23 March, 2004
Addressing Parliament during the debate on the government's policy statement on Monday, Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis stressed that no NATO land forces or uniformed troops will be called in to assist in the safety of the Olympic Games in August.
He said Athens' request for NATO assistance during the Games was part of an international network of cooperation that Greece was developing to ensure their safety.
The minister said that NATO's role will include 24-hour surveillance from the air by AWACS radar planes and of the seas by NATO ships sailing outside Greek territorial waters, that will also be able to carry out on-board inspections of vessels in international waters.
He said Greece will be receiving more intelligence, particularly information related to terrorist threats, and would have assistance in dealing with biochemical warfare.
The minister emphasized, however, that all forces within Greek territory will be under Greek tactical command.
''Our goal is to organize safe Olympic Games and there is no point in arguing over whether this procedure might have been done differently,'' he said.
On more general policies regarding crime and law enforcement, Voulgarakis said that the government's aim was to bring police closer to the ordinary public, while its policies against crime will be based on cooperation between the state, security forces, science, the media and Parliament.
He announced plans to increase police patrols on foot and restore the agricultural police force, as well as to create universities for police and fire-fighting studies and pledged recognition of the hazardous nature of the work done those in the emergency service.
With regard to immediate measures, the minister said these would concentrate on better use of police resources, with a more even distribution of personnel and fewer officers detached to unrelated services, as well as greater emphasis on border guards, more theoretical and practical training, especially in firearms, and a bid to establish meritocracy and purge the police force of party-political interference and mentalities.
Source: Athens News Agency