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REFERENCE CLASSIFICATION CREATED LEAKED ORIGIN
09ATHENS1643 SECRET 11/19/2009 13:54 09ATHENS1593 Embassy Athens
 
     
  Ambassador's Meeting with Minister of Citizens' Protection  
     
  S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 ATHENS 001643

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E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/11/19
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, SOCI, PTER, KCRM, KTIP, SMIG, GR
SUBJECT: Ambassador's Meeting with Minister of Citizens' Protection
Chrysochoidis

REF: ATHENS 1593

CLASSIFIED BY: Daniel V. Speckhard, Ambassador; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. (C) SUMMARY: Greek Minister of Citizens' Protection Michalis
Chrysochoidis provided Ambassador Speckhard with an outline on
November 12 of his ambitious plan to reorganize and energize all of
Greece's civilian security agencies, including the national police,
the domestic intelligence service, the Coast Guard, and the
firefighters. Chrysochoidis decried the "collapse" of the security
securities under the previous New Democracy (ND) government, which
left Greece unable to confront the twin challenges of domestic
terrorism and organized crime. For this reason, Chrysochoidis has
brought all civilian security agencies into his newly created
ministry; made personnel changes in the leadership of the police,
domestic intelligence, and the firefighting service; narrowed the
mission of the Coast Guard to almost solely maritime border
security; changed the heads of the police's CT unit and its
departments; created an interagency mechanism to foster
collaboration; and proposed creating a new 100-person agency to
fight organized crime as a mini-FBI. Chrysochoidis welcomed U.S.
assistance in his reorganization, particularly training. A
follow-on meeting the next day between DCM McCarthy and Deputy
Minister Vougias revealed that Vougias will focus primarily on
migration and road safety issues. The DCM also explained a variety
of ways in which Greece and the United States could cooperate on
the range of law enforcement issues, and urged Vougias to place
officers in posts where their U.S.-provided training could be put
to good use. END SUMMARY.



2. (C) The Ambassador began the 50-minute meeting by expressing
the Embassy's full support for the Ministry of Citizens'
Protection's (MCP) work on counterterrorism, organized crime, drug
trafficking, and human smuggling. He asked Chrysochoidis for his
best assessment of the new domestic terrorist and anarchist groups
that were active in Greece, specifically the nature of any
connections between them. Chrysochoidis replied that Greece is the
only European country to be confronted with second-generation
domestic terrorism. Similar phenomena in Western Europe, such as
the Baader-Meinhof group and the Red Brigades, burned themselves
out in the 1970s and 1980s. While there was a brief resurgence of
domestic terrorism in Italy in the 1990s, that movement, too, was
undone by good law-enforcement work and internal tensions. In
Greece, however, there has been continuity in domestic terrorism
since the mid-1970s, and the current terrorist groups, while not
immediately linked to such predecessors as 17 November and ELA,
nevertheless are very much the heirs to their activities.



3. (S) Chrysochoidis said that while one can speak of domestic
terrorism writ large, it was important to distinguish between the
three most prominent groups:



-- The Conspiracy of Cells of Fire (SFP) has many
people but produces relatively low-level activity. It is more a
movement than a real organization. It deserves attention chiefly
because it is a source for recruitment into other organizations.
It may well have been directly inspired by convicted bomber Nikolas
Maziotis, since the language and ideology of his written court
defense in 2000 are almost identical with the wording, views, and
spirit of the most recent published proclamations by SFP.

-- Revolutionary Struggle (EA) and Sect of Revolutionaries (SE)
originally were one organization but split over internal tensions.
Of the two, SE is the more violent, since it is composed of
"assassins without ideology" who "hate society." By contrast, EA
has an ideological basis. Chrysochoidis said that it was his
suspicion that EA had connections to the Middle East, since some of
its members -- the intellectuals of EA, not the operators -- have
been observed to frequent the Iranian Embassy in Athens and to
travel extensively to such countries as Iran and Lebanon. Some may

ATHENS 00001643 002 OF 004


have ties to Hamas. EA seeks publicity and so engages in visible
attacks that will make headlines in the media. In this regard,
EA's attack against the American Embassy in 2007 was illustrative.



4. (C) Greece currently is not positioned to combat this threat,
according to Chrysochoidis. When PASOK was in power in the late
1990s and early 2000s, it made great strides in creating a modern
security apparatus. In fact, by the time of the Olympic Games in
2004 Greece had succeeded in forming a counterterrorist model of
interagency cooperation that was the prototype for the rest of
Europe. However, the New Democracy government that came to power
in 2004 created "a new reality" in Greece's security services,
which subsequently collapsed. Chrysochoidis said that he was
particularly worried about the collapse in the capabilities of the
police force. In his opinion, organized crime is the "main enemy
of social cohesion." It has infiltrated the official economy, as
well as stepping up its traditional activities in weapons
smuggling, money laundering, human trafficking, and counterfeiting.
In addition, authorities increasingly are seeing a link between
organized crime and domestic terrorists. Finally, both
issues-counterterrorism and organized crime-cannot be detached from
their regional context. "Greece has bad neighbors," Chrysochoidis
stated. Albania is a major source of organized crime, as evidenced
by the arrest recently of an Albanian trafficker in women who had a
bank account containing 5 million euros and 5 ships worth a total
of 45 million euros. The problem of illegal immigration cannot be
solved without the assistance of Albania and especially Turkey, he
said.



5. (C) For this reason, Chrysochoidis has decided to reorganize
and reenergize Greece's entire non-military security system with
the following goals:

-- First, he has brought together into the new MCP all elements of
domestic security, including the police, EYP, the firefighters, and
the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG). Chrysochoidis acknowledged that he
was radically changing the nature of the Coast Guard, sending all
of its functions but maritime border security to the Ministry of
the Economy, Competitiveness, and Merchant Marine. The new agency
will have about 7,000 officers and--under a draft law to be
introduced in about three months-a new name reflecting its core
mission. (NOTE: What is conventionally called the Hellenic Coast
Guard [HCG] in English is actually called in Greek the Harbor Corps
or the Port Police Corps [to Limeniko Soma], so Chrysochoidis is
proposing a name in Greek consistent with its new mission to guard
Greece's coast [aktofylaki]. The functions of the port police will
migrate to the Ministry of the Economy, Competitiveness, and the
Merchant Marine. The Commandant, Admiral Retzemperis, resigned
over this change. END NOTE)

-- Second, he has changed the leaderships in both the Hellenic
National Police (HNP) and the firefighting service. Chrysochoidis
stressed that while it was important to introduce organizational
changes in the firefighting service, it was as important to change
public perceptions that fires are fought by helicopters from the
air and not by firefighters on the ground.

-- Third, he is reorganizing entirely the
counterterrorist structures. He repeated that Greece's
counterterrorist system had collapsed under New Democracy. So he
has appointed a new chief for the HNP's counterterrorist unit
(HNP/CTU), Alkiviadis Tzoitis, who is "a good officer, very
operational, very smart." He worked on security for the Olympics
and has previous experience in EYP. In addition, Chrysochoidis has
changed all the department heads in HNP/CTU.

-- Fourth, to foster interagency cooperation
Chrysochoidis is creating a mechanism to enhance cooperative ties
between HNP/CTU, EYP, and State Security. He claimed that the
three agencies had ceased speaking to each other under the previous

ATHENS 00001643 003 OF 004


government, but he was determined to create cross-agency ties
through personnel appointments and this new formal consultative
mechanism.

-- Fifth, Chrysochoidis announced that he intends to
create a new agency along the lines of a "mini-FBI" devoted to
combating organized crime, including cybercrime and trafficking,
that will consist of 100 officers, including economists,
scientists, and computer specialists, and that will be part of the
Attica Security structure. Chrysochoidis said that the Greek side
will need U.S. training to bring this agency up to the necessary
level of competence. In fact, he stated, Greece is open to all
forms of cooperation with the United States in security matters and
needs U.S. assistance to help it do so.



6. (C) The Ambassador replied that the United States would so all
that it could to help Greece. He noted as an example that the U.
S. side was ready to put a special agent and an analyst from DEA in
a potential new Greek task force on organized crime. He then asked
for Chrysochoidis' prediction on the nature of the annual
demonstrations -- and their anti-American orientation -- marking
the events of November 17, 1974. Chrysochoidis thanked the
Ambassador for his readiness to help his reorganization efforts and
said that he would be approaching appropriate elements in the
months ahead with specific requests for help. Turning to the
annual November 17 demonstration, he predicted that it would be
relatively quiet this year. Instead, anarchists and terrorists
instead are gearing up for violence in December to mark the
anniversary of the nation-wide riots in 2008 that occurred after
the accidental shooting on December 6 of a 15-year-old by a
policeman. According to information that the police have
collected, Greek anarchists are inviting their "brothers" in other
European countries, chiefly Spain, Italy, France, and Germany, to
come to Greece and engage in violent acts. For this reason,
Chrysochoidis declared, the MCP is formulating a plan that will
ensure a safe environment in December.



7. (C) The ambassador thanked Chrysochoidis for the resources that
the MCP devotes to keeping the embassy safe and repeated American
readiness to help the MCP with its reorganization. He suggested
that Chrysochoidis might find it useful to read a 2-page summary of
a longer study coordinated with the State Department about the
fires in Greece. The DCM added that the embassy could provide a
copy on a CD of the U.S. National Response Plan that had been
revised following Hurricane Katrina, since parts of it might be
useful to Chrysochoidis in considering structural changes within
the MCP.



8. (C) Following on the Ambassador's meeting, the DCM met with MCP
Deputy Minister Spyros Vougias on November 13. Vougias stated that
his portfolio will deal mainly with migration issues, and road
safety. Vougias admitted that Greece "could be better" on
anti-trafficking, and foreshadowed plans to create a division
within the MFA to coordinate Greek efforts across their
interagency, which the DCM welcomed. The DCM laid out for Vougias
how the Embassy is set up to work on law enforcement and terrorism
issues with Greece, and urged Vougias to ensure that Greek officers
who received U.S. training were placed in assignments where their
training could be put to use. On immigration issues, Vougias
commented that the MOJ and MOI needed to address the asylum issue,
as Greece's 0.1% granting rate was "too low;" he lumped immigration
with the economy and unemployment as among Greece's biggest
challenges. He was not overly concerned about November 17
demonstrations, but stressed that the government would not let a
repeat of last December's riots happen again this December. The
DCM highlighted the January visit of a DS/ATA Anti-Terrorism
Assistance assessment team to Greece, noting our hopes for close
cooperation with the government; Vougias agreed the visit would be

ATHENS 00001643 004 OF 004


productive, and looked forward to it. He stressed his intent to
improve professional education for the rank-and-file police, and
was frank in describing the double standard under which Greek
police operate: "society wants police everywhere, but then
criticizes the police when they act." In closing, the DCM assured
Vougias that VWP preparations were complete, and the last question
was how Greece and the U.S. could agree to roll out this positive
news.
Speckhard
 
     
 
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