‘New factors’ in defense

At a meeting of the Government Council on Foreign Policy and Defense (KYSEA) yesterday, Prime Minister Costas Simitis stressed that Greece would stand firm with its allies in the war against international terrorism. The government is now waiting for the outcome of today’s summit of European Union leaders for the policy guidelines that will be worked out to deal with the problem. Simitis set out a clear framework that the international community should follow in retaliating against last week’s terrorist attacks in the United States so as not to create, even indirectly, excuses for further terrorist action. A statement from the prime minister’s office said that Simitis had warned that no action should be carried out that could lead to the division of the world into camps such as North-South, Rich-Poor, or polarization between different civilizations. Simitis stressed the need for initiatives which will have specific results and that any actions should not be taken under the pressure of public opinion. He said that otherwise, the alliance against terrorism would face the danger of provoking further terrorist acts and the creation of a new cycle of violence and uncertainty. Simitis also warned that civilian casualties must be avoided. We must not provide even indirectly the basis for a political justification for terrorist acts, he said. The meeting dealt in detail with the new international situation following the terrorist attacks but it took few decisions as Washington’s course of action remains unclear. It was agreed that Greece’s defense dogma would not change but would be enriched to include the need to deal with so-called asymmetrical threats, which include that of terrorism. Simitis also called on his ministers to provide ideas for the creation of a Crisis Management Council that will include representatives of the ministries of defense, foreign affairs, interior, public order and merchant marine. This is expected to play a role in the Athens 2004 organization. The Defense Ministry will contribute actively toward Athens 2004’s security. The meeting decided to continue negotiations for the purchase of new tanks for another four months with the American, French, British and German companies that have submitted offers. The Defense Ministry is to choose between a Spanish and Italian bid for midsize transport planes. There are new factors that have to be tackled with a complete new policy on national defense, said Defense Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos. Espionage

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