Out of proportion

The explosion of three homemade bombs at the Kallithea police station yesterday was no doubt an unfortunate incident – even more so against the backdrop of Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis’s visit to the US for discussions with CIA and FBI agents on Olympic security issues. It was an unwelcome but at the same time insignificant incident – which by no means justifies the furor that followed. Even the global fixation on terrorism fails to account for the groundless hyperbole of some foreign media, which in some cases bordered on nonsense. The incident was thoroughly blown out of proportion, and such distortion can only aim at serving ulterior motives. The security budget for the Summer Games has shot up to over 1 billion euros, and this has tempted security contractors to seek ever better terms from the State. Foreign firms have sought to exploit every little incident that feeds into the climate of insecurity and fuels demand for useless yet costly security measures. Even a number of respected media – including leading newspapers in the US and Britain – have been publishing tendentious reports for months in an attempt to create a climate of insecurity in the runup to the Games. The orchestrators of these attacks succeeded in their goal, which was to create a negative international climate. Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was right to claim that the government considers the predawn blasts an «isolated incident» and to remind that the country is always in close cooperation with the European Union, NATO and the United States. «Even such isolated incidents, which could occur anywhere in the world, are dealt with by the competent Greek authorities in a serious and responsible fashion,» government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos added, pre-empting those who might seek to exploit the incident. True, a mix of «domestic, extremist elements without particular capabilities and perspective» – in the words of Greece’s public order minister – and international hyperbole creates a public relations problem. The government must be constantly on alert. This, however, does not change the fact that Athens is the world’s safest place for hosting the Olympic Games, not only because of the draconian security measures it has taken but also because of the political culture of Greek citizens and their friendly ties with the people of the Arab world and beyond.

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