EU diplomats sceptical on CIA detention camp reports
03.11.05 @ 17:40
BRUSSELS - EU diplomats do not believe the CIA has secret al Qaeda detention camps in Poland or Romania, but the European Commission will quiz member states informally on the subject.
The Washington Post and NGO Human Rights Watch broke the story on Wednesday (2 November), indicating that northeast Poland and the Romanian Black Sea coast are likely sites.
Warsaw and Bucharest have categorically denied the claims however, with policy advisors to EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solana accepting the rebuttals at face value.
"They wouldn't have said it in that tone if there was a shred of truth in it. Having this level of denial means it didn't happen", the Institute for Security Studies' eastern Europe expert Marcin Zaborowski told EUobserver.
"If they are lying, they have put themselves in very deep trouble", he added.
The Paris-based institute advises Mr Solana's cabinet on security policy and is funded by member states.
The Polish president's spokesman Waldemar Dubaniowski told news agency PAP on Thursday: "There have never been special prisons for terrorists in Poland and there never will be".
Romanian prime minister Calin Tariceanu said to Reuters on Wednesday night that "There are no CIA bases in Romania".
Commission asks questions
Meanwhile, the commission plans to seek its own confirmation of events.
Brussels' justice and home affairs spokesman Friso Roscam Abbing said commission director generals are empowered to quiz member states' senior politicians on the subject, but the questions would amount to "research" rather than an investigation.
"I don't think we have such things in eastern Europe, at least not as far as I know", he said.
EU human rights machine laid bare
As far as EU candidate member states like Romania are concerned, the commission's competency in human rights is limited to monitoring compliance with the so-called Copenhagen criteria.
These enlargement criteria state that EU candidates must guarantee democracy, the rule of law and human rights, among other economic conditions.
"The Copenhagen criteria are rather clear. I don't think the existence of secret prisons would be compatible with that", Mr Roscam Abbing remarked.
Beyond this, current member states can be punished for human rights violations by having their EU voting rights suspended under article 7 of the Treaty.
But the process requires one third of the other 24 member states to agree that there is "a persistent breach" of basic EU values.
"I don't think we are quite there yet", Mr Roscam Abbing quipped.