Cablegate: Embassy Athens
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DE RUEHTH #0057/01 0291534
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O R 291533Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1420
INFO EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ATHENS 000057 NOFORN SIPDIS AMEMBASSY ANKARA PASS TO AMCONSUL ADANA AMEMBASSY ASTANA PASS TO AMCONSUL ALMATY AMEMBASSY BERLIN PASS TO AMCONSUL DUSSELDORF AMEMBASSY BERLIN PASS TO AMCONSUL LEIPZIG AMEMBASSY BELGRADE PASS TO AMEMBASSY PODGORICA AMEMBASSY HELSINKI PASS TO AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG AMEMBASSY ATHENS PASS TO AMCONSUL THESSALONIKI AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PASS TO AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PASS TO AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG E.O. 12958: DECL: 2035/01/29 TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER KTIP SNAR PINR SMIG KCOR KCRM KHLS GR
CLASSIFIED BY: Daniel V. Speckhard, Ambassador, State, EXEC; REASON: 1.4(B), (C), (D) 1. (C)
SUMMARY: During a 45-minute meeting on January 22 Greek Minister of Citizen Protection Chrysochoidis provided the ambassador with a status report of his ambitious plan to reorganize and energize all of Greece’s civilian security agencies. The Hellenic Coast Guard will be renamed and reorganized by April along the model of the U.S. Coast Guard to focus on maritime border and port security. The Greek National Intelligence Service will be completely overhauled via a draft law that is being drawn up. Within the Hellenic National Police a new agency will be created and staffed with 100 new hires to work on cyber crime and organized crime. The police know the identities of most of the members of Greece’s domestic terrorist groups, but lack the evidence to arrest and prosecute them. Chrysochoidis embraced the ambassador’s proposal to create a local working group on counterterrorism between the embassy and the ministry and welcomed training from the U.S. side for all of the ministry’s agencies as they underwent far-reaching reform. END SUMMARY.
2. (C) On January 22 Ambassador Speckhard met for 45 minutes with the Greek Minister of Citizen Protection, Michalis Chrysochoidis. This was the third in a series of meetings by the ambassador to hear from senior Greek officials about the ongoing reorganization of Greece’s security, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies under the umbrella of the Ministry of Citizen Protection (MCP), which was formed after the election of the center-left Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) government in October 2009. This meeting was intended to obtain a status report on the ambitious plan that Chrysochoidis discussed with the ambassador at their previous meeting on November 12, 2009 (Ref A). The meeting was held in Chrysochoidis’ office in the headquarters of the MCP. The ambassador was accompanied by the DCM, the RAS chief, Legatt, and the ICE chief, while Chrysochoidis was unaccompanied.
3. (C) Chrysochoidis began the meeting by noting that he had just returned from Toledo, Spain, where he had been with the Secretary of Homeland Security on 21 January. He said that the two main issues that he had taken away from the conference were the challenges for EU countries of internally coordinating authorities and sharing intelligence and of cooperating effectively with the United States in counterterrorist initiatives. He remarked that it was pointless for each country to amass large amounts of information and intelligence but not to share that body of data to produce results.
4. (C) The ambassador said that in the two previous days he had held meetings with the commandant of the Hellenic Coast Guard (Ref B) and the chief of the Hellenic National Police (HNP) (Ref C) and had noted their focus on creating an atmosphere of interagency cooperation. He asked Chrysochoidis for an update on how his reorganization under the MCP was proceeding and how successfully were agencies cooperating inside of the MCP. The ambassador informed Chrysochoidis that he had proposed to HNP Chief Ikonomou the creation of a local MCP-Embassy working group on counterterrorism, so that the U.S. side could best reinforce and support the Greek side’s efforts.
5. (C) Regarding the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG), Chrysochoidis said that his goal was to organize its functions around its natural missions, namely protection of Greece’s maritime borders and ports. At the end of January he will propose a bill in the parliament to create a new Coast Guard, whose changed role will be reflected in its new name. Currently its name in Greek means Harbor Corps (limeniko soma), but henceforth its name in Greek really will mean Coast Guard (aktofylaki). It will be modeled very closely on the U.S. Coast Guard and oriented to fighting crime and protecting Greece’s maritime borders. Chrysochoidis predicted that the new HCG would be up and running by April.
6. (C/NF) Chrysochoidis severely criticized the state of EYP, Greece’s domestic security and intelligence service. He said bluntly, “EYP is nothing.” It does not serve its mission of protecting Greece and in fact is dangerous to national security because of its many shortcomings, not the least of which is a unionize d labor force. As a result, Chrysochoidis declared, he intends to “collapse and rebuild it” via a draft law that is in the process of being drawn up.
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7. (C) As for the HNP, he repeated his many public comments that Greece’s police force is not up to task of safeguarding society. As a result, he is restructuring it and trying to instill in it a new attitude toward its duties. Part of that drives includes creation of a new agency to fight cyber crime, organized crime, etc. Vacancy notices already have gone out for 100 new positions to be filled by economists, computer specialists, etc., who will bring new, modern skills to the HNP. These 100 new hires will be merged with other officers and located in a new building, so that a fresh modern agency can be built. Chrysochoidis announced that this plan would be rolled out by the end of February, so that it can begin work in March.
8. (SBU) Chrysochoidis said of the Firefighting Service, which now falls under the MCP, that it has enjoyed good cooperation with U.S. counterparts but that he was open to all suggestions about increasing collaboration and training.
9. (C/NF) On domestic terrorism, Chrysochoidis said that the police know the identities of almost all the members of the current terrorist-anarchist groups, but they lack the evidentiary basis for arresting and imprisoning them. He cited the recent example of a bombing on Syngrou Avenue, saying that the police know who carried it out but do not have the concrete evidence to move against them. He said that the great challenge for the police is collecting the information necessary to prosecute terrorists. He repeated earlier claims (Ref C) that there are links between some domestic terrorist groups and the Middle East, including Iran. Chrysochoidis expressed optimism that if his newly invigorated counterterrorist teams at EYP and HNP did their work well, especially their technical collection operations, they would succeed in wrapping up all of the main terrorist groups in the first half of 2010.
10. (C/NF) Chrysochoidis expressed full support for the ambassador’s proposal for a local counterterrorist working group consisting of HNP, EYP, and HCG on the Greek side and FBI, DEA-ICE, and RAS on the American side. He said that he would call the embassy in the near future to get the idea started. He stated forcefully that he wanted outstanding cooperation with the United States and that the MCP did not want to have any secrets from the American side when it came to work against terrorists. He welcomed training across the MCP’s agencies as each underwent fundamental reform.
11. (SBU) Chrysochoidis had just started to respond to the ambassador’s question about Greek work against human trafficking, especially child labor and the sex industry, when he received a call that summoned him to the prime minister’s office. As he was getting ready to leave, he did say that Greece was taking active steps to deal with the problems associated with illegal immigration, including passage of a law on citizenship that would grant legal status to many immigrants. In addition, Greek authorities were trying to end the demand for smuggling rings by closing the exit points to Europe, including the ports of Patra and Igoumenitsa. Greece also wanted to draw a line in the eastern Aegean, but needed the support of Turkey.