrorism", announcing plans to ramp up intelligence capabilities, aimed at amending the faults that lead to the country's "clear failings" over the Paris terror attacks.
 
Spain wants to see the Schengen treaty modified to allow border controls to be restored to limit the movements of Islamic fighters returning to Europe from the Middle East. On Tuesday, the government met to tighten anti-terror laws.
 
Denmark's Justice Minister has called for treason charges for anyone travelling abroad to fight for the Islamic State.
 
The summit in Brussels also revealed that the EU is appealing against a ruling that Hamas should be removed from a list of terror groups.
 
"(The EU) Council has decided to appeal the judgement regarding Hamas remaining on the EU terrorist list," Press Officer for the EU's Foreign Affairs Council Susanne Kiefer wrote in a tweet.
 
An EU court decided last month that Hamas should be removed from the terrorist list, saying the decision to include it was not based on detailed analysis of the group and was too reliant on media reports about its actions.
 
"The council has now decided to challenge some of the findings of the court regarding the procedural grounds to list terrorist organizations under EU autonomous measures to combat terrorism," said a statement later released by the European Union's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
 
Foreign Ministers are additionally using their talks to discuss relations with Russia as the crisis in Ukraine continues.
 
Ahead of the meeting, Margot Wallström told Swedish broadcaster SVT that it was important to have "both short-term and long-term perspective" on the issue, suggesting that if sanctions against Russia are lifted in the spring, as some EU ministers are calling for, it would have to come while still considering "what we can do long term to push Russia into a democratic direction."
 
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