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Mediterranean Quarterly 15.2 (2004) 1-5
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Security for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games
More and more often, we become painfully aware that our planet has grown much smaller. Not in the sense that it cannot hold all of us—quite the contrary—but because almost everything that happens concerns and affects every one of us. To a great extent, the problems of each country and each society become the problems of many other countries and societies. This interdependence is confirmed daily on many levels: political, economic, military, and even in the daily life of the citizen. Indeed, those who speak of the global village are not far from the truth.
At the same time, many of the constants of the previous century are undergoing change that leads to fluidity and uncertainty. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that we live in a time of transformation not yet crystallized. It is an environment shaped by the pressure of new factors, such as
- the historic upheaval following the collapse of the political and economic systems of the former communist countries,
- the tragic events of 11 September and the geopolitical uncertainty they produced, and
- the need to recognize emerging states and address the survival of a large part of the planet's population.
Within this complex reality of globalization, we are faced with the need to resolve the huge problem of our planet's security with new methods, since everything—ideologies, values, and political and socioeconomic assumptions and trends—is subject to the need for redefinition and redirection. As [End Page 1] the search for new approaches moves forward, the international community seeks a new and commonly accepted definition of security itself.
Despite the lack of a universally accepted definition, there is agreement as to the new forms of violence—and their consequences for security—on our planet:
- In its current form, violence exhibits breadth in its qualitative elements and is spreading dangerously to all corners of the earth.
- Security is not the concern of just one society; it is a matter of international cooperation, since many new factors challenge the security system of every country.
By undertaking the organization of the 2004 Olympic Games, Greece is facing one of the most important challenges of its recent history. On behalf of the international community, it is being called upon to manage the largest athletic event in the world with flawless organization and contemporary infrastructure and in a secure environment.
Many years ago, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower was asked to define security, he replied that "security means taking weapons out of circulation." Since then, the course of events shows very clearly that this definition is no longer sufficient. Realizing the magnitude of a security program for the Olympic Games, we initiated a long-term plan that commenced on the day we undertook to hold the event in Athens, utilizing all of the country's structures and functions, as well as the totality of knowledge and experience gained from recent Olympics.
Our approach is based on the assumption that a multifarious public arriving in Greece from all corners of the world must feel assured that it is attending a celebration whose essence will not be spoiled by any anticipated or unforeseen event. Moreover, the methodology and action plan aimed at security must take into account the characteristics of our country's open and democratic society. It is well established that every part of Greece is safe. Athens, with its 4 million inhabitants, is one of the world's safest cities. No town in Greece has a critical mass of marginalized groups. We have a homogenous society, which has the ability to assimilate external elements. This means that immigrant populations have largely been absorbed and are part of the country's active population. In addition, the eradication of the 17 [End Page 2] November and ELA terrorist groups has improved the security situation of the Olympic Games.
Finally, the country's successful foreign policy, aimed at the durable reinforcement of conditions of peace and cooperation, has become a definitive factor for stability and security...