Human Rights

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I refer to the Greek domestic terrorist organization called "17 November". In nearly twenty-five years of lethal activity, not a single member of this group has ever been identified, apprehended, or punished in any way. Last year, this group carried out five attacks, nearly killing the German and Dutch ambassadors (the terrorists are learning new weapons and tactics, so have had a few near misses). This group is well-organized and disciplined, has recruited a new generation of killers, and is supremely self-assured. Worse, it is unopposed. Recent public statements by the terrorists show they know they are unchallenged by law enforcement and pretty much free to proceed as they choose. During a recent visit to Athens I had occasion to raise this issue with senior responsible government officials and with some of the country's top commentators. The response was a generalized shrug of indifference. I did not hear a single firm and unequivocal statement that these terrorists should be defeated and the country's laws enforced.

Greek official passivity on counter-terrorism is relevant to the visa waiver question on two grounds. First, if a government performs so poorly and is so negligent in fighting home-based terrorism, how can it be expected to be serious or competent in any other form of organized crime fighting?

Second, "17 November" has American blood on its hands. Five of our country's servants have died, but had all the bombings and other attacks against Americans succeeded, that toll would be at least fifteen times as high. Our Government designates five cities in the world as "Critical Threat" from terrorism. Athens is one. Our taxpayers spend more money protecting our representatives in the Greek capital than anywhere else on earth. The dollar savings (not to mention the human savings) we would garner from Greek arrest of the terrorists dwarf any potential economy at the Athens Embassy from elimination of the visa requirement.

Until the Greek Government takes the minimal step of apprehending the murderers of our diplomatic and military representatives, I believe the United States should deny approbation to Greek law enforcement through waving the visa requirement. We must not signal that passivity against terrorism is acceptable. At the most basic level, without the visa requirement as a deterrent, what would prevent the terrorists coming to this country to continue their activities on American soil if they chose?

Mr. Chairman, many people see the visa requirement as an impediment to human and business contacts or as a lack of American openness to the world. It may be these things, but the visa is also as much a tool of law enforcement in today's world as the metal detector or fingerprints. When we deprive ourselves of this tool for any country's citizens, we must be certain that country is dedicated to law not only in principle but in practice, that it has a record of strong enforcement rather than just strong rhetoric. The Hellenic Republic fails these standards and should not be admitted into the Visa Waiver Pilot Program. I urge the Administration to communicate these realities clearly and forcefully to the Greek Government so it may understand what needs to be done and why.
Mr. Chairman, it is an honor to appear before your Committee. Thank you.