|05ATHENS341||2005-02-02 10:36:00||UNCLASSIFIED||Embassy Athens|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ATHENS 000341
1. Embassy warmly welcomes and grants country
clearance for the visit of Blake Reid to conduct air
carrier inspections at the Athens International
Airport from Feb 22 through 25 2005. Control Officer
for the visit will be TSA Rep, Ray Montgomery, who can
be reached during office hours at 30-210-720-2091, at
home at 30-210-965-0175 or on Cellular at (0030)-6932-
707071. The Embassy's after hours duty receptionist
can be reached at 30-210-729-4444.
2. Hotel reservations have been made at the Athens
Hilton 46, Vas. Sofia's Avenue, telephone (30) 210-
728-1000 and Fax (30) 210-728-1111. Traveler's
confirmation number is 308522. Cost per night is 135BB
and it is within per diem. Traveler is expected to pay
his own hotel bill prior to departing. If the room
reserved is not to be used, the reservation must be
canceled prior to the option date of Feb 21st 2005.
Otherwise, the traveler is responsible for the cost of
the unused room.
3. Pursuant to State 66580 dated March 25, 2004,
country clearance for any person on TDY for 30 days or
more is granted contingent on completion of the
mandatory personal security training. The Department
of State's Foreign Service Institute (FSI) conducts
the approved minimum four-day training class, "Serving
Abroad for Families & Employees (S.A.F.E.)." This is
the same course required for employees and highly
recommended for their eligible family members over the
age of 18.
4. It is important that all visitors carefully read
the information and instructions provided below. Post
wants to ensure the best possible service to all
official visitors and will work closely to arrange
details of each visit.
5. Early morning check-in: For those coming from
Washington, D.C., often on the early morning Delta flight
arriving at 1005, please note there is no guarantee of
early check-in at the hotel. Normal check-in time is 1400.
Although post can request early check-in for travelers, the
only way to guarantee a room waiting is to reserve it for
the preceding night. Travelers who wish to book the
previous night must request post to make this reservation.
The traveler is responsible for this expense. Travelers
should be prepared to go from the airport directly to the
office/meetings if they have not paid for a room the night
before. The Embassy has a cafeteria that serves breakfast
6. Arrivals: We expect to be able to provide
transportation for official visitors at the Deputy
Assistant Secretary level and above upon arrival at the
airport. Other visitors should plan to use taxis. The
price of a taxi from Athens airport to downtown is
approximately 28 - 30 euros. Depending on traffic, the
trip to the Embassy takes 40 to 60 minutes.
7. Documents required: Diplomatic and official passport
holders must have Greek diplomatic visas, a valid Schengen
visa or diplomatic ID from any other Schengen country, in
addition to their passport, in order to enter Greece. The
Embassy will be unable to obtain plane-side visas for USG
employees arriving in Greece without proper documentation.
Holders of tourist passports do not/not require visas. USG
employees who plan to operate a motor vehicle while in
Greece must be in possession of a valid U.S. drivers'
license as well as a valid International Drivers' License
and must carry proof of third party liability insurance
while operating the vehicle.
8. Embassy access: Embassy Athens has installed a new
identification badging system, which requires that all
Department of State employees bring their Global ID and/or
Smart Card that will be acknowledged as proper Embassy ID.
DOS employees will be expected to stop by the RSO Office to
program their ID to be compatible with the Athens system.
9. Regional Medical Office: The Health Unit at the
Embassy is fully staffed. A State Department medical
clearance is required by all employees of agencies
participating in ICASS who will be traveling TDY for more
then 60 days a year. Health Unit access is not guaranteed
without this clearance. Family members will not have
access to the Health Unit unless they are on employees'
travel orders. We strongly recommend that TDYers bring
with them proof of current medical insurance coverage and
medevac coverage if obtained.
10. Currency: Greece is a member of the European Monetary
Union, and the Euro is the currency of the country.
Accommodation exchange is available on a limited basis
(responsible agency/section signed authorization) at the
Embassy cashier office hours are M-F 0900 1100 and 1400
1600. However, ATMs are readily available throughout the
country (there is also one at the Embassy); they will
accept U.S. debit cards. In addition, most banks and major
hotels provide accommodation exchange services. Post is
unable to provide reverse accommodation.
11. Office space/laptops/mobile phones: Office space in
both classified and unclassified areas is extremely
limited. For those employees planning on bringing laptops
and modems to use in their hotels, please remember that
this equipment can be used for processing unclassified
(non-SBU) information only. Current here is 220 volt, 50
cycles, and outlets are two-pronged. Bring along a plug
adapter and equipment that can handle the voltage. Laptops
are not permitted in controlled access areas of the
Embassy. European GSM mobile phones function normally in
12. Presidential Directive - Trafficking in Persons: All
TDY personnel are reminded that President Bush has signed a
National Security Presidential Directive to advance the
fight against trafficking in persons. The United States is
committed to eradicate trafficking both domestically and
abroad. Trafficking in persons exists in Greece. A
significant number of the people involved in prostitution,
pornography and the sex tourism phenomenon, are trafficked.
They are compelled by force, fraud and coercion to submit
to sexual exploitation. TDY personnel are advised that any
involvement with the commercial sex industry is
unacceptable in light of the diplomatic and foreign policy
goals of the United States and the ethical standards of the
Department of State and this Mission. Embassy Management
will not tolerate any such involvement by Mission personnel
and, in this regard, will enforce all relevant regulations
regarding conduct and suitability of U.S. Government
employees stationed abroad.
13. Security information:
A. Embassy Athens is designated "critical" for indigenous
terrorism. In the past, local Greek terrorist groups have
targeted prominent Greeks as well as certain non-Greek
Officials, including Americans. We believe that the threat
to official US Government personnel on short-term
assignments to Greece or visiting for tourism is relatively
low. The indigenous groups historically have engaged in
extensive operational surveillance over long periods of
time. In 2003 and again in 2004, the Greek Government made
significant progress to combat domestic terrorism by
successfully convicting the leader and key hit men of the
November 17 terrorist organization and of the ELA. 17N was
responsible for assassinating prominent Greeks and five
members of the US Mission over the course of its 30-year
history. Convicted ELA members were responsible for
several bombings, attempted murders and were involved in at
least one assassination. While these convictions likely
impacted on the operational capabilities of 17N and ELA, it
is too soon to assess whether the threat from domestic
terrorism is completely eliminated. We urge vigilance and
caution, as the worldwide threat from other terrorist
groups against Americans in general remains high. Official
Americans should assume they are potential targets.
B. Over the past year the U.S. Embassy has experienced
numerous bomb threats, protest marches, and anti-U.S.
demonstrations. These protests are generally peaceful
though a few provoked random acts of violence. Travelers
to Greece are advised that protests or demonstrations could
occur at any time; unwitting observers or bystanders might
be identified, to their disadvantage, as Americans. RSO
recommends that official U.S. travelers in Greece remain
alert when moving about in public places and avoid certain
places where demonstrators frequently congregate. These
places include the Polytechnical University area, located
on 28 October (Patission) Street between the National
Archeological Museum and Omonia Square; Exarchion Square,
located near Kolonaki; Omonia and Syntagma Squares, which
are often used as launch sites for large demonstrations;
and Mavili Square, located near the U.S. Embassy. Visitors
should keep abreast of news about large demonstrations and
avoid these areas and metro stops.
C. Crime is rated "medium" in Greece. For TDY visitors,
pick-pocketing and purse snatching are the most common
crimes. Taxis are generally safe though metered cabs are
recommended. Taxis too will often pick up more than one
passenger unless prior arrangements are made. Crimes of
opportunity thefts, break-ins, and occasional scams are
on the rise. Travelers should be especially cautious with
wallets, purses, and parcels when traveling on crowded
streets, public buses, trolleys, and/or subways. There
have been several instances of motorcyclists approaching
cars stuck in traffic, reaching through open windows or
smashing closed ones, and stealing whatever is within
reach. We have also recently learned of a new scenario in
which motorcyclists open the trunk of a vehicle and remove
the contents. The Embassy recommends keeping purses,
parcels, handbags, etc. out of sight under the seat or on
the floor of the car. Windows should be kept closed and
doors locked. Pedestrians may also be confronted by
beggars and other street people who may attempt to divert
attention, then steal unprotected valuables either by
pick-pocketing or snatch-and-grab techniques. Women are
generally safe from violent crime in Greece. Men are
aggressive by American standards however when pursuing
D. Traffic in Greek urban areas, especially Athens and
Thessaloniki, is chaotic. Greece leads the European Union
in traffic fatalities. Road rage is common. Accidents
often lead to fist fights. Drivers in Greece should
exercise caution and common sense. Drivers and pedestrians
alike should exercise extreme caution when operating motor
vehicles or when walking along roadways. Moreover,
tourists who rent motorbikes either on the Greek mainland
or its islands must wear helmets and must take special
precautions on the local roads that are typically poorly
maintained and frequently pothole-ridden. Greece also
leads the European Union in motorcycle deaths.