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Finnish official appointed EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator

Ilkka Salmi has previously served as chief of staff at the Interior Ministry as well as head of the Finnish Security Intelligence Service.

Ilkka Salmi.
Ilkka Salmi has been appointed EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator. Image: Sisäministeriö

The Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union has appointed Finnish lawyer and civil servant Ilkka Salmi as the EU's Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, the ministry of the interior has announced in a press release.

The release states that Salmi will be responsible for coordinating the council's work in "combating terrorism, maintaining an overview of all EU counter-terrorism instruments and strengthening cooperation and dialogue on counter-terrorism initiatives" between the Council, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the High Representative.

Salmi has previously served as chief of staff at Finland's ministry of the interior as well as head of Finnish Security Intelligence Service Supo, and he told Yle that he believes this new role will allow him to focus entirely on the fight against terrorism.

"Even in the midst of a pandemic, it is worth remembering that, unfortunately, there is still terrorist activity. Although the geographical caliphate of Isis has been defeated, its ideology has survived, at least to some extent, in radical Islamism," Salmi said.

He added that another issue which will require constant attention is the activities of far-right movements across Europe.

"I personally feel that those working in the security sector must strive to identify all security threats, whatever their motive. And yes, this kind of extremism is the kind that needs to be monitored," he said.

The withdrawal of Western troops from Afghanistan had also raised its own security issues, with Salmi telling Yle he is worried about the situation in the country despite hopes for a peaceful transfer of power.

"Everyone hopes that whatever the change, it will be as peaceful as possible. The first signs have not necessarily been very promising however," Salmi noted.

The position of Counter-Terrorism Coordinator was established in 2004 as part of measures aimed at tackling terrorist threats following the terrorist attacks in Madrid on 11 March 2004.

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