May 24-26, 2004, Athens 2004 Olympic Organizing Committee Conference Center
SUBJECT: “International Conference on Olympic Games security issues”
Ladies and gentlemen,
In inaugurating the sessions of the international conference for Olympic Games security, let me welcome you to our country and also thank you for your response to our invitation.
We view this international conference as a very significant and crucial activity of our planning. The level of participation, its international standing and the period in which the conference is being held -the last, in fact, before the Olympic Games- make it even more important.
We look forward to such international cooperation between experts, something that will allow our planners, who have been working systematically for the past three years, to outline the primary aspects of our Security and Operations Planning that falls within your scope of expertise.
Because of the global nature of the Games, we aim to exchange know-how and gain from your advisory support, in order further improve our planning in the time remaining.
The primary result we envision from this conference is to allow personnel that will work closely together this summer in the sensitive field of security to get to know each other better. Essentially, you will be briefed on who is responsible for each specific issue that may arise during the Olympic Games, and where you`ll turn to for a solution. On the other hand, we also will get to know and work with the people who are responsible for the security of their national Olympic delegations.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In assuming the hosting of the 2004 Olympic Games, our country has guaranteed, vis-ΰ-vis the international community, an absolute secure and peaceful environment.
Based on our principal strategic direction, Olympic security is the result of proper planning; superb training and excellent coordination of all involved parties under the auspices of a joint command, with clear-cut roles and responsibilities at all levels.
On the basis of an initial and supreme assessment that there is no margin for cutting corners or delays when dealing with Olympic security, all the parameters have been studied; developments in the international security environment have been taken into consideration; threats and risks are constantly updated, as are the primary and alternative methods for dealing with them.
International cooperation, the convergence of peoples and governments beyond antagonism and rivalries – as an urgent global answer and defense against global terrorism – ranks as a powerful shield of protection against these new and asymmetrical threats.
It was within the framework of this strategy, which is the cornerstone of our planning, that Olympic Security Planning has developed and is now in its final phase of completion. The period until the Games will be dedicated to any final adjustments for the maximum protection of the Olympics.
We now have operational plans and decision-making procedures up to the highest level of command, in other words, we have the ability to intensify measures depending on the nature and seriousness of a threat, and this ability is inter-connected at all levels, from the lowest to the highest.
We adapted our security planning with the Olympic Games` operations through close and very positive cooperation with the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC).
We now have a reaction mechanism for crisis situations that allows us, even in terms of worst-case threats, to be present, with immediate coordination, as we achieved a maximum degree of trust and cooperation between us at the domestic level, something that is clear-cut and does not allow for miscommunication or possible misunderstandings.
I say this because, as you know, when dealing with large command structures one of the most significant problems faced by managers is hierarchy, bureaucracy, co-responsibilities and overlapping jurisdictions.
I believe that we have emerged from this major phase, over the past few months that we have observed, with great success.
Therefore, we have defined roles at the tactical, operational and strategic levels, as well as in the field of inter-ministerial cooperation under the coordination of the Ministry of Public Order.
We are cooperating closely in the sector of information gathering, not just with the countries that are members of the Olympic Advisory Group, but also with international organizations and intelligence agencies from around the world. This is a crucial matter, a valuable matter in terms of the fact that it does not have a price; no one can purchase it. The most valuable commodity in our time, as you well know, is information. The correct evaluation of information leads to assured results.
We committed more of our country`s resources than another country with Greece`s characteristics may have allocated. We have, therefore, made use of the maximum amount of resources, which we are allocating with the substantial contribution of the Ministry of National Defense, and at this point, I would like to thank them publicly. In other words, we have ensured the maximum of our capabilities and we have adapted this into our planning.
We have formulated a specific strategy for protecting the Olympic environment.
We are placing an emphasis on all Olympic facilities and to whatever else we consider as Olympics-related, and in reality, with the way things have developed, we are leaning towards considering all of Greece a “venue”, as a kind of sports village -and I believe that this provides the measure of seriousness with which we are handling this entire issue.
We have planned a coordinated and unified strategic and political framework for the communications management of security issues, under the aegis of the Ministry of State as well as with the participation of the Ministry of Public Order and, of course, with the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC) and other co-responsible entities.
Finally, we have included international support in our planning as a tremendously important source of assistance, in case of dealing with a crisis and the management of repercussions that may exceed our resources. Moreover, as the basis of this strategy, Greece has officially asked for the assistance of the Atlantic Alliance, with cooperation to tailor and adapt this support within the Olympic security planning under way.
I would like at this point to make it clear that we -and this is a message towards the international community- will in no way ever place people and the hosting of the Games, of course, at any risk whatsoever.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This international conference proves, in practice, our active and harmonious cooperation, one that can only result in positive consequences in our joint effort for security of the Olympic Games.
We are in the final stretch two (2) months before the Games. The reverse countdown has already begun. Olympic security planning has reached a level where its advanced capabilities are now clear-cut and acknowledged by all. The intensive rates that we are following for improvements ahead of the Olympic Games offers a unique guarantee that everyone hosted in our country will feel an absolute sense of security.
Greece is a small country, however, Olympic security is not a matter of quantitative, but of qualitative characteristics. The reality is that we have the ability, the vigorous volition as well as the support of the international community to host the best and safest Olympic Games.
Let me wish every success to the conference`s sessions