HomeVoulgarakis 200615-06-2006: The Minister of Public Order gives an interview to Deutsche Welle

15-06-2006: The Minister of Public Order gives an interview to Deutsche Welle

Munich, 10/6/2006

G. PAPPAS: Here you are, dear Minister, in Munich, right at the point of going back to Greece after you have had a series of meetings and contacts in Munich, with the Bavarian Minister of Home Affairs Mr. Gunter Beckstein and having watched the Football Cup opening ceremony and the first match yesterday.

In your contacts with the Bavarian Minister of Home Affairs and in your other meetings, did you detect any particular concern on behalf of the German authorities related to the security of the World Football Cup and the possibility of a terrorist attack?

V. POLYDORAS: Let me first of all, Mr. Pappas, express my joy of being interviewed at the historic broadcasting corporation of Deutsche Welle, which means so much to us in terms of democracy and responsible information. Secondly, let me state how honored I feel to be the guest of Mr. Beckstein, the Bavarian Minister of Home Affairs and Public Order. I was received to the most extended degree of hospitality and courtesy, which is a token of the excellent quality in the bilateral relations between Bavaria and Greece and in consequence, between Germany and Greece.

In the third place and in relation to your question, the dominant mood in my meetings was that of gratitude  if you don’t mind me using such exaggerated terminology  towards Greece, the Ministry of Public Order and the Hellenic Police Force for the know-how offered by Greece to Bavaria and to Mr. Beckstein in order for them to host the World Football Cup. Such experience of ours has derived from our successful Olympic Games. A successful Football Cup is naturally a safe Football Cup and this brings me to your last and precise question on the fear of an attack. Let me tell you that my feeling from all these meetings was that of a German self-confidence that they have done their best. Both Mr. Beckstein and the Chief of the Police Force told me that they have done their duty and this is why they feel safe and sure of themselves. What lies behind their train of thought and their policy regarding the measures of security and order is 72 never again.

G. PAPPAS: Minister, are Greece and Germany among the countries included in the Marti report on the controversial CIA flights in Europe, transporting terrorism suspects? The Germans have admitted that at least one employee of their intelligence services knew about the Mazri case. What did the Greek authorities know about the CIA flights?

V. POLYDORAS: They knew nothing, to start with. Then, we would like to see what exactly Greece reportedly has committed according to this report. I believe that the report mentions a somehow indirect facilitation on behalf of Greece, in other words, our country being used as a transit station for such air transport. In that case, the first argument that naturally rises is that when a country facilitates an aircraft providing transit facilities, the country does not know the content of the cargo or what exactly is it that such aircraft transports.

To be more precise, one can facilitate a flight and I am saying that without being a Civil Aviation or Air Navigation experts. So, we would like to delve into this matter further and answer in a more systematic and responsible way. Nevertheless, that would be our first reaction. What exactly are they saying? What exactly is the report’s point of reference? If the air transit is the issue, well, this can take place for thousands of planes and one does not perform the controls according to what is provided in the international air navigation standards.

In consequence, within one thousand cargo planes that made a stop-over to a Greek airport for fuel or other purposes, one cannot know the content of each and every one of them, pursuant to the law and the international conventions. We can provide most of the answers when the related investigation reaches some results; we have to see which aircrafts were there, how many of them were there. Mind you, there may have been one or two or three or even there may have been a coincidence of such aircrafts passing by without any cargo at all, we do not know that.

G. PAPPAS: The case of the Pakistani kidnappings in Greece was reportedly related to the general framework of the CIA flights. You have informed the Parliament in detail this week. I would like to ask you when shall we fully know who is behind the Pakistani kidnappings case?

V. POLYDORAS: We hope and we wish  and we are fairly sure as well  that the Greek justice shall investigate the matter to the finest detail, in order to produce this precise result. I have interrogated our Intelligence Service and I can guarantee that the National Intelligence Service of Greece did not have any involvement whatsoever. There was no participation or involvement of the NIS or of the State authorities in this case. This is what the Justice authorities are investigating. We have to come up with a solid base of accusations based on solid proof in the first place and then we have to find out who participated in this. This is our objective and we will support the judicial authorities in their work.

G. PAPPAS: Mr. Minister, are you worried with the image provided by the Greek law enforcement authorities in relation to the foreigners criminal groups. You have personally referred to Pakistani mafias that may be behind the kidnappings case. The impression created there is on one hand, that foreign criminal groups are active in Greece and on the other, that major criminal can escape just like that from the Korydallos high security prison. Are you not worried with the image of the Greek authorities due to these events?

V. POLYDORAS: No, I am not worried. Let me first of all make an intermediary comment, since I am accused by the communication of the Revolutionary Fight as well, that kidnappings are the Pakistani sport. This is all contradictory and cannot be historically proven. History teaches us that cricket and hockey are Pakistani sports and indeed, some claim that hockey was born in Pakistan. Anyway, I have filed 10 lawsuits and another 3 the day before yesterday, a total of 13 lawsuits that have on point in common. There is a similarity in terms of persons, Pakistani nationals with Pakistani nationals, since we can only talk about kidnapping, wanted or not by the victim, only in the case of a woman.

Apart from that, there are some similarities in the modus operandi, in the way the crime was committed in the case of such kidnappings. In any case, I am not worried about the Police Force. Statistics  and all this will be made public very shortly  provide a great deal of data to the Police’s credit. 2, 3 spectacular cases unfortunately catch the limelight and other very important events are ignored, for instance, the case of the robbery that was dealt with yesterday. We have an armed robbery with shooting involved at the Eurobank branch of Patissia, by foreigners. The Chief paid a visit to the two fortunately lightly injured police officers. We are concerned with the foreign criminal groups and i think we are working in a serious way. Wehavebeencrackingdownlotsofthem. IthinkthePolicearedoingwell. IamnotdefendingthePolicebyprofessionandindeed, IthinkthesameofthePolicefromtheChryssochoidisyears, whichnailed November17. This Police Force is rising and is getting better and better. Weareinagoodcourseofaction. Iamverysatisfiedwiththewaythecrimescommittedbyforeignersare dealt with, regardless of whether those foreign national are freely or imposingly sheltered in our country.

Our General Staff works 15 hours a day, our officers, our agents at the Police Departments, at the patrolling squads, at the traffic division, at the immediate response centers are working in a very serious way. Our suppression squads, the heroic MAT Division have become material for boxing training, they are being hit with iron and wood instruments and then they are being negatively commented. I would like to take advantage of this valid floor and this valid microphone that you are providing me with, to ask why such unilateral approach?

Not a single soul says that they are defending themselves, just like toy soldiers that do not move or talk. They do not laugh, or maybe they do, hidden in their helmets, just like toy soldiers. These are our boys. Why are they being assaulted with wooden instruments, with stones and iron bars by the divisions that march in each demonstration? And then, commentators come out to say that the police was challenging everybody. Well, it did not challenge anyone. The police force is standing still with the MAT Division right in front. We are not fighting anyone.We are not fighting against any person, any team, any group of demonstrators; we are just standing there to provide boxing training material for them, in our attempt to save the life and the property of citizens and to safeguard social peace. We will be successful in our endeavor.

G. PAPPAS: You have spoken about social peace and you have already referred to my next question. We have witness terrorism somehow re-emerging in Greece recently, since your colleague Mr. Voulgarakis was attacked. Do you think this means that a new generation of terrorists wants to make a come-back, is a new circle of terrorism being opened right now?

V. POLYDORAS: We are seriously examining this possibility. This is the 11th or the 12th assault, if I am not mistaken, by the two organizations that declare responsibility for such unlawful activity. I am neither overestimating nor underrating things. We collect and assess the evidence in a methodic and serious way, without any kind of panic. We will shortly have the lab results regarding the Lykavittos incident, in Doxapatri and Sarantapihou streets. When we obtain the laboratory results, we will make a total assessment of all the material. With new conclusions come new results. I do not overestimate and I do not underrate.

G. PAPPAS: One last question, Minister. Lately, the Alex case has been attracting the limelight. Alex is an eleven-year old boy of Russian origin and Greek pupils in his class have confessed that they killed him. If such racist act had happened in Germany  and I am saying that because you are being interviewed in Germany right now  it would have immediately become known to the entire world. This case has not been successfully investigated yet, in spite of the fact that it dates back to February, when the first accusations were made. Is this due to the deficient action of the police or to the cover-up that may have been offered by the local society?

V. POLYDORAS: It is neither one thing nor the other. Here is the real series of the facts, Mr. Pappas. There is no racism issue. Even if we assume that the children’s confessions do provide a credible lead, well, they do not form a unilateral group putting off or attacking foreigners, thus giving ground to racist behavior. If they are telling the truth, they are a children’s gang composed of three Greek and two foreign children, having attacked another child of foreign descent. This of course is the case if what they testified is true. I cannot establish the link with racism, since there is not fight between nationals and foreigners. Perpetrators have mingled.

In consequence, no racist or xenophobic behavior can be traced here. Let us now come to the issue of crime committed by children. Indeed, our society has become more aggressive, this is a sociological phenomenon that is shocking us, it makes us shiver out of concern and fear and we are worried as to where it shall lead us. Iliketobelievethatthisisnot a general phenomenon. I do not think that the schools of Athens or the Greek countryside are caves housing mobs, as some like to put it, nor do I think that a war of gangs is being waged in the school yard. Things are not like this. I like to believe that all this is an isolated incident. We will check on that, this is a deeper problem, a social problem. And as to the police and its action, the case was never closed. The police was naturally disorientated due to the disappearance and kidnapping allegations. Nevertheless, the police examine all possible versions, related to violence and crime. The police must be heavy in its response, so that it can react in a methodic way. We are closely following everything, light will definitely be shed; it is not possible for these children to have testified in such a coinciding and uniform manner. We will certainly find where Alex is, either alive or  God forbid  not. We will shed light to this case and the public prosecutor is in charge. The results of this preliminary investigation are spectacular, shocking, impressive; we are all watching in awe little children hiding the secret and covering up one for the other. If such testimonies are true, at a later stage some adult must have made arrangements as to Alex or as to coordinating the children’s answers.

G. PAPPAS: Allow me to say that the victim is a foreigner in this particular case and this paints a wholly different picture.

V. POLYDORAS: I have already answered to that, stating that the group is composed by children of different origins. I do not know, maybe there is an additional dimension here, with the kid being a foreigner, but mind you, it may also have been hit by a foreigner. I understand your question and I, in my capacity of Minister in this country, intend to state that there are no racist or xenophobic phenomena in our country. Wearemainlyhospitableand we have established a process of assimilation. From the political and social point of view, we take all the necessary measures to provide equality and equity, to take care and educate the children. There are schools in Patissia, Liossia and elsewhere in Attica, in which foreigners are the majority. We have reached a satisfactory level, as to the reception, care and behavior towards foreigner children, not to mention that this is a huge charge for us.

We have more than a million foreigners, which means that we are currently bearing the weight of a 10% of our indigenous population of 10 million. I do not like the word foreigner; let me quote the sacred words on Holy Saturday: bring the foreigner to me. Joseph appears before Pontius and tells him bring the foreigner to me. This is a wonderful and very poetic verse, both in terms of form and content. We are receiving them with love, care, administrative aid and provisions as to their hospitalization or training. Nevertheless, it is of paramount importance to plan a European policy on immigration and illegal immigration as soon as possible. This is matter of order.

G. PAPPAS: Thank you very much, Mr. Minister
V. POLYDORAS: Thank you, Mr. Pappas.

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