Reforming EYP

The decision by the Public Order Ministry to begin a radical reform of Greece’s National Intelligence Agency (EYP) follows from its decision to keep the intelligence service away from the operation to dismantle the November 17 terrorist group. The operation was, of course, in EYP’s sphere of competence; but not even its own political head has confidence in it. Ever since its establishment, EYP (formerly known as KYP) was sealed by the bad climate of the civil war. As a consequence, its main preoccupation was to deal with «the enemy from within.» And this was despite the fact that Greece has since the 1950s been threatened by Turkish expansionism, first in Cyprus and then in the Aegean Sea and Western Thrace. The efforts by the Constantine Karamanlis government after 1974 to modernize the service yielded few results. In the 1980s, the PASOK governments tried to bring EYP under control by assigning party officials to it. The intelligence service was thereby paralyzed under the burden of political patronage. EYP was the first secret agency whose members not only formed unions but even summoned general meetings in hotels. Kathimerini has no intention, nor does it possess the evidence, to evaluate EYP’s performance; but it shares the belief that the service has become unable to fulfill its national role. Governments have been only rarely provided with timely warnings about crucial developments or received reliable information concerning enemy movements. As there seem to be well-founded reasons to believe that EYP has to some extent been undermined, one can only welcome Michalis Chrysochoidis’s intention to embark on a radical restructuring of the agency. This plan is being pushed forward regardless of the conflicting views that will be expressed regarding the new form of the organization. Greece needs a modern and efficient agency that can collect and process information, and which is able to plan and carry out secret operations for the protection of the national interest. The practice of staffing EYP with military officials and police officers has failed. It needs a new generation of highly skilled officers and modern technological equipment. Intelligence services are by nature opaque. In order to prevent their inherent tendency toward autonomy, the State needs to introduce mechanisms for political and internal checks. These should not undermine its operative ability but prevent the emergence of the usual degenerative phenomena.