Greece and the Issue of Terror under the Andreas Papandreou’s Rule
Vassilios Damiras, Ph.D.
International Relations Expert
At the October 1981 national elections, Andreas Papandreou and his radical Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) won a landslide victory with 48.1% of the vote and captured 172 seats; it formed the first socialist government in Greece since 1924. Although Papandreou had campaigned to withdraw Greece from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Economic Community, after a strong request by the rest of the party members and its supporters, he changed his policy towards both institutions. Papandreou proved an excellent negotiator when securing benefits and subsidies for Greece from the EEC. For example, in 1985, he openly threatened Jacques Delors to veto the entry of Spain and Portugal into the Community to secure more monetary aid for Greece. Since then, Athens and her surrounding towns have played host to a variety of conferences and meetings by terrorist representatives and spokespeople, including PLO officials, Hamas, Sinn Fein, and Libyan terrorists. Muammar Gaddafi, in 1981, gave 4 million dollars for his electoral campaign and victory. The money was secretly transferred from Libya to Greece via a major Greek bank. Melina Mercuri, the later Miniter of Cultural Affairs of Greece, was the go-between.
Eventually, Gaddafi’s economic largess toward Greek socialism grew to as much as $20 million yearly. In 1986, Papandreou addressed one such meeting, calling “liberation movements” the “instruments for the historical change and progress of our times, who secretly transferred an estimated $4 million via a major Greek bank to help finance the campaign. PASOK is an outgrowth of an underground organization called the Panhellenic Liberation Movement (PAK), which Papandreou created while in exile in Sweden and Canada to fight the military dictatorship then in power in Greece (1967-1974). Several former PAK radicals were trained and indoctrinated in Middle Eastern terrorist camps and eventually became members of the various Socialist administrations. One of them is Kostas Tsimas, then head of the Greek Information Service- the Intelligence Agency- who controlled the country’s principal intelligence apparatus. Tsimas trained in Palestinian terrorist camps in Syria and Lebanon. He has retained close contact with them and has been among their most influential protectors in the Greek political establishment.
Sifis Valyrakis was second in command of the Ministry of Public Order in the 1980s, which controls Greece’s national police, trained at camps in Lebanon. In 1976, two years after the overthrow of the Greek military dictatorship, he was arrested by authorities and sentenced to seven months in prison for smuggling forty Kalashnikov assault rifles into Greece. He never served a day, and the following year, Papandreou nominated him as a PASOK candidate for parliament. Citing intelligence files, former Athens police detectives claim that Valyrakis is one of several PASOK associates tied to November 17.
The Revolutionary Organization November 17, also known as N17 or the November 17 Group, was a Greek Marxist–Leninist urban guerrilla organization. Formed in 1975 and led by Alexandros Giotopoulos, N17 conducted an extensive urban guerrilla campaign against the Greek state, banks, and businesses. The organization committed 103 known armed robberies, assassinations, and bombing attacks; the result, November 17, killed 23 people.
They are known for targeting American, British, and other foreign diplomats and military personnel, blaming the United States for supporting the Regime of the Colonels. Their demands have included:
- The removal of US bases in Greece.
- The removal of Turkish military forces from North Cyprus.
- The withdrawal of Greece from NATO and the European Union.
Alexandros Giotopoulos, born 1944, is a Greek convicted terrorist, currently serving seventeen life sentences plus 25 years imprisonment. In 2003, the court found him guilty of leading the Marxist-Leninist Greek urban guerrilla group Revolutionary Organization on November 17. Some argue that behind November 17 was Papandreou. The USA and Britain lost diplomats due to November 17 terrorist actions. Eventually, under Anglo-American pressure and assistance, Greek authorities dismantled this terrorist group, the only group that targeted the conservative opposition in Greece; for many analysts, it was a socialist instrument of terror.
Vassilis Konstantineas was a senior foreign ministry official and influential PASOK’s international relations committee member. Western intelligence sources and Greece’s police revealed that in 1983, Konstantineas and Tsimas secretly met Abu Nidal upon his arrival at Athens Airport (Nidal appeared as a Greek Orthodox priest). Later, they held negotiations in a small hotel in downtown Athens. On the table was an arrangement under which the Abu Nidal organization would have residency and transit privileges in Greece and could operate a clandestine headquarters in Athens. Many Greek left-wing politicians collaborated with terrorists.