ATHENS, March 16 (AFP) - Eight Greek cabinetministers, the chief Athens Olympics organiser, as wellas the country’s top policeman and chief spy were takingpart in Olympic security exercises Tuesday.
The Public Order Ministry said the officials weretested by simulated emergencies as part of Hercules’Shield 2004, a two-week Greek-US security exerciseinvolving 2,000 security personnel.
The exercise, also involving security experts fromBritain, Germany, Israel and Canada, contains severalscenarios, ranging from kidnappings to attacks withchemical and radiological agents.
Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis, Defence MinisterSpilios Spiliotopoulos, Olympics chief organiser GiannaAngelopoulos-Daskalaki, government spokesman TheodorosRoussopoulos, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos,Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis, Justice MinisterAnastassios Papaligouras, Merchant Marine MinisterManolis Kefaloyiannis, police chief Fotis Nassiakos andintelligence chief Pavlos Apostolidis as well asOlympics security chief Vassilios Konstantinidis wereinvolved in Tuesday’s drill.
The gathering is the first session of a so-calledOlympic Security Coordination Council, the Games’superior crisis management body, which will functionfrom July 1 to October 4.
It is very positive that solutions to every problemare found in the speediest way. Cooperation continues tobe impeccable,'' said Angelopoulos-Daskalaki on her wayto the gathering after meeting Greek Prime MinisterCostas Karamanlis. Greece will give an unparalleled answer to all thosethat dared to doubt her,’’ she said of reportscriticising the state of security and construction.
Last Friday Greece called on NATO to provide backupfor surveillance and eventual chemical and biologicalattacks during the Games.
The Greek authorities are leaving nothing to chanceand are preparing the biggest security operation in thehistory of the Olympics.
More than 50,000 members of the security forces andemergency services will be directly involved inprotecting the athletes, officials and visitors.
The total cost for Greece will be more than 650million euros (820 million dollars) - an Olympic record.
A specially formed Olympics advisory group of sevencountries - Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Spain,Israel and the US - meets monthly to provide adviceabout security measures. Russia also provides expertise.