Kuwait News Agency (kuna)
June 23, 2008 - 3:27pm

The European Union announced Monday that it intends to expand its police mission for the Palestinian Territories, called EUPOL COPPS, in the area of the criminal justice system.
"Expanding the mission is a decision already taken and has been accepted by all the parties," EU Special Representative for the Middle East peace process, Marc Otte, told a press conference here today.
"We are now in the process of working on the administrative elements for the mission and recruiting people," he noted.
Referring to the Berlin conference in support of Palestinian Civil Security and Rule of Law to be held on Tuesday, Otte said that in the wake of the Annapolis conference last November "we have decided to help build the Palestinian state and provide solutions for a final status agreement." "The Berlin meeting will focus the minds of the Palestinians that they have to be prepared to present a consistent, coherent and credible plans to the donor community," said Otte.
The Berlin Conference is one of a series of international meetings aiming to strengthen Palestinian structures. Alongside a Donor Conference in Paris in December 2007, there was also an Investment Conference in Bethlehem in mid-May 2008. Alongside economic development, a particular focus of the Berlin conference is on establishing Palestinian state structures. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has invited more than forty of his colleagues to the Berlin meeting.
On his part, Kees Klompenhouwer, director of civilian planning in the EU, said the EUPOL COPPS will expand the number of staff from 33 to 50 to include judges, prosecutors and barristers.
"The aim is to look at the whole criminal justice system, from police to justice system to prison to courts," he said, adding that they hope to increase the number to 70 by the end of September.
The operational phase of EUPOL COPPS started on 1 January 2006 and will have an initial duration of 3 years .
The mission is concentrating currently in the West Bank and not in Gaza.
On his part, the head of the mission Colin Smith told the joint press conference that the aim of the mission is to "contribute to the establishment of sustainable and effective policing arrangements under Palestinian ownership in accordance with the best international standards." Menawhile, Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), will visit Berlin from Monday to Tuesday to attend the Berlin Conference and a meeting of the International Quartet .


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