EU backs redesign of public spaces to curb terror attacks

European Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King gives a press conference at the EU Commission in Brussels, on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 18 October 2017
0

EU backs redesign of public spaces to curb terror attacks

BRUSSELS: The EU unveiled on Wednesday plans to help redesign European public spaces to make it harder to carry out low-tech terror attacks like those in Barcelona and Nice.
The European Commission pledged more than €100 million ($117 million) to help towns and cities, many of them historic tourist magnets, adapt their public spaces after a two-year wave of attacks that have killed hundreds of people in crowded areas.
"We can't stop all attacks," EU Security Commissioner Julian King told a press conference. "But we can make it harder and harder for the terrorists and others who wish us ill to carry out the attacks."
The steps include improving security barriers in crowded places, guidance on design to protect public spaces, and advice on how to protect sports and cultural events.
"We believe we can make public spaces less vulnerable without completely changing their nature as fundamentally open spaces where we gather to live our lives," King said.
He referred to a recent wave of "low-tech terrorism" where extremists have used vehicles to kill and maim civilians, most recently in August in the Spanish port of Barcelona and a nearby resort, in which 16 people were killed
A truck attack on the Bastille Day celebrations in the French city of Nice in 2016 killed 86 people, and there have been similar vehicle attacks in London, Stockholm and Berlin.
In addition to vehicles, recent attacks have sometimes involved knives, in contrast to the suicide bombs and automatic weapons used in previous attacks.
The plans unveiled by the European Commission, the executive arm of the 28-nation bloc, also calls for restricting access to substances used to make home-made bombs such as those used in the 2016 Brussels airport and metro attacks.
The commission also proposed a "new toolbox" of techniques and training to tackle the problem of encrypted messages used by extremists to plot attacks.
It also urged member states to support opening negotiations with Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey on the transfer of personal data between Europol and these countries to prevent and combat terrorism and serious crimes.
It also recommended that Brussels open talks on a revised deal with Canada to share air passenger data that was ruled illegal by a top court in July.
The commission also proposed a plan step up preparedness against the "low" risk of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks, including creating a security network on the issue.


Withdrawal from nuclear arms deal ‘dangerous step’ for US: Moscow

Updated 21 October 2018
0

Withdrawal from nuclear arms deal ‘dangerous step’ for US: Moscow

  • US National Security Adviser John Bolton is set to arrive in Moscow on Sunday
  • Trump announced US plans to leave the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, known as the INF, signed in 1987

MOSCOW: Withdrawing from a Cold War-era nuclear weapons treaty with Russia as President Donald Trump has announced he plans to do is a dangerous step, Russia’s deputy foreign minister warned on Sunday.
“This would be a very dangerous step that, I’m sure, not only will not be comprehended by the international community but will provoke serious condemnation,” deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told TASS state news agency.
The treaty is “significant for international security and security in the sphere of nuclear arms, for the maintenance of strategic stability,” he stressed.
Russia condemned what he called attempts by the US to gain concessions “through a method of blackmail,” he added.
If the US continues to act “clumsily and crudely” and unilaterally back out of international agreements “then we will have no choice but to undertake retaliatory measures including involving military technology,” Ryabkov told RIA Novosti news agency.
“But we would not want to get to this stage,” he added.
On Saturday, Trump announced US plans to leave the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, known as the INF, signed in 1987 by the then US president Ronald Reagan.
“We’re the ones who have stayed in the agreement and we’ve honored the agreement, but Russia has not unfortunately honored the agreement, so we’re going to terminate the agreement and we’re going to pull out,” said Trump.
But Ryabkov on Sunday denied Trump’s accusations, throwing the accusation back at Washington.
“We don’t just not violate (the treaty), we observe it in the strictest way,” he insisted.
“And we have shown patience while pointing out over the course of many years the flagrant violations of this treaty by the US itself.”
US National Security Adviser John Bolton is set to arrive in Moscow on Sunday.
“We hope that we will hear from him during meetings, tomorrow and the day after, more substantively and clearly what the American side intends to undertake,” said Ryabkov.
Earlier a foreign ministry source told Russian news agencies that the US move was connected to its “dream of a unipolar world,” an argument that Ryabkov also advanced.
“Apparently the existence of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty creates problems for establishing a line of total US domination and supremacy in the military sphere,” he said.