Greece Angry at US Terror Report Recommending Sanctions

By Louis Economopoulos | July 7, 2008 | 8:08 PM EDT

Athens, Greece ( - The Greek government has expressed anger at a new US anti-terrorism plan, which suggests Greece is not doing enough to combat terrorism.

A report by a U.S. congressional advisory panel, due for release Monday, was leaked to American media over the weekend. It calls for punitive measures against both Greece and Pakistan, which it accuses of not taking sufficiently robust steps against terrorism.

Neither country is on the State Department's list of terror-sponsoring states, which would make them subject to strict sanctions.

Athens government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the report "does not correspond to the true situation in our country and is not acceptable."

Reppas said Greece had expressed its "firm will against terrorism," and that the country was engaged in a "continuous effort for the elimination of such activities."

In a bid to quell the row, U.S. Ambassador to Greece Nicholas Burns told the Athens News Agency Sunday that the report had nothing to do with the State Department or the Clinton administration.

While saying he respected the members of the National Commission on Terrorism, Burns said that it was his and the administration's belief that no sanctions should be taken against Greece - "which is a close ally of ours" - as suggested by the commission.

Burns said the subject of terrorism should be tackled "far away from the lights of publicity." The U.S., he continued, was cooperating effectively with Greek Public Order Minister Michalis Chrisochoidis.

Chrisochoidis has reacted negatively to U.S. demands to change the existing legislative framework on terrorism, and he rejected American criticism of Greece contained in the annual State Department terrorism report.

The commission recommends that both Greece and Pakistan be prevented from purchasing U.S. military equipment, and that citizens of both countries be required to obtain visas before visiting the U.S.

It said neither country was fully cooperating with U.S. anti-terrorism efforts.

The report said Greece had been "disturbingly passive" in its counter-terrorism efforts and had managed to solve only one of 146 terrorist attacks against U.S. interests since 1975.

Parliamentary president Apostolos Kaklamanis criticized the earlier State Department report, which he said had outraged Greeks.

He said terrorism was an issue used by the United States "in the same way they had used in the past the threat of communism and more recently the threat of Islam in order to exert pressures and possibly to undermine policies they do not approve of."

Last month the Greek government expressed its ire over an article in Time magazine, which accused Greece as having "unlimited ineptitude" and a "lack of political will" to combat terrorism.

Reppas at the time slammed the article as "unacceptable" and "provocative," and said he wishes the citizens of "all the countries of the so-called West" were as safe as Greek citizens were.

Reppas referred to the article's concerns over security when Athens hosts the Olympic Games in 2004, and hinted at earlier Games marred by violence.

"Let's talk about real events, with victims, in previous Games conducted in other countries, not Greece. Let's not talk hypothetically over what could happen at the Games of 2004," Reppas said.

During the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta two people were killed and dozens injured from a bomb explosion. In 1976, the Games in Munich saw Palestinian terrorists capture and kill Israeli athletes.

Milosevic Visit

Greek-U.S. relations are usually warm although occasionally disturbed by issues such as anti-American terrorism in Greece and differences over the future of Yugoslavia.

Washington is unlikely to take kindly to a weekend visit to Belgrade by a leading Greek politician who reportedly expressed solidarity with a regime shunned by the West.

The president of a parliamentary foreign affairs and defense committee, Karolos Papoulias, held talks with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

According to an announcement by Milosevic's office, Papoulias conveyed the Greek people's support and congratulated him at the successful process of reconstruction since NATO's bombing campaign last year.

Papoulias, a former foreign minister, said a policy of pressurising Yugoslavia was mistaken and contrary to the aims of peace and stability shared by the two countries.

"Relations between Yugoslavia and Greece will develop with success, in accordance with the friendship between the peoples of the two countries, despite the pressures to which Greece is exposed on the part of the U.S. administration," Milosevic said.

He was quoted as saying European governments should protect the interests of their people first, rather than the interests of the U.S. and "its irrational idea to dominate over the whole world."