NATO to provide security for Euro 2004

Updated: 25 February 2007 09:06 IST

Portugal is asking NATO to provide AWACS surveillance planes during the three-week European Championship beginning on June 12.

NATO to provide security for Euro 2004

Lisbon:

Portugal is asking NATO to provide AWACS surveillance planes during the three-week European Championship beginning on June 12 according to Prime Minister Jose Durao Barroso. A formal written request was sent to the alliance after Durao Barroso arrived in Brussels, Belgium, for a European Union summit yesterday, said Bernardo Costa Pereira of Portugal's NATO delegation. Some 1.2 million fans are expected at the competition's 31 games. The 16-nation tournament is to be played at 10 stadiums across the country. England, Spain, Italy and Portugal, countries which backed the US-led invasion of Iraq, are competing at Euro 2004, which is held every four years in different countries. Recent train bombings in neighbouring Spain jolted Portugal into reviewing its security plans for the championship. Previously, authorities had focused on possible hooliganism by visiting fans, and said terrorism was not perceived as a major threat. Defence Ministry spokesperson Miguel Guedes said there were currently no plans to ask NATO for help beyond the AWACS. Greece has asked NATO to share intelligence on potential terror threats and increase Mediterranean naval patrols, as well as to help patrol its airspace, during the Olympic Games. NATO sent AWACS to provide air cover for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and has regularly used them to provide security for high-risk events in Europe, such as political summits. The system is primarily used to detect suspicious aircraft and can spot low-flying aircraft, including those flown by suicide pilots, at a range of more than 400 kilometers. After the Madrid bombings Portugal stepped up security measures to prevent terror attacks that could target Euro 2004. During the soccer tournament, Portugal is to restore border controls it scrapped in 1991, bringing back passport checks and vehicle searches, and has already strengthened security at key transport hubs, and at main public buildings, including foreign embassies. Some 20,000 police officers are on alert across the country. Also, the government's Anti-Terrorism Unit is now meeting daily instead of weekly. (AP)



Topics : Football
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