Security concerns

Pressure on Athens from Washington to boost its security spending for the 2004 Olympic Games need not worry the government unduly, since the pot has been kept on the boil by certain vested interests, as government spokesman Christos Protopappas said recently. It would not be the first time a state comes under outside pressure to purchase costly foreign products – like those that foreign firms are trying to sell to Athens by exploiting global terrorism concerns. If the Simitis administration was only faced by those wanting to add an extra 50-million-euro bill to Greece’s budget, the premier could ignore their pressure if he so wished. But when news stories, such as a recent Washington Post article on the security of the Athens Olympics, contain references to the November 17 terrorist organization and to alleged «younger members who are still at large» and who «have been seen on surveillance video,» then we may assume that the pressures are more than part of business bargaining. According to government sources, the newspaper report surprised government circles that considered the issue closed following last summer’s clampdown and the current trial of N17 suspects. However, several politicians have privately acknowledged that Washington believes there are still some unresolved issues in the case, and that we should brace for a second round of developments after the N17 trial. According to the same sources, this second round will be a tough challenge for the Simitis administration. The sources add that a new phase of developments would be anything but unexpected for certain government and state officials, who have been briefed on the issue. All this speculation concerning terrorism-related issues shortly before the 2004 Games can only be a cause for concern.

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