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AHI Response To Unfair Criticism Of Greece By The National Commission On Terrorism
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: JONATHAN CLARKE
June 27, 2000 No. 35/2000 (202) 785-8430

AHI Response To Unfair Criticism Of Greece By The National Commission On Terrorism

In a letter of June 27, 2000 to Senator Jesse Helms, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the American Hellenic Institute set out its reasons for rejecting the report by the National Commission on Terrorism as biased and unfair. A copy of the letter may be found on the AHI website.

AHI's starting premise is that it yields to no one in its support of proper law enforcement and in the condemnation of terrorism, international or domestic. AHI previously expressed its strongest abhorrence and condemnation of the murder in Athens on June 8, 2000 of British Defense Attaché Brigadier Stephen Saunders. AHI welcomed the Greek government's firm commitment to bring the perpetrators of this terrible crime to justice and urged the Greek government to spare no efforts to bring about a speedy arrest of those responsible.

With regard to the Commission's adverse references to Greece, however, Greek Americans reject this approach as totally unfair. Greeks have been the main victims of the assaults by the November 17 terrorists and all feel that the quicker they are made to pay for their crimes, the better. What is upsetting, however, is that the report seemed to single Greece out, citing only the negative in Greece's record and omitting Greece's record of full and detailed cooperation with the United States. In testimony, the Commission's Chairman admitted that he failed to consult Ambassador Nicholas Burns who has been in the forefront of efforts to strengthen U.S.-Greece cooperation on terrorism.

Examples of this ongoing cooperation are the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), between the U.S. and Greece on police cooperation, signed in May 1999, accelerated movement toward the signing of a Police Cooperation Memorandum focusing on counter-terrorism, and the increased cooperation between the FBI and the Greek police authorities. Seen against this background, it is clear that the report's proposal that Greece should be designated as a country that is "not cooperating fully" is totally unjustified. Ambassador Burns stated on June 5, 2000 that "Greece is a friendly country, a NATO ally, and we are cooperating excellently."

The Commission's language on Greece is misleading as it fails to state the true facts about the substantial and detailed U.S.-Greece cooperation.

The letter concludes by forwarding an article in the Raleigh News and Observer of June 11, 2000 written by the paper's columnist Rob Christensen following a trip to Greece and an article on terrorism by Bruce Shapiro in Salon Magazine. These articles provide much needed perspective to the discussion of this subject.