- The radical change in the structure of the international system caused a scientific and political revolution in the definition and concept of security.
- Issues such as the climate crisis, forced displacements and extreme nationalism have led the interest and especially the debate on achieving security from external to internal threats.
- The focus is now on the main “object of reference” of security which is not the state or some sub-state groups, but “the individual”/”the citizen”.
- In the modern globalized environment, all the risks that threaten the daily life of citizens require dealing with the concept of security in a “holistic” and, at the same time, more “human-centered” way.
- Greece lacks an institutional document for the internal security strategy.
- There are structural reasons that make a comprehensive reform of the internal security sector necessary.
- In addition to the established weaknesses and inadequacies of specific agencies and/or services of the internal security system, the overall organic interconnection between crisis management services is still required.
- The first lesson from the effects of the pandemic is the need for the evolution of Greece into a “Modern National Security State”.
- Greece, due to its geographical position on the external borders of the EU, as well as the crises it has experienced in recent years, faces a series of internal security threats and challenges.
- Security and respect for fundamental rights are not mutually conflicting but coherent and complementary objectives.
- The Strategy will help build an internal security governance system and a central coordination process.
Read here in pdf the Policy paper by Panayotis Tsakonas, ELIAMEP Senior Research Fellow, Head of the Foreign Policy & Security Programme; Professor, University of Athens and Triandafyllos Karatrantos, ELIAMEP Senior Research Fellow.
The broadening of ‘security’ as a concept, the interconnectedness of external and internal security issues, and the need to coordinate a series of agencies and services whose activities cover almost the entire range of contemporary security threats and challenges have made the Ministry of Citizen Protection one of the essential institutional components of Greece’s national security apparatus, even though the Hellenic Police (ELAS) remains its only institutional pillar.
Though charged with tackling the most complex security problems and challenges, this key pillar of Greece’s national security still lacks a strategic document capable of providing a comprehensive and coherent picture of the full range of short-, medium- and long-term objectives, as well as how these objectives should be achieved.
Nevertheless, certain progress has been made over the last year in regard to the drafting of strategic documents within the main pillar of our national security strategy, the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and at the Cabinet level, i.e., the Office of the Prime Minister. Thus, it was that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs published its “Strategic Plan 2022–2025” in July 2022. This was followed in November 2022, on the initiative of the Office of the National Security Adviser, which forms part of the General Secretariat of the Prime Minister, by the first confidential draft of a “National Security Strategy”, which was submitted to the Governmental National Security Council (KYSEA).
However, apart from the document on Greece’s internal security strategy that is so conspicuous by its absence, there are also a range of structural factors that necessitate comprehensive internal security sector reform.
However, apart from the document on Greece’s internal security strategy that is so conspicuous by its absence, there are also a range of structural factors that necessitate comprehensive internal security sector reform.
- Internal security policy and crisis management have not been articulated in a comprehensive manner; as a result, their implementation is fragmented, being split between various structures (ministries and services).
- The crisis management system has not adapted to current conditions, and in particular to crises such as the pandemic, the mega-fires that have hit Greece in recent years, and the border crisis in Evros.
- The structure and operation of the law enforcement agencies are largely a legacy of the 2004 Olympics and the preparations made for the Games.
- Greek law enforcement agencies lack a culture of reform.
- The frequent changes in the structure and the mandates of the ministries that have the responsibility does not allow for long-term planning.
- The law enforcement agencies lack a culture of anticipation/forecasting and/or risk management; instead, the emphasis is clearly on responding to crises once they have happened.
- No meaningful assessment has been made of the security potential of new technologies.
- No system of governance has as yet been established in the broader security sector.
Consequently, an Internal Security Strategy document can contribute to the creation of a modern system of security governance. In addition, it can play a crucial role in forging relations of trust between security and law enforcement agencies and civil society, as well as in developing a “security culture” and fostering cooperative relations between the staff of the various institutions and agencies of the Ministry of Citizen Protection and other relevant Ministries, Services and Agencies. A strategic document comparable to similar documents in other countries, such as the “Homeland Security Document” in the US with the tentative name “Internal Security Strategy” (or alternatively, “Homeland Security Doctrine” or “Strategy for Citizen Security”) will also entail the rationalization and restructuring of the existing institutional structures connecting the Ministry of Citizen Protection with the other key components of the country’s national security strategy (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of National Defence, Ministry of Digital Governance, and Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection) and other Ministries, such as the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy, the Ministry of Health, etc.
The present paper attempts to summarize the ongoing and rapid changes in the international and regional security environment. It also describes the evolution and “institutional acquis” of Greece’s system of internal security; identifies and prioritizes the threats, challenges, and risks to Greece’s internal security; sets the objectives that need to be achieved; defines the specific pillars of actions; and proposes specific reforms that will allow a more effective system of internal security system to develop.
A rapidly changing world
In our globalized world of interdependent and interconnected societies, it is impossible for a state to simply barricade itself behind a security wall. Global challenges such as climate change, migration and pandemics create conditions that impact on the greater part of the world, often to catalytic effect.
The world around us is changing as rapidly as it is radically. In our globalized world of interdependent and interconnected societies, it is impossible for a state to simply barricade itself behind a security wall. Global challenges such as climate change, migration and pandemics create conditions that impact on the greater part of the world, often to catalytic effect.
The rise of technology in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things have fundamentally changed the way states function, their infrastructure and—especially—how citizens live their everyday lives. But while technological development can improve our quality of life, it also makes us more vulnerable. The existing asymmetries in the architecture of global governance, combined with the inability of nation states to confront global challenges on their own, have led to a loss of trust in international institutions and political elites and made room for global protest movements and conspiracy theories of various sorts. These conditions have favoured a rise in populist movements, which cultivate intolerant and divisive discourse.
Intrastate conflicts in developing countries have led both to widespread instability and to the social exclusion of millions of people who lack access to basic goods and live below the poverty line. These people are forced to seek a better tomorrow through migration, and most often fall victim to traffickers and organized crime rings along the way. In addition to making international terrorism the dominant threat, fundamentalism and Islamist terrorism have also fed into Islamophobia and helped empower Far Right extremism and the targeting of ethnic and religious communities, as well as increasing the incidence of violent and racist crimes.
Thus, the relatively simple framework of security threats based on inter-state conflicts has gradually been replaced by references to new security challenges andrisks, with an emphasis on the vulnerability of modern societies to terrorist attacks launched by non-state actors.
At the same time, the radical change in the structure of the international system has led to an equally revolutionary shift in the way academia and politics define security and what it encompasses. As a result of this shift, traditional threats are now afforded less significance in strategic security planning, with the emphasis having moved to the impact of issues once considered largely internal and national, and in many cases the domain of low-level policy. This has served to foreground the social and human dimension of security. Thus, the relatively simple framework of security threats based on inter-state conflicts has gradually been replaced by references to new security challenges andrisks, with an emphasis on the vulnerability of modern societies to terrorist attacks launched by non-state actors. This makes it extremely difficult to distinguish between internal and external security. Indeed, issues such as the climate crisis, forced displacement, extreme nationalism, the social impact of migration, and social and/or economic vulnerability have refocused the discourse on achieving security away from external and towards internal threats.
Recent years have witnessed a series of crises at different levels (economic, political, security, migration, culture). In many cases, more than one crisis has been ongoing at the same time, giving rise to what are now called “poly -crises”: for instance, in February-March 2020, Greece had to deal with the first phase of the pandemic and the Evros border crisis at the same time. In turn, the pandemic coupled with the war that followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have acted as “mega-crises” whose effects have been felt in multiple sectors (e.g. energy, the supply chain, price inflation, etc.) including internal security. Global problems and major crises cannot be comprehensively managed at a global level, since supranational governance formations are not yet suitably advanced and states cannot provide answers in isolation. This situation has ushered in a state of affairs in various states that both frustrates and angers citizens. Given a broader context characterized by a crisis of trust and a clash of identities, security issues now divide rather than unite. Indeed, security lies at the very heart of today’s polarized societies.
“Human Security” — “Citizen Security”
Intrastate conflicts and violence, plus the broader framework of threats to “human security”, have given rise to new imperatives. Security policy, but also policing, have to keep pace with the new world that is coming into being.
The late 20th century marked a major revolution in the concept of security. The collapse of the USSR brought the bipolar confrontation of the Cold War to an end, dialling down the threat of a nuclear war. Since the 1990s, most armed conflicts have been conducted within states (civil wars, tribal confrontations, sectarian conflicts, etc.). In addition, globalization and climate change have brought to the fore new challenges for humanity, (migratory pressures, pandemics, etc.) which, combined with the rapid development of technology, have moulded the new global environment. The era of major wars, and then the Cold War, left little room for devising strategies of internal security, as the emphasis was on transnational military threats. The end of the Cold War and the process of globalization, as well as dynamics such as the technological revolution, have radically changed the security landscape. Intrastate conflicts and violence, plus the broader framework of threats to “human security”, have given rise to new imperatives. Security policy, but also policing, have to keep pace with the new world that is coming into being. At the same time, we live in a world of great inequalities. Given the weaknesses in its regulatory framework, globalization has created new losers who experience the threat of social exclusion more acutely. In many cases, exclusion goes hand in hand with closed communities and societies (migrants, Roma, et al.) for whom the inequality issue is existential and vulnerability especially prevalent.
In this context, the conceptual content of security has both broadened and deepened. In particular, deepening has shifted the focus on to security’s main ‘referent object’, which is no longer the state or certain sub-state groups, but the individual/citizen. The security of the individual/citizen as a distinct security object has thus also come to delimit the content and changing meaning of “human security”, on which the relevant UN Report (Human Development Report, United Nations Development Programme, New York, 1994) bestows seven more specific dimensions:
- “economic security”, which relates to employment and every citizen being guaranteed a basic income
- “food security”, which relates to people having unhindered and uninterrupted access to food
- “health security”, which relates to protection against disease and access to medical care and medication
- “environmental security”, which relates to protection against the effects of environmental degradation
- “personal security”, which relates to protection from direct physical violence
- ” Community security”, which relates to protection against threats stemming from an individual’s membership of a particular group or community (ethnic, religious, etc.)
- “political security”, which relates to the protection of an individual’s fundamental freedoms, human rights and political choices.
New “asymmetrical” threats and security challenges
The challenges created by the broadening and deepening of the notion of security have also led to a new typology of threats and risks, which are largely asymmetrical and stem from non-state actors such as transnational organized crime networks and global terrorist organizations. The criminal operation of non-state actors, combined with the rapid development of technology and the use of cyberspace to carry out asymmetrical attacks have brought to the fore hybrid threats that confirm the relative nature of the traditional dichotomy between internal and external security. The new security agenda includes intra-state conflicts, ethnic and religious violence, Weapons of Mass Destruction, international terrorism, authoritarianism, human rights abuses, gender-based violence, organized crime, poverty and social exclusion, pandemics, energy insecurity, migratory pressures, environmental degradation, and climate change as well as cyber threats.
…the individual has become security’s main referent object, with the concept of “human security” driving a more widespread model for Security, Development, Dignity and Resilience.
On the other hand, as a globalized demand, the individual has become security’s main referent object, with the concept of “human security” driving a more widespread model for Security, Development, Dignity and Resilience. The concept of “human security” has become the basic security model for the UN and the EU, as well as for various states in Europe, America, Asia and Oceania. Freedom and security are not mutually contradictory; rather, they coexist as mutually supporting concepts across the entire spectrum of human needs, from survival to individual dignity. In essence, they create demands for protection that extends beyond even the new security framework. (Table 1).
“Internal security”: A difficult balance to achieve
In today’s globalized environment, the many threats to citizens in their daily lives require the concept of security to be addressed in both a holistic and more human-centric way, meaning in a manner that—without playing down the collective obligation of, and efforts made by, citizens to safeguard the integrity of their state from foreign imposition—highlights the need to safeguard citizens’ personal security and freedom from direct or indirect threats of violence, their development and well-being, and their right to live in a social environment that guarantees basic human rights. It is thus “human security” that is increasingly promoted through the protection and promotion of human rights, the rule of law, democratic governance, and conflict resolution.
Every modern democratic state is obliged to provide its citizens with the opportunity to live and to prosper free from internal and/or external threats andrisks.
Indeed, in the modern approach to security, the individual is both at the epicentre of threats to security and the main referent object in need of protection. However, the emergence of the individual as the main object of security, and the importance of securing the various aspects of “human security” in no way relieves the state and international institutions of their obligation to act as the international system’s primary “security providers”. Every modern democratic state is obliged to provide its citizens with the opportunity to live and to prosper free from internal and/or external threats andrisks.
In any case, security is a prerequisite for both the development and democratic functioning of a state. Economic growth, tourism, and a country’s ability to attract investment are all largely reliant on a stable security environment. The economic crisis has created new inequalities and fuelled social protest movements. A part of the populace, primarily the young, have been radicalized, and some have joined extremist and terrorist groups. The state is called upon to safeguard the right to protest, but also to protect the socio-economic life of its citizens and to prevent violent minorities intent on provoking violent episodes from doing so. It is also called upon to fight terrorism and violent extremism, and to prevent radicalization by protecting vulnerable individuals and groups. Finally, the state must protect free expression and the exercise of individual rights.
For their part, citizens have a duty to defend and promote the interests of their homeland in the new globalized and competitive international environment. As a result, human security and state security can be mutually supporting concepts and actions in the achievement of the broader objective of national security which, in the 21st century, includes both the protection of the citizens’ economic and social well-being as well as the territorial integrity of the state.
In today’s complex and interrelated world, internal security is thus called upon to achieve a balance between three levels: (a) the global, (b) the national, and (c) the individual. The internal security of a state is significantly impacted by external developments in its immediate and broader environment. Greece experienced this interconnection intensely with the escalation of the refugee/migration crisis in 2015–2016, and again with the Evros border crisis in February/March 2020, when migrants were instrumentalized as they crossed the Greek-Turkish land border illegally and en masse. To a significant extent, internal security has become a daily exercise in crisis and disaster/accident management; the devastating fires of summer 2021 are just one example. From growing migratory pressures to pandemics, forest fires and cyberattacks, internal security is more complex than ever.
The evolution of the institutional system of internal security
The tragic events of 11 September 2001 led to immediate institutional reforms in the United States and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). About a year after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States proceeded with a complete reorganization of its state security apparatus through the “Homeland Security Act”, legislation which also created the “Department of Homeland Security” (DHS) through the amalgamation of twenty-two (22) existing agencies and departments. With over 230,000 employees, the new Department of Homeland Security is tasked with countering terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction and cybersecurity threats; with protecting critical infrastructure (ports, airports, energy sources, etc.); with border security; and with responding to and managing natural and/or man-made disasters.
Interestingly, the European Union would not draw up an institutional internal security strategy document until much later. In fact, the European Union issued its “Internal Security Strategy” in 2010. This Strategy sought to strengthen the Union’s operational capacity vis-a-vis the internal aspects of security by achieving three specific strategic objectives: protecting Europe’s citizens by tackling threats of a global nature (such as terrorism, organized crime, cybercrime, transnational cross-border crime, and natural and man-made disasters); developing a European security model that includes common tools, cooperation and solidarity between Member States and the European institutions; and recognizing the interdependence between security’s external and internal facets and dimensions.
Evolution and the “institutional acquis” of Greece’s system of internal security
In Greece, the most important institutional reform in the system of internal security stemmed directly from Athens’ undertaking to stage the 2004 Olympic Games. The reform in question began in early 2001 and was reinforced after 9/11 in the light of the cataclysmic changes which that event wrought on the concept and content of security.
In Greece, the most important institutional reform in the system of internal security stemmed directly from Athens’ undertaking to stage the 2004 Olympic Games. The reform in question began in early 2001 and was reinforced after 9/11 in the light of the cataclysmic changes which that event wrought on the concept and content of security. The Ministry of Public Order, as it then was, and the Hellenic Police (EL.AS) were charged with coordinating all the services involved, as well as the strategic and operational planning of the security for the Games. It should be noted that they undertook to do so without any relevant institutional strategic document to outline either the threats or the roles of the institutions and services involved. The “Olympic Games Security Directorate” (OGSD) was created in January 2001 to prepare the security plans for the Games; sitting within the Hellenic Police, the Directorate was an independent service reporting directly to the Chief of the Hellenic Police. The OGSD was charged with the strategic planning of the security, and law and order measures required during the preparation for and conducting of the 2004 Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as the Cultural Olympiad; with ensuring the operational security plans were implemented; and with coordinating the various services and agencies involved in the Games.
The successful security planning for the 2004 Olympic Games played its part in the creation of a “culture of cooperation and interoperability” between the personnel of the various services involved in managing internal security incidents.
The successful security planning for the 2004 Olympic Games played its part in the creation of a “culture of cooperation and interoperability” between the personnel of the various services involved in managing internal security incidents. After the completion of the Games, the Hellenic Police established (2005) its own Crisis Management Directorate and Unified Operations Centre. Despite various other piecemeal changes, such as the establishment of services or special police squads, the legacy of the Olympic Games would continue to define internal security in Greece for a decade. Notable changes included the Ministry of Public Order being renamed the Ministry of Citizen Protection (2009), in an effort to emphasize the “human security” dimension, and the Harbour Corps being renamed the Hellenic Coast Guard and incorporated into the Ministry of Citizen Protection (2011). This change was a consequence of the increase in migratory flows towards Greece, and was the first attempt to create a Ministry of “internal security”. However, this change did not last long, as the Hellenic Coast Guard came under the control of the Ministry of Shipping in 2012.
The most significant effort to effect changes in the field of internal security came in 2014 in the context of Law 4249, which related to the reorganization of the Hellenic Police, the Fire Brigade, and the General Secretariat of Civil Protection. The Law established the “Single Coordinating Centre for Operations and Crisis Management” within Hellenic Police Headquarters through the merger of the Crisis Management Directorate and Single Operations Centre to ensure direct and fuller coordination and guidance among those services of the Hellenic Police responsible for dealing with emergencies and critical internal security incidents.
Another significant change in the structure of the Hellenic Police—and one closely bound up with the increase in migration flows and the need to strengthen border protection—was the establishment of the ”Migrants and Borders Service” to border protection and migrationmanagement issues in a coordinated way. The “Directorate for the Management and Analysis of Information” was established at the same time to collect, analyse and assess information in order to tackle all forms of crime, with an emphasis on terrorism and organized crime, along with the “Internal Security Crisis Management Coordination Service” (ICMCS), which was charged with ensuring cooperation between the organizations and services involved at both the strategic and operational level, enabling combined inter-service actions. However, although provided for legislatively, this Service has never been implemented.
The Ministry of Citizen Protection also set up the “National Coordination Centre for Border Control, Immigration and Asylum” (NCCBCIA), chiefly to coordinate the actions of all the bodies involved with immigration and asylum issues at the national level. The NCCBCIA reports directly to the Minister of Citizen Protection and serves as the “National Coordination Centre” for the implementation of the national border surveillance system and the exchange of information with the corresponding Centres in other Member States as well as with Frontex.
For its part, the General Secretariat for Civil Protection (GSCP) is charged with protecting the lives and property of citizens, along with critical infrastructures and the natural environment from disasters both natural and man-made. For many years, the Civil Protection strategy was based on two plans: the General Civil Protection Plan known as “Xenocrates” and the Special Plan for Managing Human Losses.
For its part, the General Secretariat for Civil Protection (GSCP) is charged with protecting the lives and property of citizens, along with critical infrastructures and the natural environment from disasters both natural and man-made. For many years, the Civil Protection strategy was based on two plans: the General Civil Protection Plan known as “Xenocrates” and the Special Plan for Managing Human Losses. At the operational level, the Unified Coordination Centre for Operations, which is responsible for coordinating actions and human and material resources during emergency response operations, has been up and running since 2014. The Fire Brigade Operations Centre, the Civil Protection Operations Centre and the Forest Fire-fighting Brigade Operations Centre all form units within it.
The operability and effectiveness of the system of Civil Protection was put to the test in dramatic fashion by both the floods in Mandra, Attica (November 2017) and the devastating fire in Mati, Attica (July 2018); it proved inadequate in both cases.
The operability and effectiveness of the system of Civil Protection was put to the test in dramatic fashion by both the floods in Mandra, Attica (November 2017) and the devastating fire in Mati, Attica (July 2018); it proved inadequate in both cases. The speed of developments and the need for an immediate reaction in emergency situations made an effective and flexible centralized crisis management mechanism a necessity. The mechanism should have direct access to all the bodies involved, both at the operational and political leadership levels, and be charged with identifying a crisis in good time, elaborating scenarios, and effectively coordinating the various services and agencies involved. This was the context and the rationale for the establishment of the “National Crisis Management and Risk Response Mechanism”.
Through the reform of the civil protection and crisis management sector a strategic approach to disaster cycle management was brought into being, which is made up of the National Database of Disaster Data, Risks, Threats and Losses; the General Emergency Response and Impact Management Plans; the National Civil Protection Plan; and the National Disaster Risk Reduction Policy. In addition, in the context of the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, in March 2020, the position of Deputy Minister of Civil Protection and Crisis Management was created within the Ministry of Citizen Protection. The new deputy minister was given oversight of the General Secretariat of Civil Protection, including all the units which reported to it, the Fire Brigade, as well as all the civil protection operational and administrative structures and functions which together constitute the National Crisis Management and Risk Response Mechanism.
However, the devastating flash fires in Attica, Evia and the Peloponnese in August 2021, though fortunately not accompanied by loss of life, revealed that the existing civil protection system was still incapable of providing an effective response to forest fires. This led to an autonomous Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection being set up in September 2021 to bolster the civil protection mechanism in terms of fire prevention and preparedness, as well as the defensive fire-fighting system. Several competencies were transferred to the new Ministry, including the General Secretariat of Civil Protection and the Fire Brigade along with responsibilities from other ministries, including the relevant department from the Directorate of Climate Change and Atmospheric Quality of the General Directorate of Environmental Policy, and oversight of the Earthquake Planning and Protection Unit from the Ministry of Infrastructure.
Institutional changes have also been made regarding crisis and emergency management in the health sector. Law 4633/2019 established the Directorate of Operational Preparedness for Public Health Emergencies, which replaced the National Health Operations Centre (NCHOC). In addition, the independent Health Operations Department (KEPY-EKAB) and Unified Operations Coordination Centre were set up and brought online at the National Centre For Emergency Assistance (EKAB).
It should also be noted that, apart from the identified weaknesses and inadequacies of specific units and/or services within the system of internal security, the overall interconnectivity between the crisis management services.
It should also be noted that, apart from the identified weaknesses and inadequacies of specific units and/or services within the system of internal security, the overall interconnectivity between the crisis management services within the Ministry of Citizen Protection and the Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection, and all the other relevant crisis management services within the country’s other two national security pillars, namely the Ministries of National Defence and Foreign Affairs, remains a cause of concern (although the successful handling of the Evros crisis in March 2020 revealed a functional collaboration between the specific services of the Ministry of Citizen Protection and the Ministry of National Defence). Finally, crisis management within the Hellenic Coast Guard is carried out through the Coast Guard Operations Centre, which coordinates the management of crises and incidents within the Coast Guard’s area of responsibility.
At the level of institutional policies and strategic documents on internal security, one should also mention the “White Paper on Citizen Protection” published in March 2021 by the Ministry of Citizen Protection. The white paper in question outlines the key priorities of internal security policy and the reforms required for the Hellenic Police (EL.AS) to transition into a “Police force for the 21st century”. In addition, the Hellenic Police has formulated two strategic documents which are however more operational in nature. The first concerns the “Strategic and Operational Programme” and includes the strategic objectives of the Hellenic Police, while the second relates to the “Anti-Crime Policy Programme” and presents the primary axes of the programme designed to prevent and combat crime in various forms. It should be noted that these documents are updated every five years. In addition, particular agencies of the Hellenic Police have developed specific strategies and action plans for dealing with threats (the “National Strategy for Integrated Border Management 2018—2020”, the “National Plan for Managing Public Outdoor Gatherings”, the “Strategy for Combating Human Trafficking”, etc.), along with special plans for countering terrorist attacks, hostage situations etc. from escalating.
The Ministry of Digital Governance has the main coordinating role in cyber security, which also falls within the ambit of the Ministry of National Defence (MoD), the Ministry of Citizen Protection, and the National Intelligence Service (NIS). In this context, in 2018, the then Ministry of Digital Policy published its “National Cybersecurity Strategy” defining the state’s central planning for cybersecurity. Also, since 2017, the General Directorate of Cybersecurity has been designated the National Cybersecurity Authority with a responsibility for implementing and updating Greece’s National Cybersecurity Strategy. In December 2020, the National Cybersecurity Authority issued the new “National Cybersecurity Strategy 2020–2025”. The central objective of this strategic document is to put in place “a modern and secure digital environment of information and network infrastructures, applications and services which helps promote economic and social well-being by guaranteeing citizens’ fundamental rights, developing a safe use culture for digital services and applications, and increasing the confidence of citizens and businesses in digital technologies”.
…the Cybersecurity Coordination Committee was created and charged with planning, monitoring, and coordinating actions, intervening in issues touching upon cybersecurity from preventing through to effectively responding to cyberattacks and minimizing their impact.
Significant changes in the field of cybersecurity were also enacted by Law 5002/ 2022, titled “Procedure for lifting the confidentiality of communications, cybersecurity and the protection of citizens’ personal data“. Specifically, the Cybersecurity Coordination Committee was created and charged with planning, monitoring, and coordinating actions, intervening in issues touching upon cybersecurity from preventing through to effectively responding to cyberattacks and minimizing their impact. The Committee’s responsibilities include: (a) providing guidance in the case of an extraordinary event which poses a strategic risk, (b) coordinating, monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the National Cybersecurity Strategy, (c) approving the National Emergency Plan, and (d) briefing the Governmental Council of National Security (KYSEA) on all cybersecurity-related issues. The Law’s second important provision was the creation of the National Risk Assessment Plan for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) systems.
Pandemic, poly-crises, and the institutional challenges ahead
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need to further develop the security systems in place in EU Member States, while also making it clear to all that threats in the form of pandemics could be as, or even more, dangerous, and deadly than terrorism or the other types of threat that have dominated the political and public discourse in recent years. A reassessment and re-prioritization of the threats is thus required, but also of the means available for preventing, managing, and responding to these threats.
Despite Greece’s particularly successful response and management of the pandemic, the latter still made it clear that crisis management systems have their limits and that states, including Greece, need to create a new institutional and operational culture of crisis management capable of responding effectively to the challenge posed by “poly-crises”, i.e. crises that occur simultaneously and have different characteristics and intensity, such as the pandemic, the border crisis in Evros, natural disasters, etc. The changes in the way states function, but also in citizens’ everyday lives, brought about by the pandemic and the measures taken to manage it, led to the emergence of new threats and risks and/or to the evolution of existing ones, as in the case of crime. By implication, the latter also highlights the need to adapt anti-crime policies and operations to the new reality.
The pandemic has also made it clear that “guns or butter” dilemma (armaments or economic development) has no place in an era in which threats do not stop at borders and cannot be confronted militarily.
The pandemic has also made it clear that “guns or butter” dilemma (armaments or economic development) has no place in an era in which threats do not stop at borders and cannot be confronted militarily. Thus the first lesson to be learned from the pandemic is that Greece needs to evolve into a modern security state. The COVID-19 pandemic arrived at a time when Greece was successfully dealing with other crises, the most important being the crisis in Evros caused by Turkey attempting to flood Greece with massed migrants. Which is to say the pandemic highlighted in the clearest possible way that we have already entered an era of poly-crises. And that is why it is crucial Greece can manage crises that manifest themselves in different ways and at different levels of intensity both effectively and holistically. At the same time, it is necessary to expand the crisis management mechanism to include threats and crises such as pandemics, which are significantly different from natural and technological disasters. This reality highlights the need for new synergies in various policy areas, such as public health. In February 2020, the passing of the bill on the National Mechanism for Crisis and Risk Management set a major reform effort in motion—or should have, had it not remained unimplemented, due to the pandemic. By implication there is still a need to transition into this new strategic and operational environment by integrating pandemics as far as possible into the national mechanism for crisis management.
The second lesson relates to the need to manage crises in a holistic way and to place particular emphasis on identifying pandemics early and preventing their spread. To achieve these objectives, the security crisis management system will need to be reorganized and its interoperability enhanced (in particular vis-a-vis the management of poly-crises). Procedures will also need to be defined for identifying and preventing the impact pandemics can have, and technological tools for crisis management tested and exploited. At a pan-European level, and in accordance with EUROPOL reports, the pandemic’s most significant impacts on crime concern the increase in cybercrime, in the trade in counterfeit and pirated goods, and in activities relating to property crime (warehouse burglaries, theft of health supplies, foodstuffs, etc.). There has also been an increase in dis/ misinformation and fake news prompted by the pandemic, and even attempts on the part of various extremist groups to exploit the pandemic as a propaganda tool.
Taking advantage of the increase in transactions with the state as well as in the number of financial and commercial activities conducted online, cybercriminals showed that they had both the capability and the tools to adapt immediately to the new conditions created by the pandemic, with new and sophisticated attacks recorded from the very start. Another important trend noted in several EU Member States was the increase in demand for, and the supply and thus the availability, of pornographic material involving minors and live child abuse. Finally, an increase in the incidence of domestic violence reported by various bodies and agencies during the pandemic also gave rise to considerable concern.
Consequently, beyond the classic threats to internal security, the crises of the future cover an extremely wide range of potential threats and challenges that may arise from political, economic, social, and environmental instability, both in Greece’s immediate neighbourhood and beyond it.
Consequently, beyond the classic threats to internal security, the crises of the future cover an extremely wide range of potential threats and challenges that may arise from political, economic, social, and environmental instability, both in Greece’s immediate neighbourhood and beyond it. As the “poly-crises” Greece has already had to manage (the border crisis in Evros, the pandemic, natural disasters, tensions with Turkey) have shown, it is essential that the security crisis management system be organized, and that updated procedures are in place to coordinate the efforts of the various operational centres involved, allowing such poly-crises to be managed in a holistic way. Also required are an “early warning system” and escalating poly-crisis scenarios with a focus on “Black Swans” and tackling crises proactively.
The main goal here is to bring about a generalized change of mindset and modus operandi, and this is directly linked to the need for significant changes in the field of education and training at all levels. Also, achieving sufficient cross-sectoral coordination between the state and governmental services involved (Police, Fire Brigade, Coast Guard, NIS, local government), both operationally during emergencies and in terms of cooperation in responding preventively to various security problems, should be given extremely high priority.
In this context, institutional solutions should be sought, with an emphasis on personnel in the different sectors being trained together and developing a shared mindset. International collaborations can also be particularly useful, both because they allow know-how to be acquired and integrated rapidly, and because certain challenges to Greece’s security have a prominent international dimension (e.g. irregular migration, transnational organized crime, international terrorism) and cannot be addressed and tackled by purely national means. Of course, efforts to increase professionalism presuppose the self-evident: meritocracy, elimination of party and union interference, and a change in mindset of the political personnel as well as of the society regarding the operation and role of the state’s security services.
Current economic and other difficulties make it even more important to strengthen the current institutional and organizational framework for the management of emergency situations and for responding comprehensively to multi-dimensional and multi-level challenges and threats to internal and national security. Only a comprehensive strategic plan including provisions to strengthen the institutional mechanism for handling all traditional and contemporary threats, challenges and risks can provide a coherent response, not only to the existing complex security issues, but also to those that will appear in the -immediate?- future in Greece’s unstable neighbourhood.
Addressing the new security threats and challenges
The ongoing geopolitical developments and competition between regional powers in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, but especially the war in Ukraine that followed Russia’s invasion, have ushered in new realities in the regional security environment.
The ongoing geopolitical developments and competition between regional powers in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, but especially the war in Ukraine that followed Russia’s invasion, have ushered in new realities in the regional security environment. In addition, the changing nature of the existing threats and the emergence of new ones, the violent actions of non-state actors, the rapid development of technology, and the polarization of European societies as a result of major economic and social crises have also impacted on security conditions. Due to its geographical location on the external border of the EU, but also due to the crises it has experienced in recent years, Greece faces several threats and challenges to its internal security.
The Migration/Refugee Challenge
Migration is one of the most salient issues of our time. Moreover, it is not a linear problem that can be easily solved. In fact it can only be managed. Population movements have a range of different causes and require a combination of multiple and varied policies and instruments to address and manage them. It is self-evident that migration has multiple aspects and implications. Since it has the movement of people at its heart, it has a powerful humanitarian dimension, even if most of such movements are not forced. But migration is also a security issue. In fact, it could be argued that migration is one of the most complex of all security issues, since it can be a risk, a threat as well as a challenge. Migration has also security implications at different levels. In essence, there is a security nexus in which national, internal, and human security are intertwined. Indeed, to a certain extent, states are currently striving to strike a delicate balance between national and internal security in policies which emphasize both on the protection of national borders andalso on all seven dimensions of human security outlined above.
It is also wort noting that Greece’s inability to effectively integrate the refugees/immigrants who are obliged to remain in the country could lead to violent radicalization, as it has in several other European countries.
It is also wort noting that Greece’s inability to effectively integrate the refugees/immigrants who are obliged to remain in the country could lead to violent radicalization, as it has in several other European countries. Moreover, Greece must not become the “soft underbelly” of European security through which radical elements can pass easily into Western Europe. Mass illegal migration flows thus pose a potential threat to Greek national security. Attempts to weaponize the migration issue by countries like Turkey, and by non-state actors such as organized crime networks, poses the greatest danger of all for Greece. There is also a risk of the mass production of forged or fake travel documents and of individuals with extreme extremist ideologies infiltrating migratory flows. Housing different ethnicities and the living conditions in shelters could also lead to violence erupting in or around the facilities.
In this context, we should not overlook the security crises that can arise from migration. We experienced this most markedly in Greece in 2020: one version of such a crisis was provided by the events in Evros: a foreign country instrumentalizing migrants by inciting them to enter Greece illegally and en masse is the epitome of a border crisis. The second version is that witnessed in the migrant camp in Moria, Lesvos: namely, the arson attack on the reception facilities and the violent reactions of several asylum seekers.
Climate change and environmental problems
The degradation and destruction of the environment on both a local and a planetary scale has become a major concern in recent years for scientists, government officials, and international relations analysts alike, with the latter expressing fears that it could lead to inter- and intra-state conflicts and/or exacerbate existing conflicts. In addition, it is expected to provoke significant population movements (environmental refugees/migrants). It should be noted that there is a clear link between the aforementioned issues as well as uncertainty over when the tangible impacts of given environmental disasters will manifest themselves. It should also be borne in mind that there are environmental thresholds about which we know very little, apart from the fact that exceeding them could cause the immediate collapse of an ecosystem.
How will Greece be affected by the global and regional environmental changes that are likely to occur? Climate change, its magnitude uncertain for now, will impact negatively on the wider Mediterranean region in various ways. In the case of Greece, however, if the most pessimistic scenarios prove accurate, the most significant long-term damage will be the ‘Saharafication’ of the climate and its consequences for water resources, tourism, agricultural production, and quality of life. How will we manage the environmental crises (e.g., a significant rise in sea levels as a result of global warming), and how can we adapt the whole country to the new conditions that ensue, if this is required? Any adaptation and management measures need to be taken in good time, since this will increase their effectiveness and reduce their costs.
For Greece, the greatest risk is posed by forest fires, while other extreme events such as floods, heavy snowfall and earthquakes also constitute significant risks.
Natural disasters form a distinct type of threat within the sphere of climate crisis. For Greece, the greatest risk is posed by forest fires, while other extreme events such as floods, heavy snowfall and earthquakes also constitute significant risks. In the case of disasters, there is always a worst-case scenario. The contingencies should be viewed at three levels: a “catastrophic scenario” is on the scale of the tragedy in Mati, Attica; a “bad scenario” would be at the level of the intensive and extensive forest fires of summer 2021; a “good scenario” could relate to fires similar to those of 2022, which the state mechanism managed successfully.
Despite the predictions and scenarios, there is always the possibility of a “black swan”: an unforeseen event—a crisis such as a pandemic, or a situation such as the one that came about in December 2008—that can radically change security conditions. The list of emergencies is long and extremely varied in terms of the likelihood of their occurrence, and includes incidents such as forest/wildfires, pandemics, cyberattacks, actions by extremist groups and intended or unintended social tensions in the context of hybrid attacks, irredentist initiatives, etc. In particular, the appearance and management of the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the multiple security and public order dimensions a crisis of this sort can entail. Indeed, the global threat posed by the pandemic has led to dramatic changes in the spheres of health, the economy, and social and political organization at the local, national, regional and global level. It crash tested the limits of the methodological tools available for understanding and explaining the complex, plural and bidirectional nature of international politics. At the same time, as a protean global crisis and accelerator of developments, it shed light on the type and nature of the multiform, multilevel crises that both states and international organizations are increasingly being called upon to manage.
Also, the prolonged period of polarization and social tensions/reactions, especially from young people, has created an environment of radicalization that could lead to an escalation in violent incidents.
Also, the prolonged period of polarization and social tensions/reactions, especially from young people, has created an environment of radicalization that could lead to an escalation in violent incidents. In the worst-case scenario, these could take the form of violent extremism and destruction of the sort witnessed in Athens in December 2008–events which proved to be a catalyst for radicalization and development in the sphere of Far Left and anarchist extremism. Of course, a train of events that creates widespread hardship—as the Greek economic crisis did in 2008 and the pandemic did more recently—can also lead to the rise of violent Far Right extremism.
Greece, like the other countries of the European South, has faced challenges in recent years that could foster Islamist radicalization and thus be exploited by terrorist organizations. The greatest risk may arise from the possible exploitation of migration flows by members of extremist and terrorist groups, along with the use of existing organized crime networks to support radicalized individuals and terrorists (through the provision of forged documents, the facilitating of travel, etc.). However, members of foreign terrorist organizations are also active in Greece whose political ideology and/or background is targeted at other countries (e.g. the DKHP-C which targets Turkey).
At the domestic level, the challenges centre on issues of failed integration and the crisis of identity currently being experienced by second- and increasingly third-generation Muslim immigrants and refugees from the Middle East, North Africa and Asia (primarily in Athens, where the majority of Muslims live). There is also the danger of migrants and refugees being radicalized within reception facilities or in prison, and the possibility of radicalized foreigners joining forces with domestic terrorist organizations or organized crime networks.
There is also a risk of migrant communities from countries, not necessarily Muslim, which have irredentist aspirations or where such rhetoric is widespread being subject to nationalist radicalization. Finally, the most important risk from radicalization leading to violent extremism concerns extreme political ideologies. After December 2008, but also during the fiscal adjustment period, there was a radicalization of a significant number of people, both towards the extreme left and anarchist spectrum, as well as towards the extreme right. This is why we have seen violent acts by groups or individuals from both sides.
International and domestic terrorism and violent extremism
Islamist terrorism has been the most significant threat to international and European security for almost two decades. The war in Ukraine has radically changed the hierarchy of threats, but international terrorism remains high on the list. In recent years, organizations such as ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Al Nusra, Al Shabaab, AQAP and AQIM have taken advantage of the unrest and instability in the Middle East and North Africa—and particularly the conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen—to consolidate their power and influence. The fact that ISIS controlling territories larger than Great Britain at one point, and could declare the creation of a Caliphate in Iraq and Syria in 2014, is indicative. In addition, that organization’s actions have had significant consequences for the global jihadist movement. Most notably, ISIS: (a) pioneered the systematic use of the Internet and social media; (b) linked the expectation of the end of the world and the coming of the Apocalypse (messianic propaganda) with the ability to take direct action on the battlefield; and (c) expanded the pool of radicalized individuals, including those with criminal backgrounds, who can be recruited as terrorists. As a result, a particularly large number of people from all over the world have been mobilized and joined terrorist organizations. In addition, ISIS also encouraged, planned, coordinated, and inspired most of the terrorist attacks worldwide between 2015 and 2018.
Despite suffering significant losses, far from ending their activities, the main Islamist terrorist organizations are now modifying their strategy and actions to the new global conditions. ISIS and Al Qaeda in particular are putting the Internet to systematic use in order to maintain their presence, as well as to mobilize their members and lone actors to carry out attacks. Jihadist internet propaganda is quite sophisticated and largely carried out through encrypted communication platforms (Telegram, Signal, etc.), various forums on the Dark Web, and social media.
While the threat from Far-Right terrorism cannot be compared with the scale of the threat posed by Islamist terrorism, Far-Right violent extremism and terrorism has been on the rise in recent years and are of particular concern in the EU and the US, and this is obvious to the recent risk assessment reports and to the official security documents.
While the threat from Far-Right terrorism cannot be compared with the scale of the threat posed by Islamist terrorism, Far-Right violent extremism and terrorism has been on the rise in recent years and are of particular concern in the EU and the US, and this is obvious to the recent risk assessment reports and to the official security documents.
Although international terrorism is not currently the most significant threat to Greece, as the country has not been directly targeted by international terrorist organizations for many years, the competent Greek authorities remain aware, given the ever-growing number of terrorist attacks across an ever larger area, both within and outside the EU. Greece’s geographical location on Europe’s external borders provides additional cause for awareness, primarily because the country could be used as a transit route by people with unclear intentions (Europeans and non-Europeans) on the move to and from war zones.
The risk posed by competition between growing extremisms and by clashes between warring extremist groups (Far Right versus anarchist and Far Left), or the targeting of migrants, is particularly high. Finally, the threat posed by lone actors associated with violent extremism and terrorism or interpersonal violence is becoming ever greater.
Greece is one of the few countries in the EU that has faced the threat of domestic terrorism and violent extremism for many years. Despite the significant successes of the Hellenic Police and the dismantling of the main terrorist organizations that emerged and were active in the period following the return to democracy in 1974 (E.O. 17N, ELA), plus the arrest of the core members of the next generation of terrorist organizations (Revolutionary Struggle, Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire, Revolutionary Self-Defence, etc.), Far Left/Anarchist terrorism remains the most significant threat facing Greece. The majority of extremist activities in our country are perpetrated by Far-Left and anarchist groups. Both also have strong international links with extremist groups in Europe, but also in Latin America. The danger from violent Far-Right extremism, though present, is not as severe. There are also violent activist and extremist groups inspired by extreme beliefs and/or various conspiracy theories centred on the peril posed by vaccinations, on “technophobia” and 5G technology, etc.; these groups experienced a major surge in popularity and support during the pandemic period. The risk posed by competition between growing extremisms and by clashes between warring extremist groups (Far-Right versus anarchist and Far-Left), or the targeting of migrants, is particularly high. Finally, the threat posed by lone actors associated with violent extremism and terrorism or interpersonal violence is becoming ever greater.
The rapid development of technology and the constant growth in online activity also creates conditions in which users with the requisite know-how and skills can commit crimes remotely. The most significant cybersecurity threats include financial fraud, the sexual exploitation of minors, cyber-dependent crimes, the dissemination of fake news, and cyberattacks using malware against critical infrastructures, strategic networks, and government services. The risk of a “combined” hybrid attack with a cyber element should also be highlighted. Organized crime and terrorism networks mobilizing on the Dark Web to traffic arms and drugs, spread propaganda, radicalize and recruit fighters, and finance terrorist attacks also poses a significant risk. Equally important is the threat of cyberattacks of the sort launched against the Greek Post Office, chiefly in the form of ransomware: i.e. a malware attack aimed at extracting a ransom from the owner of the device/network/service.
Indeed, hybrid threats combine military and non-military activities both conventional and otherwise, which can be coordinated by state and non-state actors alike to achieve specific political objectives. Hybrid campaigns are multidimensional, combine coercive and subversive measures, and employ conventional and non-conventional tools and tactics. Designed to be difficult to locate or capture, they target critical vulnerabilities and seek to spread confusion in order to prevent decisions being taken rapidly and effectively. Hybrid threats may involve cyberattacks on critical information systems, the disruption of critical services such as energy grids or financial services, the undermining of public trust in state institutions, or the deliberate exacerbation of social divisions. As digitalization proceeds in various sectors (e.g., security services, national defence, banking, tax authorities, social security organizations, etc.), every nation is now vulnerable to direct and most probably anonymous attacks by foreign countries, criminal organizations, or other non-state actors (such as ethnic groups seeking independence, terrorists, etc.)
There are two hybrid threat scenarios in the case of Greece. The first is a crisis of similar intensity and magnitude to the one that unfolded in Evros in February/March 2020, though accompanied this time by an extensive disinformation campaign against the country.
There are two hybrid threat scenarios in the case of Greece. The first is a crisis of similar intensity and magnitude to the one that unfolded in Evros in February/March 2020, though accompanied this time by an extensive disinformation campaign against the country. The second scenario may involve attempts to interfere in the electoral process, whether through disinformation calling into question the validity and integrity of the election process, or through cyberattacks (denial of service—DDoS—attacks, for instance) which can create problems and delays on the digital network.
Transnational organized crime
Transnational organized crime poses a challenge to national sovereignty and, if its spread is not checked, could help to undermine the nation-state in the 21st century. At the national level, a key characteristic of the state is its control over its own territory. However, this national sovereignty is violated when the state is unable to control the movement of arms, people and drugs within its borders. Such a failure entails a marked erosion in national sovereignty. The high degree of international cooperation observed in recent years between organized crime groups continues to increase; the geographical scope of their activities continues to expand through such collaborations.
The most dangerous forms of organized crime in Greece are the illegal trafficking of migrants, drugs and arms trafficking, the smuggling of goods, human trafficking, and the activities of the organized criminal groups that control various forms of crime (pimping, protection rackets, extortion, kidnapping, etc.) and both operate and are structured in the style of the Mafia.
The most dangerous forms of organized crime in Greece are the illegal trafficking of migrants, drugs and arms trafficking, the smuggling of goods, human trafficking, and the activities of the organized criminal groups that control various forms of crime (pimping, protection rackets, extortion, kidnapping, etc.) and both operate and are structured in the style of the Mafia. All these crimes have a strong cross-border element, and in many cases criminal groups in Greece maintain close links with groups abroad and vice versa. In addition to the above forms of organized crime, crimes against property (robbery, theft, burglary, fraud, etc.), corruption, money laundering, and the penetration of criminal organizations into the country’s legaleconomy are considered to pose particularly significant risks. Finally, the link between organized crime and terrorism—which is developed primarily within the prison system—is a problem that requires special attention.
Other forms of violence (domestic violence, violence perpetrated by minors, hooliganism, etc.)
Another form of non-politically- or religiously motivated violence is emerging in parallel with extremist violence. It has spread throughout societies and has three main observable dynamics. The first is violence as a means of resolving personal disputes. Several violent incidents in recent years have begun as simple confrontations but escalated, sometimes to the point of murder or manslaughter. As such, this pre-modern turn recalls the violence that was an integral part of dispute settlementin the rural societies of early modern Greece.
The second dynamic is violence as a means of acquiring an identity. The absence of linear progress in the lives of many young people, especially minors, has led to a widespread crisis of identity. Many have responded by joining organizations or groups that glorify and support acts of violence as a simplistic route to belonging. These incidents of violence come in two main forms: (a) violence between groups of minors, and (b) violence perpetrated by or between hooligans. In many cases, these two categories overlap since the average age of hooligans has fallen significantly.
…the main threat comes from domestic violence and femicide in the main, but also from juvenile violence and delinquency.
The third dynamic relates to the culture and symbolism of violence. Femicides, domestic violence and racist attacks shed light on violence as an aspect of a culture of “superiority”. Finally, the symbolism of violence that is associated either with the use of lethal means, such as the sickle, or the use of the Internet to promote bloodshed, is the worst of all. In this context, the main threat comes from domestic violence and femicide in the main, but also from juvenile violence and delinquency.
Internal Security Strategy
Internal security is a broad concept that includes security in terms of the fight against crime, violence, and terrorism, but also safety as protection against natural and technological disasters and the management of both security crises and crises that impact on internal security. The “Internal Security Strategy” thus puts in place a framework for building a modern “ecosystem of security and safety”. The extended requirement for security/safety relates to four elements: Security, Development, Dignity and Resilience.
The “Internal Security Strategy” is: (a) complex, due to the many and diverse threats, risks and challenges it must deal with, plus the need to handle “poly-crisis” situations; and (b) broad, as it requires that security be provided and guaranteed in many different areas, from borders to the Internet. At the same time, the Internal Security Strategy must be (c) cooperative, as it requires cooperation and coordination between multiple agencies and services, and (d) comprehensive, as its responses must be all-embracing and combine prevention with counter initiatives. (Table 2)
In particular, the Internal Security Strategy must be grounded in total respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, but also serve to defend the values of the Hellenic Republic and the European Union; only thus can it be legitimate, effective and sustainable. It is thus grounded in common European values; respects and upholds the rule of law, equality and fundamental rights; and seeks to ensure transparency, accountability and democratic control.
Security and respect for fundamental rights are not conflicting objectives but coherent and complementary. Indeed, security policies must be underpinned by the values and fundamental rights of Greek citizens, to ensure that the necessary safeguards of accountability and judicial recourse are in place, while also allowing for an effective response to protect all citizens, and the most vulnerable in particular. The Greek state is thus called upon to ensure a safe environment for all, regardless of racial or ethnic origin, religion, beliefs, gender, age, or sexual orientation. It should be also be considered that minorities and vulnerable persons, including people targeted because of their religion or gender, are disproportionately affected, and thus require special care and protection.
It lays out a comprehensive approach to security which can respond effectively to the rapidly changing threat landscape in a coordinated way. It also identifies strategic priorities and the corresponding actions by which the threats and challenges identified can be addressed in a holistic and coherent way.
The draft Internal Security Strategy proposed in this document covers the period 2023–2025 and focuses on building capacities and capabilities to ensure a security environment that is sustainable in the long term. It lays out a comprehensive approach to security which can respond effectively to the rapidly changing threat landscape in a coordinated way. It also identifies strategic priorities and the corresponding actions by which the threats and challenges identified can be addressed in a holistic and coherent way.
Internal Security Strategy: The Vehicle for Security Sector Reform
…the combination of means, personnel and procedures that can provide security and manage crises and risks.
In addition, the Strategy will help build a system of internal security governance as well as a coordination procedure, i.e., the combination of means, personnel and procedures that can provide security and manage crises and risks. It also includes the organizational structure, roles and responsibilities, performance metrics and evaluation tools, procedures and monitoring, as well as impacting on security policy in a holistic way.
Specifically, the internal security governance:
- Ensures that the appropriate resources are allocated, and the appropriate procedures follow in the manner laid out in the governance framework.
- Lists, categorizes, and coordinates the multiple power centres involved, each in a different way and with different means and processes at its disposal for managing threats, risks and crises.
- Encompasses the interaction with actors beyond the narrow apparatus of state, including non-state and private bodies.
- Regulates the relationships and synergies between the actors within a framework made up of shared norms and ideas (a common security culture).
The objectives of the Internal Security Strategy are:
- Anticipating and identifying risks and threats early.
- Preventing and addressing all threats and risks
- Protecting critical infrastructures and citizens in their daily lives.
- Preventing and effectively managing internal security crises by strengthening “multi-agency cooperation” and “interoperability”.
- Making society more resilient against risks and disasters and improving the possibility of a return to normality.
- Developing a “strategic culture of cooperation” among the various bodies in the public and private sector.
The actions of the Internal Security Strategy relate to the following five (5) pillars (Table 4):
The “Internal Security Ecosystem”
Anticipation and early identification
The anticipation and early identification of threats, challenges, risks and “Black Swans” can lead to the design of a long-term Internal Security Strategy and to effective crisis management.
The anticipation and early identification of threats, challenges, risks and “Black Swans” can lead to the design of a long-term Internal Security Strategy and to effective crisis management. Cooperation with the scientific and research community is important here, so that public authorities can make use of new knowledge relating to the challenges posed by the threats and risks identified and how they could evolve. It also requires the use of foresight methodologies and new technologies—algorithmic models and artificial intelligence applications—which will describe possible scenarios involving changes in the internal and external security environment, as well as the evolution of risks and threats. It is also essential that the use of research and innovation by end-users be intensified.
Prevention and Resilience
Resilience refers to societies’ ability to manage the effects of a crisis, disaster, or attack in order to limit losses and avoid any further escalation.
Prevention has two main elements: (a) designing and implementing interventions aimed at proactively defending against threats such as violent extremism or domestic violence, with an emphasis on “imulti-agency” cooperation and on providing support for vulnerable groups and individuals; and (b) developing “early warning systems” to enable an early response to disasters or criminal acts. Resilience refers to societies’ ability to manage the effects of a crisis, disaster, or attack in order to limit losses and avoid any further escalation.
Protection and Counter
Equally important is the elaboration of a holistic security policy of critical infrastructures which will include the requisite security measures, but also the mechanism for monitoring the compliance of infrastructure operators in both public and private sectors.
Public spaces, soft targets and critical infrastructures are at the heart of actions aimed at protecting against internal security threats. An integrated protection framework which will include specific security plans and the use of technology, public-private cooperation, enhancing the response capabilities of security bodies, and the timely exchange of information at the national and international levels are all necessary and critical if the Internal Security Strategy is to effectively address emerging threats and internal security challenges. Equally important is the elaboration of a holistic security policy of critical infrastructures which will include the requisite security measures, but also the mechanism for monitoring the compliance of infrastructure operators in both public and private sectors.
Crisis communication management, which largely involves raising awareness and keeping citizens informed directly so they can respond in the best way possible (and thus contribute to the effective management of a crisis or emergency), is a first pillar of the communication strategy. The competent authorities can use technology and social media to help keep the public updated in real time (as an incident unfolds), providing appropriate instructions and thereby both protecting citizens and allowing the authorities to intervene without hindrance from the public. The second pillar of the communication strategy lies in addressing specific threats such as terrorism. In this case, strategic communication emphasizes actions to counter online propaganda, boost critical thinking, and deconstruct the terrorists’ ideology. Finally, tackling diisinformation and fake news is another key element of the Communication Strategy since both can create an emergency and/or play a decisive role in escalating an existing crisis while reducing citizens’ confidence in institutions.
Return to Normality
This action relates to the elaboration of specific plans which involve every competent body and seek to affect a return to normality as soon as possible after a crisis/disaster/emergency, but also to keep the basic functions and critical infrastructures of the state up and running without interruption.
Proposals for change and reform
Amending the legislative framework to protect and enhance the resilience of critical infrastructures so it can keep pace with risks as they evolve, cope with the increased interconnectedness and interdependence of different spheres of social activity.
The effective elaboration of the specific actions included in our country’s Internal Security Strategy entails reform of the internal security system. As a priority, and mirroring similar proposals for change at the European and global level, the proposed directions for change and reform relate to:
(a) building the capacity to detect, prevent and respond in a timely and rapid fashion to emerging security crises by means of an integrated and coordinated approach, both holistically and through initiatives in specific sectors (e.g. finance, energy, justice, law enforcement, health, transport) using the tools available.
(b) amending the legislative framework to protect and enhance the resilience of critical infrastructures so it can keep pace with risks as they evolve, cope with the increased interconnectedness and interdependence of different spheres of social activity, acquire the capacity to prepare for adverse events in advance and adequately plan its response to them, and—most importantly—enhance its capacity to absorb, recover and adapt as effectively as possible. Specifically, ensuring that the Internet remains up and running entails amendments to the current legislation to ensure a high level of ITC network security, increased investment in research and innovation, and the development and/or strengthening of key internet infrastructure and resources.
(c) the development of synergies between public and private sector bodies in terms of the exchange of security-related information and greater cooperation with other states and EU institutions and agencies in order to build the understanding and exchange mechanisms that are necessary to achieve common objectives. In the area of cybersecurity in particular, cooperation with the private sector and the creation of knowledge-hubs is crucial, as the industry owns a significant part of the digital and non-digital infrastructure that is central to the effective fight against crime and terrorism.
(d) the adaptation of law enforcement and judicial professionals to modern law enforcement methods and new and innovative technologies. Technological developments and emerging threats require law enforcement agencies to access new tools, acquire new skills, and develop alternative investigative techniques. Artificial Intelligence (AI) could serve as a powerful tool in the fight against crime, bringing enormous investigative capabilities into play allowing enormous amounts of data to be analyzed and patterns identified. AI can also help identify terrorist content online as well as suspicious purchases of dangerous products, as well as helping citizens facing emergencies. Harnessing this potential would require research and innovation to establish links with the end-users of AI capabilities, and the active involvement of the private sector and Universities.
(e) raising Greek society’s awareness of security issues and furnishing citizens with skills that will leave them better prepared to deal with potential threats. Even basic knowledge of threats to security and how they are dealt with can serve to make society considerably more resilient. Particular attention should be paid to minorities and the most vulnerable members of society, such as children and/or women who are trafficked for sexual exploitation or exposed to domestic violence. Efforts to enhance the skills of law enforcement personnel should begin at the earliest stages in their careers and continue as they advance. Training law enforcement agencies in matters relating to racism and xenophobia, and civil rights issues especially, should be an essential component of law enforcement personnel’s “security culture”. In addition, every effort should be made towards achieving gender equality, as well as the participation of women in law enforcement.
Several general and more specific proposals can be added to the list of changes and reforms. These could include:
- utilizing new hi-tech risk and threat analysis tools, with an emphasis on open-source analysis and the early detection of network threats
- modernizing and upgrading those services and departments of the Hellenic Police that deal with Islamist radicalization and racist violence
- adopting a strategic and operational philosophy of proactivity
- designing and adopting an integrated Community Policing policy which emphasizes problem-solving at the local level and fostering citizen trust and confidence
- integrating hybrid threats into security crisis management
- developing a National Plan for the protection of Critical Infrastructures and strengthening synergies with the private sector and infrastructures operators
- employing new technologies and contemporary means of mass communication to bring the internal security services into direct contact with the citizenry, and to keep the latter up to date with developments
- engaging with the community and setting up a Community Intelligence system
- staging a multi-agency preparedness drill to assess the system’s capacity to manage multiple crises of different types and level of intensity, and repeating the drill annually
- upgrading cooperation with other security services at home and abroad, cooperating actively with Europol and Interpol and making full strategic use of that cooperation
- establishing a crisis communication management mechanism to deal with the security implications of disinformation and fake news
- emphasizing actions to counter online propaganda and the mobilization and recruitment of terrorists online
- heightening the vocational dimension of education and lifelong learning, and linking it to the model of the “professional of the future”, with an emphasis on training practitioners in identifying and responding to new threats
- implementing a unified counter-terrorism response procedure
- applying to the letter the law on protecting personal data when collecting and processing images and sound by technological means
- creating a “National Centre for the Research and Analysis on Terrorism and Organized Crime”.
 In 2009, the Ministry of Public Order was renamed to “Ministry of Citizen Protection”. In 2012, it was renamed to “Ministry of Public Order and Citizen Protection”. In 2015, it was incorporated into the Ministry of the Interior. Then, in 2018, after the devastating fires in Mati, Attica, it was given its old name back, namely “Ministry of Citizen Protection”.
 Presidential Decree 178/2015 provided for the Unified Coordination Centre for Operations and Crisis Management, designating it a central service of the Hellenic Police Headquarters operating at the level of a Directorate and monitored by the Deputy Chief of Police. The said Centre was charged with: (a) coordinating and ensuring the interoperability of the Services of the Hellenic Police so that all forms of crime, and organised crime in particular, to be countered; (b) planning, organising and testing the Hellenic Police’s critical incident handling system; (c) complying with the operational response plans, (d) providing advisory support to the Critical Incident Command Structure while incidents are being managed; and (e) advising the political leadership of the Hellenic Police in cases of generalised internal security crises at the national level, no matter if the primary responsibility to respond lies with the Hellenic Police or if the Hellenic Police force is operating in support of another competent body.
 Within the framework of the Migrants and Borders Service, the following Directorates were established at Hellenic Police Headquarters: “Border Protection”, “Illegal Immigration Control” (later renamed Directorate for the Management of Migration), “Foreigners and Migrants” and “Operational Planning and Support”.
 In 2014, Presidential Decree 178/2014 established the Cybercrime Unit in Athens and the Cybercrime Sub-Directorate in Thessaloniki. The Cybercrime Unit’s competences include preventing, investigating and curbing crimes and/or anti-social behaviours committed via the internet or other means of electronic communication. The Cybercrime Unit is an independent central service which reports directly to the Chief of the Hellenic Police. The same Presidential Decree also made changes to the structure and operation of the “International Police Cooperation Division”. The most important of these was the establishment of the Joint Data Exchange Centre to serve as a single point of contact for police forces in different countries cooperating on international cases; the Centre includes all the official international and European communication nodes of the Directorate for International Police Cooperation. Information is exchanged with the intention of preventing and combating crime, and of staging operations to counter transnational crime.
 According to the provisions of Law 4058/2012, as amended and replaced by Law 4249/2014, Articles 101-103).
 Law 4249/2014 (Government Gazette A 73/24-3-2014): Reorganization of the Hellenic Police, Fire Brigade and General Secretariat for Civil Protection, upgrading the services of the Ministry of Public Order and Citizen Protection, and regulating other issues within the competence of the Ministry of Public Order and Citizen Protection and other provisions: Establishment of a Unified Operations Coordination Centre (Article 68).
 The “National Mechanism for Crisis Management and Risk Management” was established by Law 4662/2020 (Government Gazette A 27 – 07.02.2020).
 This Law also constitutes the first attempt made to give content to the so-called “reasons for national security” as “those which touch on protecting the state’s core functions and Greek citizens’ fundamental interests, such as and in particular reasons related to national defence, foreign policy, energy security and cyber security”.
 The Commission coordinates: (a) the General Directorate of Cybersecurity within the Ministry of Digital Governance’s General Secretariat of Telecommunications and Post, which has been designated the National Cybersecurity Authority by Law 4577/2018 (Α’ 199); b) the Cyber Defence Directorate of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff, which has been designated the Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT); (c) the Cyberspace Department of the National Intelligence Service, as a national Crime Emergency Response Team (CERT); and (d) the Hellenic Police Force.