NEWS

Tighter security for 2004

The Greek government is more concerned than ever with security measures in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, fearing that the war on terrorism will have local repercussions. Government ministers are considering tightening security for the 2004 Athens Olympics. Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis yesterday proposed that the government tighten the requirements for admitting athletes and International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials into the country. In the light of recent developments, we must re-examine some things… The system will be very strict, Chrysochoidis said. Under existing rules, an IOC accreditation acts as a visa for the country hosting the Games. Last year, Australia denied entry to two accredited officials who wanted to attend the Sydney Olympics on security grounds. Security issues were also at the forefront of the visit by new IOC president Jacques Rogge yesterday. Rogge met Simitis early in the day and declared later that Greece need not exceed the existing $600 million budget for security operations nor revise current plans extensively. The Greek government has been cooperating with the police forces of six other countries, including the United States. However Rogge made it clear that security was the government’s concern… Decisions will be made by the Greeks. IOC member Denis Oswald, who succeeded Rogge as president of the Coordination Commission overseeing the preparation of the 2004 Games, made it clear yesterday that Greece would receive no outside funding in case the security budget is exceeded. The Greek government undertakes the full cost, he said. Rogge departed last night, while Oswald and the commission are continuing a three-day inspection tour that will also focus on delays in building Olympic Games venues. Despite protestations of full support for the American efforts to hunt down the attackers and declarations that terrorism is a war against civilization, the Greek government does not want to be involved in direct reprisals against terrorists and dreads the expansion of terrorist activity into Greece. With its long coastline, Greece faces great problems in guarding its borders. Within the country, it has been utterly unsuccessful so far in pursuing the November 17 terrorist organization, active for more than 25 years and which, despite its bloody record, cannot compare to the boldness and ferocity of the terrorists who attacked New York and Washington, DC. The Greek government fears that a massive retaliation by the US will result in an escalation of terrorist attacks. Arms and drugs. Police who chased down and stopped two cars coming from the Albanian border after they refused to stop at a roadblock on the Konitsa-Ioannina highway yesterday discovered a small arsenal and drugs in the vehicles. After a 35-minute chase, police detained the driver of the lookout car, Ioannis Alexiou, 32, and his brother Gerasimos, the driver of the second car. They discovered 20 hand grenades, 29 electronic detonators, 16 ordinary detonators, a gun, a kilo of heroin and 29 kilos of hashish.