Greece Report



Although they are not explicitly related to external conflicts and crises, there are various structures in place in Greece that bring together various authorities and actors and facilitate their cooperation and coordination in a WGA-like manner. The most well-known of those structures, the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA), is the supreme decision-making body on issues of foreign policy and national defence in Greece, and its decisions are binding for all participating agencies. It was first established in 1986 and although its composition has changed many times, at the time of writing (July 2019) it comprised: the prime minister (serving as chairman); the minister of foreign affairs; the minister for citizen protection; the minister for national defence; the minister for shipping and island policy; and the chief of staff of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff (Government Gazette 2019b). In practice, the activities and utility of KYSEA have attracted a lot of criticism. For example, contrary to its stated mandate, the council most often limits itself to issues related to promoting or discharging high-ranking military staff rather than making decisions on the full range of policy fields it is responsible for.
Another structure that draws from the principles of a WGA is the National Council for Foreign Policy (NCFP). According to Law 3132/2003, which set the framework for the NCFP’s establishment, the NCFP comprises: the minister of foreign affairs (serving as chairman); the chairman of the Standing Committee on National Defence and Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Parliament; the secretary general of the MFA; the head of the Centre for Analysis and Planning (CAP) of the MFA; two representatives of every political party holding seats in the parliament; and an equal number of foreign policy experts (Government Gazette 2003). The council was first established in 2003 and, unlike the KYSEA, it is responsible for providing guidance and advisory opinions to the Greek government for the strategic framing of the country’s foreign policy. The NCFP has also been criticised over time for its failure to act as a genuine advisory body, with the most frequent critique being that it has become merely a channel for the government to inform opposition political parties about its foreign policy decisions.
The General Secretariat for Civil Protection (GSCP) is yet another institutional structure that implements a WGA as it pursues its mission “to design, plan, organise and coordinate actions regarding risk assessment, prevention, preparedness, information and response to natural, technological or other disasters or emergencies, to coordinate rehabilitation operations, to monitor the above actions and to inform the public on these issues” (GSCP 2019). More precisely, the Civil Protection Operations Centre (CPOC), as part of the GSCP, applies a WGA in managing crises and coordinating the personnel of various agencies (e.g. the Armed Forces, the Hellenic Police, the Hellenic Coast Guard, the Hellenic Fire Service and specialised medical staff). Additionally, the GSCP has direct ties to the European Response Coordination Centre (ERCC), which operates in the framework of the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism (EUCPM). If a public authority (whether of Greece, of another country or of an international organisation) calls on Greece to provide assistance, the CPOC applies the procedures for the sending and receiving of international assistance. In doing so, it cooperates with the International Relations, Volunteerism-Training and Publications Directorate of the GSCP in accordance with instructions of the Secretary General for Civil Protection.
In April 2019, Greece’s MFA presented a draft bill on the “modernisation of foreign policy” (Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2019), which, among other things, provided the framework for the establishment of a National Security Council (NSC). Doing so represented a long-anticipated step towards the creation of an administrative structure to assume primary responsibility for national security. Although it did not make any explicit reference to a WGA, the draft bill made clear that the NSC would follow a WGA in pursuing its responsibility for “the development of an integrated and functional system of security and crisis management”. According to the draft, the NSC would consist of: the prime minister (serving as chairman); the deputy prime minister; the minister of foreign affairs; the minister for citizen protection; the chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff; the chairman of the Standing Committee on National Defence and Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Parliament; the director of the National Intelligence Service; the secretary general of the MFA; an official from the Head Diplomatic Office of the prime minister’s political office; and the national security adviser (serving as the principal rapporteur). The NSC would be an advisory structure to the prime minister responsible for the continuous coordination of all actors involved in national security affairs.
Following the national elections of July 2019, the newly elected prime minister appointed a national security adviser for the first time ever. The opposition criticised this decision as being too hasty given that there were still no final provisions for the establishment, composition and authorities of the NSC. Nevertheless, in August 2019, the Greek government introduced Law 4622/19 on the organisation, function and transparency of the government, the government bodies and the central state administration (Government Gazette 2019c). This law is essentially a blueprint for the restructuring and reorganisation of government institutions and various other administrative bodies. Despite lacking any explicit references to a WGA, the law introduced a top-down, centralised WGA, placing emphasis on the continuous interaction of all competent agencies for the successful implementation of government policies, including those related to foreign affairs and security.
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