ATHENS Ñ Greece has responded to heavy U.S. pressure by announcing aggressive security measures in advance of the Olympic Games in August 2004.
Officials said more than 10,000 soldiers will be recruited to secure the
2004 Olympic Games in Athens. They said many of them will be inside the stadiums
to respond to any attack.
Officials said the government of Prime Minister Costas
Simitis has been under heavy pressure from Washington to raise Greece's
The new Greek security measures were announced in wake of the Al Qaida
suicide attacks in November in the Turkish city of Istanbul. Officials said
they have been concerned that Al Qaida agents plan to infiltrate Greece to
carry out strikes, Middle East Newsline reported.
The U.S. demands have included a large Greek police presence in and
around Athens, a U.S. security force in and around the Olympic Village and a
U.S. command and control center in the village. Washington also wants a U.S.
aircraft carrier stationed outside the port of Piraeus in Athens.
"The Olympic Games are a challenge for all of Greece," Greek President
Costis Stephanopoulos said. "The challenge will mainly be played out in
Athens. There, we will give the responses to the questions and insinuations
put forward at times against our country and its ability to organize such an
important and worldwide event, such as the Olympic Games."
Greece has agreed to construct a security fence around the Olympic
Village in northwest Athens. Officials said the double chain-link fence will
contain electronic surveillance cameras, sensors and observation posts. They
said this will be similar to the NATO barriers being established across
One fence will surround the perimeter of the Olympic Village. The second
fence will encompass housing and other vital facilities. Police and army
units will patrol in the buffer areas between the fences.
Many of the measures mark revisions of previous security arrangements
drafted by Greece.
Several of the countries on the seven-member Olympic security panel have
praised the latest Greek measures. Israel's ambassador to Athens, Ram
Aviram, said his government was pleased with the security arrangements.
"We feel that there is an intense effort to make sure this is a unique
event," Aviram said. "We're satisfied with the way things are going at the
Aviram did not rule out the prospect that Israel would request the
deployment of its security personnel to protect the Israeli Olympic team.
The United States has already requested that its security detail be allowed
to carry weapons.
"When the time comes we will make a decision," Aviram said.