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2009-12-27

FACTOID: The World: Mavros: Greece's Bitter Voice

Monday, Sep. 09, 1974

Before the military dictatorship, George Mavros was one of Greece's leading politicians, serving as Cabinet minister in several different governments. Arrested five times during the junta's seven years, Mavros last March was finally sent to the infamous Gyaros Island, where the military regime's most prominent foes coexisted with snakes, scorpions and rats. Now Mavros, 65, a Hellenistic blend of bluntness, sensibility and humor, is the No. 2 man in the new civilian government of Constantine Caramanlis, with portfolios as both Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister. Last week, in an interview with TIME's chief European correspondent William Rademaekers, Mavros explained why Athens is so bitter toward the U.S. and what it plans to do next.


ON GREEK-AMERICAN RELATIONS: The serious deterioration began with the American attitude toward the Greek dictatorship. Washington took a position toward the colonels that could not possibly be considered unfavorable, negative or even neutral. The reason was shortsighted, serving American strategic interests. The American Government cooperated with the military regime in Greece and supported it in practice. A few platonic statements about "liberalization" of the regime did not alter this reality. Considering this background and the widespread public resentment [it caused] in Greece toward the U.S., it was inevitable that Washington's attitude during the recent events in Cyprus would create a crisis in Greek-American relations. Put bluntly, we believe that the Americans were able to stop the Turks from landing on Cyprus, but it is now obvious that they were rather unwilling to do so.

ON THE ROLE OF THE CIA IN GREECE: It is a general conviction in the country that since the military takeover of April 21,1967, the American CIA has been behind the scene. Your secret services are deeply connected with our secret services for NATO purposes and other security reasons, and nothing happens [in Greece] that the American CIA does not know about. The 1967 coup was engineered by the Greek counterpart of the American CIA. There is no doubt about U.S. awareness of what was happening, and I think it would be better for the Americans to confess that it was an error for them to have been involved. Now the question is: Who was behind the Cyprus coup that overthrew Makarios? Evidence is difficult to get, so it is anybody's guess. People naturally suspect those who have backed the tyranny of the past seven years.

ON HENRY KISSINGER: I cannot say that we are very enthusiastic about the way he dealt with the problem. Between the two phases of the Geneva Conference, I knew that the Turkish plan was to gain some time. The Turkish plan for the military occupation of Cyprus—a plan involving some 300 tanks, 40,000 troops and masses of heavy artillery—was not dreamed up overnight. It was a plan to conquer Cyprus that was already in existence. It was an expansionist Turkish military plan. I knew that. Two days before the second phase of the Geneva Conference, I asked Kissinger if he would see me to discuss the situation.

He answered immediately that he was sending [Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs] Arthur Hartman to Ankara, Cyprus and Athens and if I was not satisfied with the talks, he would be prepared to see me on Thursday, Aug. 8. That also happened to be the opening day of the second phase of the Geneva Conference. The thought was to see him on the morning of Aug. 8,then fly to Geneva that evening. This seemed to me to be impossible, so I dropped the idea.

ON WITHDRAWING FROM NATO: Our decision is not a bluff. The alliance proved to be unable to prevent a military conflict between two member countries. What use is it? Everybody in Greece wonders how this alliance can protect us from outside aggression if it cannot prevent aggression from within.

We know very well what Greek withdrawal means to the status of the Western world. It is ridiculous to think that Turkey can fill the gap. Without Greece, the entire Western strategy—the entire defense structure—will crumble. Can you imagine what would happen if Greece fell [to the Communists]? Italy and Turkey would fall in the same afternoon, and the lives of 300 million Europeans would be at stake. But we Greeks cannot bear alone the responsibility for the security of the Western world at a time when we are so bluntly attacked by a member of the Atlantic Alliance and the other members of this alliance are simply looking on. Greece had no other alternative but to withdraw from the military branch of the NATO alliance.

ON THE ROLE OF THE SOVIET UNION IN THE CRISIS: We agree with Russia's idea [for an 18-nation conference on Cyprus] in principle, but we do not want a new forum for propaganda. What we need is concrete action. For example, Greece would have no objection to withdrawal of all its forces from Cyprus, but under firm guarantees that Turkish military forces would be withdrawn.

ON BRINGING FORMER JUNTA LEADERS TO TRIAL: The Greek people insist that there must be an accounting. The question is one of timing. This is a provisional government, if you will. We must move one step at a time. We have achieved the direction toward democracy. Politics is something that must be carefully done. Therefore, my feeling is that once we have elections and there is a government of the people, that government will certainly want to bring to justice those who have committed crimes during seven years of dictatorship and tyranny in this land.

FACTOID: Gust Avrakotos, 67; led CIA's arming of Afghan mujahideen against Soviets

By Patricia Sullivan, Washington Post December 26, 2005



WASHINGTON -- Gust L. Avrakotos, 67, the CIA agent in charge of the massive arming of Afghan tribesmen during their 1980s guerrilla war against the Soviets, died of complications from a stroke Dec. 1 at Inova Fairfax (Va.) Hospital.


Mr. Avrakotos, who ran the largest covert operation in the agency's history, was dubbed ''Dr. Dirty" for his willingness to handle ethically ambiguous tasks and a ''blue-collar James Bond" for his 27 years of undercover work. In the 1980s, he used Tennessee mules to bring hundreds of millions of dollars in automatic weapons, antitank guns, and satellite maps from Pakistan to the mujahideen.


Working with former Representative Charles Wilson, a Democrat from Texas, Mr. Avrakotos eventually controlled more than 70 percent of the CIA's annual expenditures for covert operations, funneling it through intermediaries to the mujahideen. As a result, the tribesmen drove the Soviets out of Afghanistan, and the long Cold War shuddered toward an end.
Those weapons later were used in a civil war in Afghanistan before the Taliban took control. Critics noted that those weapons probably were still in use, both in support of and against US troops, when the United States went to war in Afghanistan in 2001.


Mr. Avrakotos, whose thermonuclear approach to internal politics twice led him to coarsely insult the CIA's European division director, lost his position just as the Stinger antiaircraft missile launchers downed the first Soviet gunships. He was transferred to an African assignment and retired shortly thereafter, in 1989.


Mr. Avrakotos remained obscure until 2003, when ''60 Minutes" producer George Crile published ''Charlie Wilson's War," a best-selling description of how Wilson and Mr. Avrakotos strong-armed Congress and the bureaucracy into supporting the cause of the mujahideen. He may become still better known: Tom Hanks has bought the rights to turn the book into a movie.
Mr. Avrakotos was born in Aliquippa, Pa., the son of Greek immigrants, and attended Carnegie Institute of Technology until family finances forced him to leave after two years. He worked in a local steel mill, then sold beer and cigarettes to ethnic taverns throughout western Pennsylvania, learning to banter with the first-generation immigrants from eastern and central Europe. He returned to college and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh.


He joined the CIA in 1962, just after it began recruiting agents from beyond its Ivy League training grounds. Because he spoke Greek, he was assigned to Athens. While he was there, a military junta overthrew the democratic, constitutional government, and Mr. Avrakotos became the chief liaison to Greek colonels. Their fascist regime fell in 1974, and the November 17 terrorist group assassinated the CIA's station chief. CIA renegade Philip Agee, who had exposed the Athens station chief's name, exposed Mr. Avrakotos as well, and the Greek press vilified him for his role in the regime.


He left Greece in 1978. But he could not get another decent assignment with the CIA, Crile wrote, because his superiors considered him too uncouth.


A second-generation, working-class Greek American with a profane tongue and bare-knuckle character, Mr. Avrakotos never quite felt at home in the polished WASP world of the CIA's elite. When the intelligence scandals of the 1970s resulted in a purge of agents in 1977, most were first- or second-generation Americans and Mr. Avrakotos felt betrayed by the organization. Not one to let bygones be bygones, Mr. Avrakotos once showed a photograph of a colleague who had crossed him to an old Greek woman and requested that she put a curse on him.


He eventually found a position with the Middle East desk at the CIA and worked his way into a position as section chief of the area that included Afghanistan. He was made a member of the elite Senior Intelligence Service in 1985 and received the Intelligence Medal of Merit in 1988.


''Throughout his Afghan tour, Avrakotos did things on a regular basis that could have gotten him fired had anyone chosen to barge into his arena with an eye toward prosecuting him. But then Avrakotos was not just lucky. He was brutally worldly wise, keenly aware of the internal risks he was taking. And so he always made it difficult for anyone to get him, should they try," Crile wrote.


Backed by Wilson's appropriations acumen, Mr. Avrakotos purchased so many weapons that he had to buy a special ship to move containers of them to Karachi. He badgered the Saudi Arabian government to keep a secret commitment to match US funds to the mujahideen and intimidated Senator Gordon J. Humphrey, a New Hampshire Republican, into quieting his criticism of the CIA. He batted away a proposal by Oliver North and Richard Perle to set up loudspeakers in the mountains to persuade Soviets to defect.


He shopped in Egypt for wheelbarrows and bicycles to be rigged as bombs. It was illegal to provide sniper rifles to foreigners, so he redefined the weapons as ''individual defensive devices . . . long-range, night-vision devices with scopes."


However, after he filed a memo warning against North's arms-for-hostages scheme, which came to be known as Iran-contra, his career ascent ended and he was reassigned to Africa.
He retired from the CIA in 1989, then worked for TRW in Rome and for News Corp., for whom he began a business intelligence newsletter, working in Rome and McLean, Va.


The McLean resident returned to work on contract for the CIA from 1997 until 2003.
His marriage to Judy Avrakotos ended in divorce.


Mr. Avrakotos leaves his wife of 19 years, Claudette; a son from his first marriage, Gregory of Melbourne Beach, Fla.; a sister; and two granddaughters.

© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.

2009-12-26

Isouna ksipoliti ( paksimadokleftra ) 1930 Kostas Mpezos (A. Kostis)

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