Press Advisories

27. 2. 2009 8:11

Interior Ministers discuss Guantánamo at Justice and Home Affairs Council

On 26 February 2009 the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council was held in Brussels. The Council was chaired by Minister of the Interior of the Czech Republic Ivan Langer.

The first issue on the agenda was the second generation of the Schengen Information System (SIS II). Ivan Langer reiterated that overcoming the crisis of the SIS II project is one of the most important priorities of the Czech Presidency. “The issue of the SIS II project has become an integral part of the Czech Presidency priorities. We are very serious about this and we pay to SIS II the greatest attention. We stick to the plan which we have agreed upon at the informal meeting in Prague. And we have already achieved tangible results in all its areas. For instance we have set up a team of national experts that coordinates the implementation of all the parts of the plan. We have also achieved progress in developing a back-up plan and we have called a special seminar for countries that are not connected to the system, which is scheduled to take place in March. I am glad that today we have agreed to adopt the final decision concerning the SIS II project in June at the latest. We will decide the future development of SIS II and the date of its full launch including all the new functions. What we have achieved over the span of just a few weeks in cooperation with other Member States and the European Commission fills me with optimism”, said Czech Justice Minister Ivan Langer.

The Ministers were also informed about the developments in the construction of the Visa Information System. Minister Langer congratulated Switzerland on the success of the recent referendum on the free movement of persons. He then expressed his wish for a similar success in the evaluation of Schengen and for lifting border controls at Swiss airports on 29 March.

During a working lunch the Interior Ministers addressed the issue of closing down the detention camp at Guantánamo for the first time. The Ministers discussed the question whether their countries are considering receiving persons from Guantánamo. They also considered the necessity and scope of a common approach of the EU Member States. “Today we have discussed this topic for the first time. We have agreed that a coordinated approach is needed. We aim to share a maximum of information and to act in a transparent way. The decision to receive these persons falls within the remit of each individual Member State. As we live in a system without internal border controls, all the Member States should know whether somebody has been accepted or not”, stated Minister Langer at the press conference.

Ministers of the Interior also discussed the following issues:

proposal for a Regulation establishing a European Asylum Support Office

illegal immigration in the central and eastern Mediterranean region

the situation of Iraqi refugees

the appointment of the Europol Director

Rational Anti-Drugs Policy

At the press conference Interior Minister Ivan Langer expressed his satisfaction with the meeting and with the results achieved.

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