NEWS

Australians warned over travel in Greece

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia issued new travel advisories for Greece and Germany yesterday, containing general warnings to its citizens to be alert to their personal security in both countries. Australia has never issued travel advisories for Greece or Germany before but has angered several of its Asian neighbors with a series of warnings and bulletins in the past two years. The advisories, issued on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website (www.dfat.gov.au), warn Australians in Greece and Germany «to be alert to their own security and monitor developments that might affect their safety.» Officials have said the new advisories are not related to specific security issues or threats in either country and are similar to recent advisories issued for France, Italy and Spain. The advisory for Greece warns Australian travelers that public demonstrations sometimes become violent and that tourists in Greece have been victims of sexual assault and petty crimes such as pick-pocketing and bag-snatching. «Australians planning on attending the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens are encouraged to subscribe to travel advice updates on Greece,» the advisory says. Greece is sensitive to security issues since a recent barrage of media reports questioned the Games’ «patchy» safety plans, despite drawing up the biggest-ever security operation in Olympic history for next year. It is also sensitive to comparisons with Sydney, which staged a successful and trouble-free 2000 Games. No specific issues are mentioned on the advisory for Germany, apart from «the ongoing risk of terrorist attacks worldwide.» Australia’s conservative government has issued a blizzard of travel warnings since 88 Australians were among 202 people killed in bomb attacks on nightclubs in the Indonesian resort island of Bali last October.