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24 July, 2002
US Ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller said on Tuesday he has no evidence confirming the existence of links between the November 17 terrorist group and members of PAK (an anti-junta organization) or PASOK (the party currently in power in Greece).
Miller, who was addressing the Hellenic American Institute here, said that from probes and investigations conducted so far ''I have seen no evidence supporting these claims.''
He further said that ''when I have no evidence I shall not submit my personal views on the issue'' and called for attention only to be paid to statements made by himself and other relevant officials and not the views of people who have no official bearing at present.
Miller said this issue ''is of secondary importance at this stage, adding that what is important at the moment is for probes and investigations to go ahead and then the trials and convictions of those responsible.
''The case will not be over if the trials are not completed, which must be fair,'' he said and added that the Greek authorities handled the issue ''with great effectiveness.''
Miller praised the role played by Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis with whom, as he said, he is maintaining continuous contact even from Washington where he has been during these past few days to brief relevant American services on the latest developments.
''We are helping and we shall continue to do this, but the Greek government is the one deserving to be credited with the success,'' he said.
Commenting on the reasons why the breakup of November 17 is being achieved now and not over the past 27 years, Miller attributed it to luck to a certain degree as well ''since the bomb exploded in the hands of (Savvas) Xiros'' (the alleged terrorist currently being treated at an Athens hospital).
However, Miller added that ''luck only helps when you have done the necessary preparation to enable you to be in a position to take advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself'' and that ''serious work has been done in past years, there is a very efficient public order minister, there is determination.''
The U.S. envoy further said ''the change observed in Greek public opinion was also a considerable contribution'' which was due to the ''human image'' given to the victims of terrorism by the British attache's widow Heather Saunders and the families of the rest of the victims who created the organization ''Enough is Enough.''
Miller termed the level of bilateral relations as ''excellent'', adding that cooperation against international terrorism is very good and preparations for the security of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games are moving in the same spirit.
Lastly, Miller said Cyprus already fulfils almost all criteria necessary for European Union accession, which, as it is hoped, will contribute to the finding of a solution.
Source: Athens News Agency