U.S. wants Greece to take futher steps against terrorism

Friday, May 2, 2003

The United States remains dissatisfied with Greece's efforts against insurgency groups. Officials said Athens still harbors groups deemed as terrorists.

"There are some terrorist groups that have offices in Athens, and it's the position of the United States that, you know, we would like these offices closed," State Department counterterrorism coordinator Cofer Black said.

Black did not elaborate. But he added that Greece has achieved what he termed "tremendous progress" against insurgency groups over the last year. He pointed to the arrest of many members of the November 17 group, which has assassinated several Americans in the 1970s and 1980s.

"They've taken an organization that has been the subject of decades of law enforcement activity and investigation, made tremendous progress there," Black said. "People have been arrested, trials are under way, and we expect justice to be done. So I would say that the progress that has been made by Athens is significant and is in the sort of leadership level in the world."

The State Department's dissatisfaction with Greece's record against terrorism confirms earlier statements by U.S. ambassador to Athens, Thomas Miller. Miller angered Greek government leaders by his assertion that leading members of November 17 remain at large.

The State Department issued its annual report on terrorism, entitled "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2002." The report did not cite any examples of Greece's failures in the war against terrorism.

"The Greek Governments record against transnational terrorist groups is mixed," the report said.

But the report said Greece has failed to comply with European Union counterterrorism regulations. This included the introduction of counterterrorism legislation mandating minimum sentences for terrorists and extending the statute of limitations for terrorist-related homicides from 20 to 30 years, in early 2003. Greece also pledged counterterrorism cooperation with its neighbors Romania and Bulgaria.

"Police also have been seeking evidence that will allow them to arrest members of Greece's other domestic terrorist groups, including Revolutionary Nuclei, its predecessor Revolutionary Peoples' Struggle, and 1 May," the report said. "Despite the high-profile arrests, other leftist groups and anarchists conducted low-level attacks and demonstrations in Athens and Thessaloniki. The number of anti-U.S. terrorist attacks all nonlethal rose from 2001s low of three to seven."

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