ATHENS.- FBI Director Robert Mueller met with Olympic security chiefs on Friday within the framework of his brief visit to Greece. Sources briefed on the meetings, said Mueller reinforced U.S. calls to broaden the scope of counter-terrorism planning and also urged for more intelligence sharing.
Mueller’s contacts included talks with Public Order Minister Giorgos Floridis, the chief of the Greek police and the head of the Greek intelligence agency. The two men discussed issues of mutual concern and, especially, collaboration for the 2004 Olympics. Mueller honored Greek law enforcement officials, including the chief of the Greek police, Fotis Nasiakos and prosecutor Ioannis Diotis for their role last year in the breakup of the November 17 terror organization.
”Greece is working with several countries, including the U.S., to ensure the full safety of the Olympic Games,” the U.S. State Department said in a written response to a question tabled on Thursday, during the regular briefing.
The question tabled was ” Are there plans for Diplomatic Security Personnel to provide security for American athletes at the Olympics?”
The written release of the State Department also noted that ”the U.S. has offered the expertise and resources of several of its agencies to Greece in order to ensure Olympic security. We are providing equipment and security training toward that end. The Greeks have the will and the resources to hold a secure and successful Olympics, and we have every confidence they will”.
”As part of this cooperation, the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security has been working closely with the Government of Greece to ensure the safety of American athletes participating in the Athens Olympic Games in 2004. Discussions are ongoing with the Greek authorities. For security reasons, we will not be providing more specific information,” it concluded.
Public Order Minister George Floridis emphasized on Thursday that closely watch security planning for next year’s 2004 Athens Olympics includes the concept of focusing on the factor of international instability rather than the internal situation, reiterating that Greece is among the most stable and safest countries in the world.
The public order minister’s comments to the ANA follow in the wake of a veritable barrage of international press coverage on Olympic security, a sector being overseen by the government and not Athens organizers (ATHOC).
“Our approach, methodology and actions are designed on the notion that the multitude of people that will arrive in our country from every corner of the world must be certain they are going to a celebration whose essence will not be ruined by a foreseen or unforeseen event,” Floridis said.
He added that the recent eradication of the domestic urban terrorist group “November 17” and “ELA” will undoubtedly improve internal security conditions for the Games.
Floridis, who previously served in a handful of other ministerial posts, isn’t just for Greece to be secure during the Games but to remain secure in the long run.
“I consider it utopist for us to believe that we can deal with security issues in a globalized environment alone,” he said.
Asked about the level of spending for Games security, Floridis said it will reach the 650-million-euro mark, an unprecedented figure by past Olympic standards.