07 May, 2004
The dimensions given to Wednesday's early morning home-made bomb explosions outside a police precinct in the residential district of Kallithea were ''disproportionate to the significance of the incident'', national defense minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos said Thursday.
''The (Greek) government will organize the safest and best Olympic Games. We are determined to succeed, and we will succeed,'' Spiliotopoulos told reporters after addressing an Economist conference on the Greek economy taking place at a hotel in the eastern Attica seaside town of Kavouri.
Addressing the conference earlier, Spiliotopoulos told delegates that the security budget for the Athens 2004 Games exceeds 650 million euro and was more than three times that of the preceding Sydney Olympics.
He also pointed out that more than 40,000 security staff were involved vis-a-vis the Athens Games, a number more than double that usually required for such events.
Asked to comment on the visit to Greece by Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- who was due to arrive in Athens Thursday night -- Spiliotopoulos said it confirmed the political volition of the two sides to further improve Greek-Turkish relations.
''Where there is a will for peace -- and apparently it exists also on the Turkish side -- peace's share increases,'' he said.
Questioned whether there were differences between the current New Democracy government and previous governments in the area of defense, Spiliotopoulos said that there was no change in the strategic goals, only differences at a ''tactical level on improving our defense strategy''.
''We believe that with a more rationalized use of the country's economic capabilities we can ensure quality armaments for the Armed Forces that can function as multipliers of strength,'' he said.
Speaking at the same conference, NATO assistant secretary general for Public Diplomacy Jean Fournet said that NATO and the European Union were determined to continue their cooperation for tackling modern-day threats. ''We can shape events, instead of being their victims,'' he said.
A taped message by US deputy secretary of State Richard Armitage was also shown at the conference. Armitage referred to his cooperation with Greece's public order minister George Voulgarakis -- who is currently on a visit to Washington -- on Olympic Games security matters and expressed hope that the Olympic Games will return safely to their country of birth.
Armitage further said that the Turkish Cypriots should be rewarded for their position on the referendum (on the Annan plan) in Cyprus, and expressed regret at the Greek Cypriots' decision (to reject the plan in the referendum).
Source: Athens News Agency