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Press Release – JHA Council takes positive steps in protection of soft targets of terrorism
25.10.2012, 20:36 (CET)
The Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council today decided on taking specific measures at an EU level, aiming at the better protection of soft targets from terrorist attacks. During its meeting in Luxembourg, the JHA Council also approved the Republic of Cyprus as a new member in the data exchange system concerning fingerprints and DNA, thus paving the way for stronger transnational cooperation among Member States for combating organised crime and terrorism.

The JHA Council is meeting today and tomorrow in Luxembourg, and is chaired by the Cypriot Ministers of Justice and Public Order, Mr. Loucas Louca and of Interior, Mrs Eleni Mavrou.   

Successful initiative of the Presidency for soft target terrorism

Taking into account the terrorist attacks against soft targets in recent years in EU countries, with most recent the deadly murderous attack in Burgass, Bulgaria,  the Cyprus Presidency set as an important priority the reinforcement of protection of soft targets from terrorism.  Towards this end, the JHA Council adopted a number of important conclusions which pertain to threat evaluation, exchange of views on best practices, conducting joint operations and creating awareness.           

“The Council’s conclusions that have been adopted today will constitute the basis for future actions at a European level, aiming at better protecting and enhancing soft targets all over the EU,” the Cypriot Interior Minister said.

“It is essential to ensure free access to the public as regards public places. Still, it is imperative, under current conditions to establish effective security measures,” added Mrs Mavrou.    

Combating transnational organised crime

Moreover, a notable development took place in the field of information exchange on fingerprints and DNA, aiming at combating organised transnational crime and terrorism.  Following the Council’s approval, as of today Cyprus belongs to the group of Member States which are able to exchange data on fingerprints and DNA.

This positive step enhances cross border cooperation and indicates the great importance that Cyprus places on this aspect of cooperation, while encouraging at the same time all other Members States not yet part of this group to actively work towards fully utilising all existing means for the improvement  of cross-border information exchange at an EU level.       

Efforts for Schengen Area enlargement

Ministers also looked at the issue of accession of Bulgaria and Romania into the Schengen Area, and particularly recent developments on the issue and its  future handling, especially since a positive decision concerning the enlargement of the Schengen Area has been unable to be taken at this moment in time.

“We want to reiterate that the Cyprus Presidency remains fully committed to continuing its efforts in every possible way to contribute to the successful enlargement of the Schengen Area with the inclusion of Bulgaria and Romania,” said Mrs Mavrou. The Cypriot Interior Minister continued by saying that “toward this end, we are in constant contact with all delegations, so that a decision can be made as soon as possible.”

Mrs Mavrou also said that the Presidency has made available to delegations a comprehensive overview which shows that significant progress has been made on a wide range of measures Bulgaria and Romania have undertaken in their countries in view of the planned enlargement of the Schengen area.

Presidency Spokesperson in Brussels
Nikos Christodoulides

Coreper II

Email: nchristodoulides@mfa.gov.cy
Telephone: +32 27395152
Mobile: +32 473400441
EU Affairs Counsellor
Elena Panayiotou

Ministry of Justice & Public Order
JHA Council & CATS Committee Coordinator
Email: epanayiotou@mjpo.gov.cy
Telephone: +357 22805982
Communications Officer
Lefki Solomontos

Ministry of Justice & Public Order

Email: lsolomontos@mjpo.gov.cy
Telephone: +357 22805996

Watch the press conference here

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