28 November, 2003
Israel’s ambassador to Athens on Thursday was the latest top diplomat queried on the issue of security preparations for the 2004 Olympic Games, a subject that has again attracted international scrutiny in the wake of last week’s terrorist bombings in Istanbul.
Israeli envoy Ram Aviram reiterated his government’s satisfaction with the course of Olympic security preparations and planning ahead of the much-anticipated “Olympic homecoming”, a sector directly managed and overseen by Greece’s public order and defense ministries.
“Yes, we feel that there is an intense effort to make sure this is a unique event (the Olympics); we’re satisfied with the way things are going at the moment,” Aviram, who officially assumed his post in Athens in May, said.
Asked about the prospect of his government requesting that Israeli personnel be posted here for the security of Israeli athletes and coaches during the Athens Games, the envoy merely noted that “when the time comes we will make a decision (to request this or not)”.
Referring to the actual terror attacks in Istanbul, particularly the first twin bombings against synagogues in the ancient Bosporus metropolis, the Israeli envoy first emphasized that Jews were attacked simply because they were Jews, whereas he noted that no change in the region’s political situation was achieved with the suicide attacks.
Speaking during a press briefing for local reporters, Aviram also touched on other issues related to Greek-Israeli ties, reiterating that official Israeli recognition of Jerusalem Patriarch Irineos is still pending. “The problem has not been solved, that’s the bottom line … I hope it will be solved quickly,” he said, adding however, that numerous “angles” relate to the specific ecclesiastical issue in the Holy Land.
In opening his comments, Aviram said Greek-Israeli relations are most definitely going in the “right direction”, with the focus over the coming period falling on economic and trade relations, especially cooperation in third countries. Among others, he cited heightened interest on both sides for cooperation in the Balkans as well as Greek interest for enhanced business ties with Israel and Israeli firms.
Other topics discussed included the new Palestinian government, Israel’s positions vis-a-vis Syria and Iran, as well as the Sharon government’s views amid international criticism of a massive concrete security fence that Israel is building in the West Bank.
In prefacing in comments about the prickly Mideast peace process, Aviram referred to a “mutual goal” of a secure and tranquil Israel and the fulfillment of the Palestinians’ national aspirations for an independent state.
Source: Athens News Agency