NEWS

Security for Olympic Games is a Greek issue

BRUSSELS – German General Harald Kujat, the head of NATO’s Military Committee and former chief of staff of the German Federal Armed Forces, will be playing a leading role in preparing NATO’s security operation in response to Greece’s request for help in organizing a safe Olympic Games. Kathimerini met Kujat at his Brussels office and interviewed him about security for the 2004 Games in Athens, as well as other issues. At what stage is NATO involvement with the Olympic Games in Athens? We are still discussing the different issues and I understand there will be a meeting next week in Athens to discuss details. But we have established an excellent, close cooperation with the Greek authorities and we will do whatever we can. What added value can NATO bring to the Olympic Games? I would have to go into details of the measures, and that is not my intention, for two reasons. First, I want to leave it to the Greek authorities to make a final decision about what they need, whether NATO is in the position to provide it; so that’s not our business, it’s completely up to the Greek government. And of course I don’t want to go into details for security reasons. It doesn’t make sense to discuss details of the measures in the newspaper. Is there enough time to do what is needed? As far as I can see, we are within the timelines so we can react. The security of the Olympic Games is primarily and absolutely a Greek responsibility. So we do what we are being asked to do and what we can do, within means and capabilities. Do you think Athens will be a target? I don’t know. I’m not a security expert. I’m a simple soldier, so I have no idea whether this will be the case or not. I could say that to target the Olympic Games would be a sacrilege because this is really a historical place and this is the idea of the Olympic Games. Targeting the Olympic Games would be to target the idea of the Olympic Games, and I hope nobody would want to do that. Is it possible to have NATO help without having NATO soldiers on Greek territory? I don’t know. What we definitely need is close coordination of the measures. I personally think the Greek armed forces are an excellent force, so I don’t think you need boots on the ground because you have the forces in place. Olympic security is something completely new for NATO. Is it a challenge? It is new for us but on the other hand what we are discussing here are capabilities that are available, that are qualified. So it is nothing that is completely out of the range of NATO. So will Greece and the Games be much more secure with NATO help? First of all, it is a clear indication of solidarity and I hope it is some kind of deterrent as well. The message is that in accepting that major task, Greece is not alone.