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Swadesh M. Rana: Guantánamo's Detainees — Diplomatic Quagmire or Security Risk?

America's European partners in its war on terror are not committing on when or whether to take in any detainees from Guantánamo. "There was nobody very hot about this, that's perfectly true," said Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg on January 26, after a meeting of the European Union. His nation holds the rotating presidency of the 27 member EU which includes 21 of the 26 members of NATO. Austria is against taking any released prisoners. The parliament of Finland is split on the issue. Denmark would need to change its asylum laws to accept any detainees. Sweden sees no political or national security benefit in admitting them. Poland has no experience in dealing with this kind of prisoners. Italy and Spain would consider a U.S. request only if endorsed by the EU. European opposition to this plan is vociferous. "I do not understand why we give the impression that Germany needs to accept prisoners. Guantánamo was established by the U.S. We did not run it. We did not use it," says Wolfgang Bosbach, deputy leader of the Christian Democrats. "Don't forget these inmates are not kittens-it's a risk for us to bring them into Europe." says the Dutch Foreign Minister, Maxime Verhagen. London has already made a "significant contribution," said U.K. Foreign Secretary David Miliband. England has already accepted nine of its citizens and six of its residents formerly imprisoned at Guantánamo. France has found little support for its plan to lead an EU fact-finding mission to Guantánamo to ascertain the background of the current detainees and assess the security risks in accepting at least 60 persons who, while they face no charges in the United States, are likely to be tortured or persecuted if returned to the countries of their origin.

Charlotte Pudlowski: Sarkozy, Pop Culture's New Icon

While Barack Obama may be the talk of the town, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is well on his way to becoming a new icon of American pop culture. Down in the polls in France, at least he entertains America. If proof is needed, consider the wildly popular American TV show Gossip Girl. In a recent episode, Nicolas Sarkozy's amorousness merits a mention. "Apparently Sarkozy would be a bad kisser," says the heroine, Serena, confiding to her boyfriend. And she knows something about it: the French president is allegedly her mother’s former lover. In fact, Sarkozy has almost become a plot line. It is the second time this love affair has been evoked. A few episodes ago, a character recalled, "Don't forget that weekend with Sarkozy, when he made us go to EuroDisney!" Bursts of laughter followed. What kind of a president would actually go to EuroDisney? Nicolas Sarkozy, in fact, who took Carla Bruni there in 2007. "Gossip Girl is the kind of series that wants to be very current and topical—characters talk about hot topics," says Sheila Marikar, an ABC News entertainment reporter. "He is one of the few international leaders who would be mentioned in such a trendy show." David Andelman, a former CBS News correspondent in Paris and current editor of World Policy Journal, underlines: "The fact that the French president is mentioned like that in Gossip Girl is a gesture that he is becoming a part of the pop culture in America. When I watched the episode with my wife, we were amazed. We replayed the scene a couple of times. Sarkozy is a rock-star president." The problem with rock and roll, of course, is that it's sometimes hard to understand the lyrics. So too of Sarkozy: a lot of people still don't know who he actually is, and his politics appear quite confusing in the United States.

The Index — January 27, 2009

There is division in the European Union ranks over Read more

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