NEWS

Security to be stepped up across Greece

Security at public buildings, the Athens airport and other possible targets of terrorist attacks is to be increased, following a meeting of Prime Minister Costas Simitis and several of his senior ministers yesterday. The meeting, which was attended also by the chief of the national intelligence service, was held to deal with the challenges faced by the international community following the massive terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11. The government did not elaborate on the measures taken yesterday but the Public Order Ministry will send instructions to each ministry regarding the steps it must take. The measures will involve the stepping up of existing emergency plans drawn up by the police, coast guard and armed forces for dealing with terrorism. Among the possible targets that will be guarded more strictly are ministries, government buildings, power and telecommunications facilities, ports, airports and cruise ships. The borders also will be guarded more carefully, as will islands near the Turkish coast. It was also decided that a committee formed by the National Economy Ministry, the Bank of Greece and the Athens Stock Exchange board would intensify its investigation into possible cases of money laundering through bank accounts. Some sources say that certain suspect accounts have been found through which large amounts of money have moved in recent months. Other security measures to be taken will be to speed up the issue of a new type of passport that will be more difficult to forge, a demand that Washington had made over the past three years in order to waive the visa demand of Greeks. Simitis told his aides that he believed the problem of terrorism would be around for a long time and that it had to be dealt with methodically and with a cool head. Others attending included the ministers of interior, national economy, defense, foreign affairs, transport and communications, public order, and development. National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said that if the US retaliation did not lead to a lengthy military campaign, the effects of the crisis on the Greek economy would not be significant. Foreign Minister George Papandreou spoke of the need to guard Greece’s international image so that it would not appear tolerant of terrorism. He is to visit Moscow, Berlin and Washington early next week. Measures must be taken up immediately to make up for lost time, Oswald said, adding that the parties involved, namely the various government agencies and Athens 2004, must make efforts to improve cooperation. He made it clear that he was addressing this message especially to the government. Athens 2004 president Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki also took aim at the government, saying that government must support, not with words, but with (deeds).