Tributes and security concerns
From the rock of the Acropolis in Athens to the last provincial post office, flags flew at half mast on all public buildings throughout Greece yesterday as the country observed a day of official mourning for the thousands of victims of the terrorist attacks in the United States on Tuesday. Greece’s leaders expressed full support for the United States and the country’s solidarity in the battle against terrorism. Today is a day of mourning observed by all the citizens of the European Union in memory of the thousands of American citizens and Greek Americans who died tragically in the terrorist attack on the United States, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said after a memorial service at Athens Cathedral which was attended by President Costis Stephanopoulos and the country’s political leadership and diplomatic corps. Terrorist violence has no way out. It leads nowhere. It leads only to destruction, to a society that is repressive and closed. We must mobilize against such a development, Simitis said. We are all in mourning, said Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who was also at the memorial service. He described the terrorist act as a crime against humanity and against open and democratic societies. He added international cooperation had to deal with the perpetrators, but also the causes that have created such thoughts and methods. New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis, who was forced to cancel a speech at the Thessaloniki International Fair this weekend because he is stranded in Boston, attended a memorial service in the US city on Thursday night conducted by Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios of America. Athens 2004 Organizing Committee president Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki stressed the importance of security for the Olympics. The organizing committee has security as its top priority, she said. We are cooperating in this with the State, with specialists, with the International Olympic Committee. When new elements arise we will absorb them in our planning. She added, Changes that are made are applied and not announced. IOC President Jacques Rogge said that all major sporting events had now changed as far as security was concerned. Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens struck a sour note in a sermon at a suburban church yesterday when he suggested the attacks had been provoked. You see what things can come to, you see the tragic consequences of desperate acts, such as the terrorist actions in the United States. We are all horrified at what point a person may reach, where repeated injustices that occur in the world can drive people, Christodoulos said. Of course, the innocent victims of this tragedy were not to blame for anything. But the people of responsibility and power must consider that someday they cannot act with license and without respect toward the justice of God and men. When there is justice there will be peace, he said. FBI suspect list given to Olympic While the United States is still barring its skies to flights from abroad, its aviation authorities are requiring the implementation of stricter security procedures and the FBI is circulating a list of suspect terrorists, asking foreign airlines to check whether those listed ever flew with them. The list, forwarded to airlines on Thursday night, contains more than 10 names according to sources. In Greece, officials of state airline Olympic Airways are checking the airline’s electronic database for 2000 and 2001. According to information, they have so far identified one passenger whose name is included on the FBI list. He traveled from Athens to London in 2000 on a Saudi passport. The US Federal Aviation Authority has sent Olympic a list of requirements that it has to satisfy before being allowed to resume flights to the US. The requirements are that baggage be X-rayed twice; IDs and passports be more carefully checked; no hand luggage be allowed aboard; metal detectors be set at the highest sensitivity level; and that the FAA be informed in advance of the names of the flight crew. Greek-Turkish cooperation. Details of the foundation of a Joint Hellenic-Turkish Standby Disaster Response Unit (JETSDRU) was the subject of talks between a Greek and a Turkish delegation headed by Professor Dimitris Papaniklaou, secretary general for civil defense, and Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan in Athens on September 11 and 12, followed on September 12 and 13 by a meeting of Greek and Turkish experts. The two delegations worked out the draft of a resolution for submission to the UN General Assembly and decided to hold two joint exercises, one in Greece and one in Turkey, within the next year. The joint initiative was taken after the major earthquakes that struck both countries in1999.