Truth in Media Global Watch Bulletins

logolittle.jpg (9114 bytes)

TiM GW Bulletin 2000/6-11

June 27, 2000

Mayor LaGuardia and “Balkans Requiem,” Plus...

Fleecing Greece: The uro vs. the Cross

Burns’ Ire on Fire Burns U.S. Diplomat’s Cool; APPENDIX A: Phantom Terror

FROM PHOENIX, ARIZONABALKAN AFFAIRS


HEADLINES

New York                  1. Mayor LaGuardia and “Balkans Requiem”

Athens                       2. Fleecing Greece: The uro vs. the Cross

New York                 3. Burns’ Ire on Fire Burns U.S. Diplomat’s Cool

New York                 4. APPENDIX A: Phantom Terror

-------------

1. Mayor LaGuardia and “Balkans Requiem”

NEW YORK, May 24, 1939 - As the New York City mayor, Fiorello LaGuardia, opened the Yugoslav pavilion at the World Fair in New York on May 24, 1939, he said:

"The people of Yugoslavia are generous, kind and peace-loving.  Whenever there is trouble in the Balkans, it will come from without, not from within.  Let the strong and big nations leave the Balkans alone, and peace will prevail there."

Of course, the big powers never do leave the Balkans alone for long.  Which is why there are always wars in the Balkans.  For which the Balkans people, and not the big powers, are always blamed.  By the big powers, of course.

“Our goal must be to debalkanize the Balkans,'” Bill Clinton said on June 3 in Aahen, Germany, as the American president received the Charlemagne award for building the “peace” in Europe, a year after bombing the Balkans to smithereens (see “Toward a Globalist European Empire”).

“Debalkanize the Balkans?”  Especially after waging war on it.  Dream, fool, dream… This Georgetown/Oxford scholar evidently hasn’t learned a thing from reading history - the end of the Ottoman Empire; the Austro-Hungarian Empire; the German Kaiser; the Third Reich...  Not even from Stalin whom Yugoslavia gave the boot in 1948.

If only the graves of empires could sing.  A “Balkans Requiem” would produce the world’s loudest choral crescendo. 

LaGuardia heard it.  But not the tone-deaf would-be emperors.  Theirs is to do and die… Ours is to explain why.

------------

2. Fleecing Greece: The uro vs. the Cross

ATHENS, June 25 - Some people are torn between good and evil.  Others are having to choose between traditions and modernity.  Yet others are forced to decide if material wealth is worth the price of personal dignity.  All such people feel as if they are between a rock and a hard place.  Which is the beauty of life.  Choices, choices…

Enter Greece 2000… an Olympic-size battlefield where the mighty uro - representing Globalism and Nihilism, is facing off against the Orthodox cross - symbolizing Christianity and Hellenism. 

If the uro wins in the long run, a Fleece-Greece Feast by the Globalist Beast is sure to follow, just as it has in so many other countries around the world.  If the cross prevails in the end, deep fissures within the European “Union” will become discernible even to the most gullible of New World Order “liberals.”

Text Box:  
Athens, June 21, 2000
The battle lines between materialism and spirituality/traditions were sharply drawn last Wednesday (June 21), when Orthodox church leaders gathered hundreds of thousands of protesters in the Athens streets, carrying Greek flags and crucifixes to protest against the uro.  Or to be more precise, against the Greek government’s decision to remove religious affiliation from state identity cards, a condition the European Union imposed before admitting Greece to the uro monetary union two days earlier (June 19).  It was the second mass demonstration this month.

"Resist, my dear Christians," Archbishop Christodoulos told the cheering crowds. "The forces of globalization and religious marginalization are out to get us."

Here’s an excerpt from a June 25 New York Times report about the contradictions and the tough choices the Greeks face:

“These days, Greece is a society tugged in opposite directions, as it tries to reconcile its past with its uncertain future. It is a member of the European Union and of NATO, yet it is also the poorest country in the European Union, and the only one where the Orthodox (Christian - TiM Ed.) faith is dominant. Though the country has placed its economic future in Europe, it is also a Balkan nation, bound by history and geography to ancient, unresolved conflicts and festering grievances… Church and state are not separate in Greece, where 97 percent of the population is Orthodox, and the constitution stipulates that the Orthodox religion is dominant. […]

Greece's loyalty to its allies was most sharply put to the test during the NATO bombing campaign in Serbia. The socialist government of Prime Minister Costas Simitis felt bound to support, or at least not inhibit, the allied bombing campaign, but 99 percent of Greek citizens fiercely opposed the war, prompted by sympathy for the Serbs, who share their faith, and a deeply ingrained anti-Americanism forged when Washington supported the military junta that ruled Greece from 1969 to 1974. […]

The church played a huge role in preserving Greek language and culture under the Ottoman Empire. It was one of the few institutions providing moral leadership during the Nazi occupation. Even Greeks who are not particularly religious are not dismissive of the church's role.

And perhaps emboldened by the popularity of its anti-NATO stance during the war in Kosovo, the church has asserted itself more strongly of late. The church is worried that the country plans to institute a separation of church and state, which among other things would drastically reduce church income.

The battle over the identity cards hit a nerve throughout (the) Greek society. More than 70 percent support adopting the euro, viewing it as a passport to economic growth and stability. Yet, in a recent poll, 40 percent said they supported the church's stance on identity cards. And that seems to be less about religious fervor than the tension between Greece's traditionalist past and modern future.”

For the rest of the New York Times report, check out http://www.nytimes.com/library/review/062500greek-euro-review.html

---

TiM Ed.: “…99 percent of Greek citizens fiercely opposed the war,” the Times now writes, possibly for the first time acknowledging how unpopular NATO’s war on Serbia has been in some alliance countries.  We can corroborate this from another TiM source, as some of you may have heard in the TiM editor’s lectures in Canada and Australia during the last six months.  Here’s an excerpt:

“Even some other NATO countries were also against the attack on Serbia. Greece, for example, which did not participate in the bombing campaign. I'm reminded of a story that a high-level military friend of mine was told by none other than NATO's Bomber-in-Chief, Gen. Wesley Clark.

After a meeting during the bombing campaign, Clark walked over to the Greek ambassador to NATO and said: "This must be difficult for you, as I know there is a lot of controversy in your country about what we are doing."

To which the Greek ambassador replied: "Oh, no, Gen. Clark. There is no controversy. We are all against it"!”

--------------

3. Burns’ Ire on Fire Burns U.S. Diplomat’s Cool

American Ambassador to Greece Lashes Out at Greek-Americans

NEW YORK, June 26 - A senior State Department official, in fact the American ambassador to Greece, Nicholas Burns, seems to have lost it when he read what some Greek-Americans think of Washington’s lecturing Greece on terrorism.  Setting Burns’ ire on fire so easily is certainly both revealing and familiar to this writer. 

Almost nine years ago, another American ambassador (Warren Zimmermann, then U.S. ambassador to Yugoslavia) also showed himself to be thin-skinned and irritated when this writer accused him and another member of his staff at the American Embassy in Belgrade of showing anti-Serb bias in their reports about the civil war that had broken out in Croatia. 

Birds of a feather flock together?  Undoubtedly.  And just think - back in 1991, George Bush was President and James Baker Secretary of State.  Now, Bill Clinton is president and Madeleine Albright is in charge of fogging things up at Foggy Bottom.  Which goes to show us how little difference it makes whether a Republican or a Democrat resides at the White House.

But back to Greece, and Burns’ ire on fire which burns the diplomat’s cool.  What seems to have set it off was a letter to the editor of USA TODAY by Ted Karakostas, a TiM reader whom some of you may recall from our TiM Readers’ Forums, published on June 15 under the headline, “Greece Hardly a Terrorist State.”  Here it is:

“Findings by the State Department and a congressional commission on terrorism asked Americans to suspend disbelief by portraying Greece as among the world's most dangerous anti-American terrorist countries, ("Foreign officials decry U.S. terrorism report," News, June 6).

Yet an examination of the facts reveals what is in effect a low-grade urban-terrorist problem common to most Western countries, rather than the terrorist Mecca misleadingly portrayed in the reports.

British commentator Colin Smith of the London newspaper The Independent noted on Sunday that terrorists in Greece "have a very low strike rate. In 25 years, its members have killed just 23 people. The IRA has been known to kill that many in a week."

Incredibly, the breaking of window panes and numerous other incidents of petty vandalism were included among the 146 acts of "terrorism" cited in the congressional report, and the State Department report mischaracterized a mentally disturbed woman's attempt to set off a mug-sized propane cooking canister at the entrance of the U.S. Consulate as an "attempt to firebomb the U.S. Consulate in Thessaloniki."

British Brigadier Stephen Saunders' murder in Athens, Greece, on June 8 and the deaths of four American officials during the past quarter-century are tragic exceptions to this undistinguished record of terrorism in Greece ("Assassins ambush British diplomat: Terrorist group is blamed for Greece killing," News, Friday, June 9).

Many have voiced concerns that the State Department may be using this highly implausible portrayal of Greece as a dangerous terrorist state to reprimand Greece for its outspoken opposition to NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999.

Politically motivated charges of terrorism undermine U.S. credibility worldwide and depreciate sincere U.S. concerns regarding terrorism. If our policymakers cry wolf too often, or try to exert untoward pressure on democratic allies through irresponsible accusations, our capacity to counter genuine terrorist threats will be compromised, and our foreign policy will sustain further damage.

Theodore G. Karakostas, associate, American Hellenic Media Project New York, N.Y.”

The above letter was a digest of an editorial titled “Phantom Terror” (see APPENDIX A), by Phillip D. Spyropoulos, of the same organization - the American Hellenic Media Project New York, also a longtime TiM reader.  The piece was re-published in most of the Greek-American and English-language Greek press, such as The National Herald and The Greek-American, among some media outlets that received the original commentary.  It was to that editorial that Ambassador Burns replied as follows:

“June 12, 2000

Dear Mr. Spyropoulos,

As American Ambassador to Greece, I have consistently argued for fair American press and public commentary concerning our ally in Athens. You may have noticed, in fact, that I was the first person to object publicly last week when the Congressional Commission on Terrorism called for consideration of sanctions against Greece for its failure to stop the 17 November terrorist group. I am a friend of Greece and will always stand up for Greeks when they are unjustly criticized. In this sense, I have admired your own efforts to speak up when Greece and Greeks are not accorded ethical and historically just treatment in the United States.

I must tell you, however, that I was genuinely shocked to read your article, Phantom Terror, in which you allege that "British Brigadier Stephen Saunders may have been as much a victim in the State Department's misleading hype regarding Greece's terrorism problem, as of an ineffective counter-terrorism effort itself."

To state baldly that we in the United States Government bears any blame for our friend and colleague's brutal murder at the hands of a Marxist-Leninist terror group is grotesque and immoral. I am appalled that you would make such a charge publicly, especially against your own government. It is the terrorists who are at fault. I would hope that you would issue a clear and immediate apology to the victims and all of us who represent the United States overseas.

You charge that our public discussion of terrorism, in essence, provoked 17 November to murder Brigadier Saunders, but the 17 November proclamation itself refutes this fallacy: It claims 17 November followed Saunders since March, before the two terrorism reports were issued. The group's modus operandi is to plan attacks for months ahead of time, not to respond immediately to what is said by governments.

Unlike you, my colleagues and I live in Athens as targets of 17 November. Five officials of our embassy have been murdered by this group during the last 25 years, and 30 have been wounded. We had a rocket-propelled grenade fired at our chancery building four years ago. During the past two and a half years, 24 American businesses have been bombed. Many of those bombings were claimed by 17 November. These are the cruel and irrefutable, not imagined, facts.

You insinuate that the State Department has exaggerated the past year's bombings. Try telling that to my colleagues in our Consulate General in Thessaloniki, who were told by our experts that they could have been killed by a 20-canister gas bomb had it not been defused by our own guards in the spring of 1999. Try telling that to the employees of the Fulbright Commission, all of whom would have been killed at their office had brave Greek police not defused a powerful bomb in the same month. Your attempt to downplay these incidents simply does not square with the objective facts.

Terrorism is a deadly matter in Greece. The people responsible for the attacks are the terrorists themselves, and no one else. Terrorism has been unchecked in Greece for too long. Far too many people, including your own countrymen, have been killed. I suggest you turn your logic and sense of moral purpose to the task which we are engaged in with the Greek Government: to defeat the terrorists, and not to provide excuses for their deadly attacks. Greece's true friends will help it turn its undivided attention and full energy to arrest these murderers. Greece does not need apologists, but encouragement and support, to do the right thing.

Greece's history is replete with examples of individuals acting on the courage of their convictions to uphold the rule of law and human decency. I would hope you could add your voice to those ranks.

Sincerely yours,

R. Nicholas Burns, Ambassador

cc: Andy Athens, Andy Manatos, Eugene Rossides, John Sitilides, George Savidis, Angelos Tsacopoulos, Art Diamantouras-National Herald, Nancy Agris, Savage-Hellenic Chronicle, Greg Maniatis, Greg Pappas, George Georgopoulos”

---

TiM Ed.: The .cc list is comprised of the Greek-American community's biggest newspaper publishers and the ambassador’s friends.  The ambassador was also quoted in the above New York Time story as saying that terrorism was, "the defining issue between Greece's past and future."  The Times didn’t elaborate on what this meant.  But Burns’ comment could have implied that Greece has been a terrorist state in the past, hardly a diplomatic thing to say by an ambassador to a host country.

And now, here’s Mr. Spyropoulos’s reply to Ambassador Burns:

“June 15, 2000

To The Hon. R. Nicholas Burns:

I was very saddened to read your June 12th letter, as much for the distress that our editorial has caused you and your colleagues as for your evident misreading of it.

Although you ask for an apology, nothing written in our editorial warrants one. Our editorial was a response to a media environment that is incomplete, selective and one-sided on the issue. Worse yet, much of our press and many in our foreign policy establishment have been using Stephen Saunders' death as a pretext to demonize all Greeks following our worst tradition of ethnic-bating.

Hence perhaps the most troubling aspect of the terrorism reports is that there appears to be an intimate nexus between misograecist bigotry and those banging the loudest on the "Greece is a terrorist state" drum. One need only look to E. Wayne Merry's ethnic slurs, his demonstrated anti-Hellenism, and his close involvement with the manufacturing of the Greek terrorist threat hysteria as evidence.

Your focus on the fact that Greece does indeed have a terrorist problem that has resulted in loss of life, personal injury and property damage -- or your emphasis on the terrible effects such violence has on its victims and their families -- does not detract from the fact that the portrayal of Greece as among the most dangerous anti-American terrorist countries in the world was highly misleading and, quite simply, untrue.

Speaking out against this falsehood -- one that will have profound repercussions for both the U.S. and Greece as well as for the entire Balkan and Mideast region -- does not imply support of or indifference to terrorism, or the depreciation of the suffering visited upon its victims, and I am at a loss as to how you gleaned this impression from our editorial. I both hope and expect that all precautions will be taken by my government to protect the lives of Americans serving abroad.

Why you should be so outraged by our raising concerns in the Saunders murder regarding the symbiotic relationship between terrorists and their public exposure, particularly where such publicity was generated by government reports that single-handedly managed to manufacture and publicize the perception of an exaggerated terrorist threat in Greece, is difficult to understand.

In their landmark book on terrorism, Terror and Taboo, Professors Joseba Zulaika and William Douglas explored how publicity and press coverage undoubtedly empower terrorists and encourage future terrorist acts, and how such publicity is in fact the vehicle through which terrorists' objectives are often achieved (Routledge, 1996).

In Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century, Professor Cindy Combs argues that sensational media coverage of terrorist acts "has raised questions about the media's complicity in today's terrorism" (p.143, Prentice Hall, 1997).

Thus this argument is hardly a new one, and rather than taking such deep offense to our raising of the issue, a more sober response would be to study and consider its impact on the prevention of terrorism.

November 17's own self-serving statement that Saunder's murder was planned far in advance should not preclude the very real possibility that the attack was an ad hoc response by the terrorists -- who had in any case a month to plan for the killing subsequent to the State Department report -- to reinforce the perception of their effectiveness as well as the impression, damaging to both the Greek government and to Greco-American relations, that Greece is a dangerous terrorist country.

This concern was echoed in an article published in The Independent that was otherwise critical of Greece's response to terrorism:

"The real reason Brigadier Saunders died, leaving his wife, Heather, a widow and depriving his two daughters of their father, was probably the absence of vulnerable Americans. . . His death came four days after a U.S. congressional committee announced in its annual report on world terrorism that 'Greece remained one of the weakest links.'" ("Gunned down by the Athens Untouchables", Colin Smith, 6/11/00).

Given the sophistication, professionalism and resourcefulness of the terrorist group, if November 17 is receiving help from foreign interests whose purpose is to destabilize Greece or damage its relationship with the U.S. and the rest of Europe, inflammatory and exaggerated reports such as those issued by the State Department and the Congressional commission can only serve to further such agendas, and can only make November 17 appear more successful than it would otherwise be to its backers.

Your assertion that you were "appalled that [I] would make such a charge publicly, especially against [my] own government" indicates a misunderstanding not only of the relationship of our government to its citizens, but of what good citizenship entails.

Our government exists to serve its citizens, not the other way around. And it is not only our right, but our duty as citizens to voice our dissent to policies that we believe are immoral or detrimental to our interests.

Your statement that "[t]he people responsible for terror attacks are the terrorists themselves and no one else" appears to be a sharp departure from the State Department's and the Congressional commission's position that the Greek government's inaction is also responsible for terrorism in Greece. Query, is this the Department's new position?

I was most troubled by the question I asked myself after reading your letter: why is a U.S. diplomat to a foreign country writing a highly critical letter (and disseminating it widely and publicly) to the director of an American media watchdog group?

As my representative abroad, I would hope that in the future, rather than discourage dissent and constructive free speech, you would keep an open mind to credible alternative viewpoints even if they are critical of the foreign policies to which you are committed.

That the terrorist killing of Stephen Saunders was an illegal and immoral act is so obvious that it should need no further clarification. The horror experienced by Brig. Saunders on the last day of his life, and the devastation it has brought upon his wife, his children and those who loved him, should not be dismissed or downplayed but should be mourned and contemplated upon.

Why? Not because he was a military attaché or a British government official, but because he was a father, a son, a husband, a friend . . . In short, because he was a human being that was killed violently and intentionally by the hand of another. The same respect for life should be accorded all who are victims of violence, not because they are Americans or Greeks or diplomats or businessmen, but because they are human beings.

The problem with our foreign policy is that it only selectively recognizes this fact. This is at the heart not only of our problem with anti-American terrorism, but of our entire foreign policy mindset in the Balkans, the Middle East and beyond.

Our bombing campaign against Iraq, purportedly in response to Hussein's invasion of Kuwait which killed 200, caused the death of up to two million human beings like Stephen Saunders.

NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia killed up to 2,000 Serbs and Albanians, more people than were killed in Kosovo by Yugoslav troops fighting the KLA prior to our bombing campaign. These victims of our own violence were not unavoidable deaths resulting from proportional military necessity, but victims of what a Newsweek article correctly characterized as the "terror-bombing [of] civilians" ("The Kosovo Cover-Up", 5/15/00).

This, Mr. Burns, is what is "grotesque", "immoral" and "shocking".

Our government's support of what is in sum and substance an extension of the KLA -- a violent group that even our own State Department officials have described as a terrorist organization that is now busying itself ethnically cleansing Kosovo's Serb minority -- undermines our own position against terrorism, as does our consent to what has been characterized as Europe's largest and most dangerous state-sanctioned terrorist organization, Turkey's Grey Wolves.

Finally, you raise the point that, unlike myself, you and your colleagues "live life in Athens as targets of November 17". I sympathize with you as I, too, have received credible death threats from Turkish extremists. Which brings the point home that we are all losers to terrorism and to actions and policies that encourage it.

The surest way to deter terrorism and to advance American interests abroad is to pursue a foreign policy that promotes peace and justice, and not one that serves short-sighted political, ethnic, business or other parochial interests.

Sincerely,

Phillip Spyropoulos, Citizen”

------------

APPENDIX A

Phantom Terror

by P. D. Spyropoulos

The State Department's annual report on terrorism sent shock waves throughout the diplomatic and intelligence communities this May after it lambasted a country that it claimed ranked second worldwide in anti-U.S. terrorist attacks in 1999. The reason for the fallout? The report was not referring to Afghanistan, Libya or Iran, but to a progressive European democracy and staunch ally that has fought alongside the U.S. in every major American war.

Both the State Department findings and a subsequent report by a Congressional commission on terrorism -- which recommended considering diplomatic and military sanctions against Greece -- asked Americans to suspend disbelief by portraying Greece as among the world's most dangerous anti-American terrorist countries. The reports blamed an ineffectual or uncooperative Greek government for the situation.

Yet an examination of the facts reveal what is in effect a low-grade urban terrorist problem common to most Western countries, rather than the terrorist mecca portrayed in the reports.

In the most serious of the 20 incidents cited by the reports, a Greek woman was killed and another injured when a bomb exploded at an Athens hotel last year. Significantly, there were no other deaths or injuries that resulted from any of the other incidents.

There were nine other bombings, the most serious of which involved the late-night firing of a rocket launcher at a bank. The rest involved low-grade, home-made bombs. Notably, almost all the bombings were carried out late at night or under circumstances where there was little or no chance of injuring anyone.

Five incidents involved amateur arson attempts causing minimal property damage. Two incidents involved drive-by shootings from motorcycles at corporate buildings, and some of the incidents categorized as anti-American were actually directed against Greek-owned businesses.

Except for one attack, in which two SUVs were heavily damaged in a car dealership, property damage for all the incidents was minimal -- averaging from between $1,000 to $3,000.

The State Department report's mischaracterization of a mentally disturbed woman's attempt to set off a coffee mug-sized propane cooking canister at the entrance of the U.S. Consulate as an "attempt to firebomb the U.S. Consulate in Thessaloniki" further underscores the excessive and misleading nature of the report.

Part of the problem lies in the fact that much of the information circulating on the issue originates from unreliable sources -- such as E. Wayne Merry, a former State Department official who has been among the most vociferous in criticizing the Greek government's response to terrorism. Merry's highly partisan reports crossed the line from axe-grinding to ethnic slurs when he berated all Greeks in a Washington Post report last November for having "deep-seated ethnocentric Balkan prejudices" and for tolerating terrorism due to their "rabid anti-U.S., anti-NATO, anti-EU, anti-Turkey, anti-Western nationalism" ("Greek Terror", 11/9/99).

While heightened concern by U.S. officials of terrorism in Greece appears warranted given the increase of anti-American attacks over the past year, the sporadic, low-intensity and amateur nature of most of the attacks -- which have almost exclusively been directed against property -- clearly did not warrant the exaggerated conclusions of either the State Department or the Congressional commission's reports.

Twenty three of the 25 deaths resulting from terrorist acts in Greece since 1975 have been attributed to "November 17", a small but violent group widely considered to be Greece's chief terrorist threat. Significantly, Greece's most serious terrorist attack in three years was perpetrated on June 8th, when November 17 shot and killed a British military attaché in Athens. The timing of the killing -- which occurred just three days after the Congressional commission's report -- coupled with the fact that the group's last assassination occurred back in May of 1997, has raised concerns that the group may have been encouraged and empowered by the disproportionate significance it was given in the terrorism reports. Hence, British Brigadier Stephen Saunders may have been as much a victim of the State Department's misleading hype regarding Greece's terrorist problem, as of an ineffective counter-terrorism effort itself.

Press coverage of the issue missed another crucial point: just as a lunatic fringe of Americans use violence to oppose government policies within the U.S., the rise of politically-inspired crimes in Greece is the violent edge of a wider dissent to our catastrophic Yugoslav policy -- a policy that triggered consecutive campaigns of ethnic cleansing against Albanians and now Serbs in Kosovo, and that bombed close to two thousand civilians to death.

Charges that nationalist and ethnocentric sentiments are at the source of anti-U.S. terrorism in Greece are made more implausible by the fact that Greek politics, dominated by Greece's socialist party PASOK, have largely been free of the extremist nationalist movements that have garnered significant electoral support in other Western countries such as France, Austria, Israel and Germany. That Greek humanitarian and economic aid to Albania and to Kosovo's Albanian refugees was among the most ambitious of all EU and NATO countries further serves to underscore this fact.

Both the State Department and Congressional reports largely based their conclusions on the inability of the Greek government to apprehend the terrorists. Yet even though U.S. law enforcement agencies with far greater resources and expertise have been working with their Greek counterparts for years, they have also been unable to make any inroads against November 17. This lends credence to Greek objections that it is the secretive nature of the group, rather than any lack of political will, that lies at the heart of the impasse.

Some are concerned that the State Department may be using this highly implausible portrayal of Greece as a dangerous terrorist state to gain leverage over Greece and to enable Turkey's growing dominance over the region, as well as to reprimand Greece for its outspoken opposition to NATO' s bombing of Yugoslavia.

That political considerations appear to influence the State Department's list of countries tagged as abetting or tolerating terrorism has long been a concern of foreign governments and human rights groups alike. This is most starkly seen when comparing the State Department report's treatment of Greece with its neighbor across the Aegean.

While the report applauded Turkey's counter-terrorism efforts, particularly against the militant Kurdish separatist group the PKK, it omitted a vast body of evidence which would arguably rank Turkey as among the world's top sponsors of terrorism.

A 1998 investigation by the Turkish government conceded that up to 14,000 of its citizens have been killed during the past two decades by government-sponsored death squads. Turkish security forces have killed thousands of Kurdish civilians as part of a war that has resulted in the ethnic cleansing of between 1 to 3 million Kurds from southeastern Turkey.

The Turkish government also employs and supports the Grey Wolves -- an extreme-right paramilitary organization that has killed thousands of Turks and has been characterized as Europe's largest terrorist organization. The Grey Wolves received international notoriety when one of its members, Mehmet Ali Agca, attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1981.

These shocking facts are what led Danielle Mitterrand, president of the France-Freedom Foundation and widow of the late French president Francois Mitterand, to declare that the international community "should judge and impose sanctions for state terrorism represented by Turkey's official army."

Moreover, in 1996 Turkish deputy Sedat Bucak revealed that Grey Wolves chief Abdullah Catli spearheaded a campaign of arson fires that ravaged Greek islands during the height of summer tourist seasons, causing millions of dollars in damages.

While Turkey's dangerous strain of state-sponsored terrorism was disregarded by both the State Department and Congressional reports, EU-member Greece has been subjected to what may well be characterized as a politically-inspired witch hunt with little actual substance.

The small group of extremists responsible for the sporadic attacks on foreign businesses and the killings of four American officials during the past 25 years are a perverse exception to Greece's standing as among the safest countries in Europe for foreign officials and tourists alike.

According to information taken from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports, Greece' s homicide rate is less than a fifth of the U.S.'s, and Americans are seven times more likely to be murdered in their own nation's capitol than anywhere in Greece. The memorial at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City commemorating 168 dead should serve as a sobering reminder that far more Americans and government officials have died as a result of home-grown terrorism. Whether looking at terrorism or crime, Americans and U.S. officials are safer walking the streets of Athens or Thessaloniki than those of Washington, D.C. or New York.

This reality was underscored when former President George Bush informed reporters while vacationing in Crete this June that he felt safe visiting Greece, and urged other Americans to do so as well.

Politically-motivated charges of terrorism undermine U.S. credibility worldwide and depreciate sincere U.S. concerns regarding terrorism. If our policymakers cry wolf too often, or try to exert untoward pressure on democratic allies through irresponsible accusations, our capacity to counter genuine terrorist threats will be compromised and our foreign policy will sustain further damage.

The disproportionate focus on what is in essence a minor concern for U.S. interests in Greece is a red herring that not only detracts from the real foreign policy issues our government must address in the region, but hands otherwise inconsequential extremists their biggest victory by magnifying the perception of danger they pose, and thus their ability to spread terror. Moreover, exaggerating the effects of terrorism in Greece helps to undermine our staunchest and most democratic ally in the region, and our best hope for the spread of democratic and free-market values to the Balkans, Turkey and beyond.

____________

American Hellenic Media Project, PO Box 1150, New York, NY 10028-0008, e-mail: ahmp@hri.org, Web: http://www.ahmp.org. The American Hellenic Media Project is a non-profit organization created to address inaccuracy and bias in the media and encourage independent, ethical and responsible journalism.

Feedback: Home:logolittle.jpg (9114 bytes) Search:

Also, check out... Djurdjevic's WASHINGTON TIMES columns:  "Christianity Under Siege," "Silence Over Persecuted Christians", "Chinese Dragon Wagging Macedonian Tail,"  "An Ugly Double Standard in Kosovo Conflict?", "NATO's Bullyboys", "Kosovo: Why Are We Involved?", and "Ginning Up Another Crisis"

Or Djurdjevic's NEW DAWN magazine columns: "Blood for Oil, Drugs for Arms", "Washington's Crisis Factory,"  and "New Iron Curtain Over Europe"