Reaction to Commission’s ‘travel advisory’ for Greece continues despite Brussels denials
By Nikos Chrysoloras
Brussels - The European Commission denied on Saturday the authenticity of an e-mail published by To Vima newspaper claiming to be sent from Brussels to EC officials in Greece warning of violent clashes in March that could lead to fatalities. But despite the EU executive arm’s claim that the message has been forged, Greek politicians in Brussels sought clarification on the matter.
Greece’s representative on the Commission, EU Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki sent an urgent letter of complaint to Jose Manuel Barroso, the president European Commission, asking for clarifications about the alleged travel advisory to EC staff. Damanaki said she had not been aware of the message and was informed about it from press reports. In the letter, Damanaki insists Greece is a peaceful country that is safer for European citizens and officials.
PASOK MEP Marilena Koppa submitted an urgent question to the Commission in which she asks to be officially notified about the alleged e-mail, which claims that EC officials’ safety could be at risk.
The message published by To Vima and dismissed by Brussels has numerous grammatical errors and reads as follows:
This note is confidential, for your information. Contacts information has been removed for reasons of safety of people involved. There is some additional information (only orally distributed), shared with IMF staff, in regard with intelligence collected, concerning violent riots in Athens on March, with Xs (the number mentioned is not possible to communicate) deads.
Kind request for discretional treatment.
FYI, this is the first travel advice ever issued by Commission for a mission of officials to a member state.
Greek employees in Commission have been severely upset and they read very carefully the recommendations also for their own safety whenever they will have to travel and accommodate back home.
The head of the European Commission’s representation in Athens, Panagiotis Karvounis told Kathimerini on Saturday that he categorically denied that this message or any e-mail similar to it had been sent to EU officials. He said that the e-mail published by To Vima was a fake.
A Commission spokesperson also dismissed the message as “rubbish and nonsense written in poor English.” He also expressed surprise that the journalists who included it in his article could not understand from the poor quality of English contained in the message that it could not have been an official advisory from the Commission.