Following Monday's meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Brussels, the bloc's foreign policy coordinator, Federica Mogherini (pictured above, right), said the EU planned to move quickly to implement measures to increase cooperation with countries in the Arab world, as well as Turkey.
"We are looking at specific projects to launch in the coming weeks with some specific countries to increase the level of cooperation on counter-terrorism, and I would name Turkey, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria and the Gulf countries," Mogherini told a press conference.
Following a meeting with visiting Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi (above, left), Mogherini said that among other things, the EU planned to send "security attachés" to the blocs delegations in countries in the Muslim world to work to develop anti-terror strategies.
For his part, Arabi expressed a willingness to cooperate to combat terrorism, although he did say there may be reservations from some governments, in part due to their frustration over EU criticism of the state of human rights in their countries.
Sources of funding targeted
Another major thrust of the new EU initiative is to take steps to cut off the terrorist networks' sources of funding. She said the EU would soon meet with experts on this aspect of counter-terrorism from several countries, including the United States, Australia, Canada and Switzerland.
"This is going to happen in Brussels in the coming days," said Mogherini, who appeared satisfied with the outcome of Monday's discussions.
"Probably for the first time, there was a real deep awareness of the need to work together," she said.
The ministers were meeting just days after terrorist attacks on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in Paris killed 17 people. Just last week, Belgian police launched a series of raids that they said prevented a major terrorist attack there. Both countries now have soldiers deployed on the streets in order to enhance security.
No easing of sanctions on Russia
The other major item on the ministers' agenda was the crisis in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russia separatists and government forces fought pitched battles around Donetsk airport on Monday. The EU has imposed two rounds of economic sanctions on Russia since it annexed Ukraine's Crimean peninsula last March. The second round was over Western allegations that Russia is actively supporting the rebels and the EU foreign ministers were in no mood to relax the measures.
"In light of the current events in eastern Ukraine, no one had the idea of loosening the sanctions," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters following the talks.
Mogherini said the bloc's relations with Russia could only improve when the ceasefire accords for eastern Ukraine agreed in Minsk back in September were implemented.
"The latest developments on the ground are definitely not encouraging - rather the contrary," she added.
pfd/bw (AP, dpa, Reuters, AFP)