Wednesday, May 27, 2009
By El Periódico de Catalunya
Europe’s political and administrative capital is also a hotbed of international espionage where secret services vie for economic, technological, geopolitical and military supremacy.
Brussels is a nest of spies. In the aftermath of the Cold War, foreign secret services did not downsize activities in the Belgian capital: on the contrary, they redoubled their efforts and the range of their objectives. Brussels-based espionage is now so widespread that the European Commission recently circulated an internal memo to its directors to take precautions against recurrent attempts to “obtain confidential and sensitive documents” concerning Commission activity.
The memo said “some countries, lobbyists, journalists and private organisations are trying to obtain classified information”, adding that “people linked to secret services” are operating undercover as “interns, journalists, EU countries’ attachés to the European Commission and computer technicians”.
“Along with Washington DC and Geneva, Brussels is one of the three key cities for secret services the world over,” explains Kristof Clerix, author of the book Vrij spel. Buitenlandse geheine diensten in België (“Foreign Secret Services in Belgium: Beyond the Law?”) “The methods remain the same as during the Cold War: to gain people’s trust and then exploit it. What has changed is the use of new technologies and the ever-increasing importance of economic issues,” notes Clerix, a staffer for the Belgian journal of international politics MO.
“In political and military terms, Brussels is now even more interesting for spies than it was during the Cold War,” Clerix points out, especially since Brussels-based NATO no longer confines itself to allied defence, but has launched military operations in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan and extended its influence into the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. The EU, moreover, now has foreign and defence policymaking powers, and is even developing large-scale military and political operations (in Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, the Congo, Somalia)....(Click for remainder.)