NEWS

EU umbrella for Games

As the task of making the Olympics safe becomes increasingly urgent, Greece has been trying to find ways to simplify the exchange of information between EU members. According to sources, officials in charge of Olympic security believe that aside from bilateral relations, which they have developed for the gathering and evaluation of intelligence, it will be very useful to activate a system that will function as an administrative, central authority. This, they believe, would better persuade member states to gather and provide intelligence that could concern Olympic security. The Greek delegation at last Friday’s emergency meeting of EU justice and interior ministers in Brussels met with its counterparts from France, Germany, Britain, Spain and Ireland (which holds the EU’s rotating presidency) and discussed ways in which to structure a central system (perhaps through Europol) for the collection and distribution of intelligence, the same sources said. This would involve, in effect, a Pan-European umbrella for the Games. The Greeks also raised the issue of the movement of people within the European Union, as Greece is the first signatory of the Schengen Treaty to host Olympic Games. The fact that EU passports do not contain biometric information makes it difficult to monitor the movement of individuals. One possible solution involves Europol’s providing information on the movement of suspects and the agency being able, if requested, to stop suspects in other countries, before they get to Greece. Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras is moving toward adopting the EU-wide arrest warrant for terrorism suspects in May and the introduction of a stricter anti-terrorism law in line with those in Europe. Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis told Parliament yesterday that NATO would not base any ground troops or uniformed personnel in Greece during the Olympics. He said early warning planes will patrol the skies and only Greek warships will be in Greek territorial waters. Sources said the Czech battalion trained to deal with radioactive and chemical weapons will be on standby in the Czech Republic. NATO’s assistance is expected to result in a five-fold increase of intelligence In an interview with the Ta Nea daily yesterday, CIA Director George Tenet said he believed NATO would help make the Games safer. «All NATO members have special capabilities. And the more of them that help, the safer the Games will be,» he said.