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09 October, 2001
Stringent security measures have been imposed throughout Greece on Monday, particularly in airports and military installations, following the start of United States air attacks against Afghanistan.
Transport minister Christos Verelis issued orders forbidding all flights by small private aircraft until further notice, while airports are on alert and passenger checks are exhaustive.
In addition, civil aviation authorities have been instructed to alert the Greek air force so that it can identify and intercept aircraft that veer off course in Greek airspace.
Security has also been stepped up around possible NATO, US and western targets in the country, including US and NATO military bases on Crete, Aktion and in Larissa.
In statements to reporters early on Monday morning, Deputy Defense Minister Dimitris Apostolakis, said that the increased security around bases or areas where foreign forces were deployed was natural and one of Greece's obligations toward its allies.
He also pointed out that Greece had pledged to assist the international effort against terrorism, and would provide any assistance or facility that was needed and considered useful.
"The first procedure will be to facilitate the movement of forces, providing space in the air and sea. But this will be dealt with depending on the circumstances, for each situation and specific request."
Apostolakis denied that the air force had orders to bring down any aircraft in Greek airspace that had not submitted a flight plan.
"The matter is not that simple, shooting down any aircraft. There are procedures that are followed and which will now be followed even more strictly," he said.
Asked whether there was a danger of a terrorist strike in Greece, the minister said that no one could preclude a terrorist strike on their territory, since terrorism was by definition 'blind'.
"It may have an ideological 'mantle', a general goal or target of revenge, but it is generally blind and therefore no one can assure themselves that they are safe or unassailable."
The minister pointed out that Greece was not a primary target, however, since a terrorist strike here would not have the 'shock effect' that terrorists wanted, while its relations with Arab countries were generally good.
Source: Athens News Agency