17th Jul 2018

EU buries Guantanamo bay text

Despite demands by the Netherlands and Belgium, the conclusions of a two-day EU summit in Brussels do not contain any reference to the US Guantanamo prison camp, but a press statement prepared by Vienna explicitly backs closure of the camp.

Dutch foreign minister Bernard Bot, supported by his Belgian counterpart Karel de Gucht, on Thursday (23 March) proposed adding wording about "concern" over alleged human rights abuses in Guantanamo into the final conclusion, but this was rejected by the Austrian presidency.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

  • Putting Guantanamo on the same level as Belarus would have offended Washington (Photo: Wikipedia)

Washington has faced huge criticism in the EU for the way it has treated terrorist suspects kept at the base on Cuban territory.

Diplomats told EUobserver that the Austrian presidency wanted to keep out all external relations topics from the conclusions, which this time focused on energy and the economy, with the exception of Belarus where current events made a swift reaction necessary.

"It would have looked strange to have Guantanamo mentioned in the conclusions next to Belarus," said a diplomat, hinting that this was likely to offend Washington.

The Netherlands in the end also agreed and was happy with an alternative presidency press statement that was circulated for approval among EU leaders at the end of their talks on Friday.

The rough statement will not be published in written form, as it was solely prepared for the event that journalists would raise the issue in the presidency press briefing after the summit - which did not happen.

The words on behalf of the EU - never spoken out loud by Austrian chancellor Wolfgang Schussel - state that "Guantanamo remains a source of serious concern."

"Nobody should be in a legal vacuum," Mr Schussel was ready to say. "Human rights and humanitarian standards have to be maintained while combating terrorism."

The statement explicitly backs calls for the Guantanamo camp to be shut down.

"Calls for a closure of Guantanamo Bay have been raised by the heads of government of several allies of the US. Such calls were right and timely."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel in January publicly called on Washington to close Guantanamo, while other EU politicians have echoed her words.

The EU's message to Washington also states that "the dialogue of legal advisers of the EU and US foreign ministries on discussing improved safeguards for human rights in the fight against terrorism will be continued."

Stage set for Trump-Putin finale

Trump hoped to befriend Putin at a showcase summit in Helsinki, following US president's attacks on Nato and British leaders this week.

US mauls Germany over Russia pipeline

US leader Donald Trump, backed by Poland, has begun the Nato summit with a tirade against Germany's plan to build a pipeline with Russia.


How the World Cup exposed Russian chauvinism

The suggestion that Russians themselves play a role in the condition of their state today is often dismissed as "xenophobic" or "Russophobic". But if not addressed, the evils of nationalism, chauvinism, and imperialism will continue even after Putin is gone.


Will EU suspend trade deal with Cambodia?

The EU has been slow to react to the collapse of Cambodian democracy - but if it ever chooses to use it, Brussels has substantial influence and leverage over Cambodia.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Latest News

  1. Putin asks Trump to go after British activist
  2. May caves in to Brexiteer demands, risking 'no deal'
  3. EU and China agree on words, not yet on action
  4. EU is 'foe', as Trump seeks to make friends with Putin
  5. Let's not be 'naive' with Chinese partner, says senior MEP
  6. Trump, trade, and Brexit in EU headlines This WEEK
  7. EU and China edge closer in Trump's 'America First' world
  8. How the World Cup exposed Russian chauvinism

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us