HomeVoulgarakis 200517-03-2005: Speech by the Minister of Public Order at the Council of Europe (Warsaw, 17-18/03/2005)

17-03-2005: Speech by the Minister of Public Order at the Council of Europe (Warsaw, 17-18/03/2005)


Athens, 17/03/2005


Public Order Minister, Mr. George Voulgarakis gave a speech today on fighting terrorism and organized crime, in the framework of the Interior and Public Order Ministers` Conference of the Council of Europe Member States.

Mr. Voulgarakis attended the meeting as a key-note speaker, responding to the invitation of Mr. Terry DAVIS, General Secretary of the Council of Europe.

The basic contents of the Minister`s speech on “Measures to effectively combat terrorism and organized crime” are presented hereafter:

  • I do not think there can be any argument whatsoever against the need to fight terrorism and organized crime. However, the way these phenomena are dealt with often leads to controversy, which, indeed, is a matter of major concern for democratic governments, which come across a tragic dilemma: either deal with terrorism in accordance with the principles of democracy, respect of human rights and legitimacy (in which case the fight will largely be inefficient) or proceed to a radical crack down (in which case, anti-democratic action may take place). We fear that in both cases the victim will be Democracy itself.
  • Our experience up to now has led us to the strong belief that in order to deal successfully with terrorism at the national level, it is more than necessary to establish a set of legal, political, economic and social measures based on the following parameters:

-set up a clear framework to define terrorism and its main forms of expression
-recognize and mark connections between terrorism and organized crime
-adjust the national legal framework on the basis of international commitments but also of each country`s special conditions
-create an effective coordination and cooperation framework in which the jointly competent national authorities and agencies in the field of internal security will be called upon to work
-secure necessary resources and infrastructure
-enhance international cooperation between law enforcement authorities, judicial authorities and financial crime authorities
-develop national plans of communication and mass media management, as far as dealing with terrorism and organized crime is concerned
-set up national tools of solidarity and human aid, possibly involving help from foreign countries in cases of crisis management situations.

  • The measures that countries put into place, should aim not only at preventing but also at efficiently facing the consequences from a terrorist attack. In particular, measures should mainly focus on the following goals:

-creating and enhancing appropriate institutions and processes
-cutting off terrorist or criminal organizations from their financial sources
-protecting major infrastructure of paramount importance
-protecting transport systems
-increasing state mechanism readiness in terrorist acts
-seeking mutual cooperation and both-ways communication with the public.

  • Cooperation between law enforcement agencies, judicial and financial authorities, departments of health and civil protection is of paramount importance.
  • Cooperation and communication between the national authorities and the citizens proves to be just as important in cases of terrorist threats. The lack of communication and objective information for the public usually leads to panic situations or mass hysteria. On the contrary, timely information limits the impact and the casualties in case of a terrorist attack. In order to establish a smooth communication channel, it is necessary to have excellent cooperation between competent authorities and the mass media.
  • Greece bears an increased sense of responsibility towards its partners and intents to comply with its international commitments. That is why our country seeks to contribute to this world effort made by competent authorities at the international, regional and bilateral level.

Even before September 11th, Greece had amended the Hellenic Penal Code, including provisions to prevent and crack down terrorism and organized crime.

Furthermore, Greece has adopted the European Arrest Warrant and has signed all 12 International Treaties to fight terrorism.

Besides close cooperation and various initiatives undertaken by Greece within the European Union, it is equally important to expand our possibilities of cooperation, reaching out to the greater area of South-Eastern Europe, the Adriatic and the Ionian Sea, so as to set up information channels and achieve quick information exchange on illegal activities.

Greece has also signed up till now 21 Police Cooperation Bilateral Agreements with many countries.

  • Last but not least is the fact that we have organized the Olympic Games in an environment of absolute security, which proves that we can constitute a core of consensus and cooperation with the citizens, without acting to the detriment of human rights and fundamental liberties.

The Minister also mentioned the issue of globalization at the end of his speech, pointing out that:

  • In this globalization era, there is no doubt that the supporters of democracy, free exchange and international cooperation will win, coming out with more power at their hands. The more power they gain, though, the greater the reaction will be from all those who are loosing from the globalization process, a process that needs to become a reality in the exact sense of the term for the whole world. If this does not occur, those who hold the power in our planet will also be held responsible for the “demonization” of any religion or people. In this case, we will face security problems never seen before. In this way, unsolved problems of remote regions will soon become interior problems of our countries. That is why we must face all matters related to minorities, poverty, health, underdevelopment, human rights etc, with caution, perspicacity, sensibility and efficiency.

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