Next week, the political parties will discuss in the Hellenic Parliament, among other things, proposals for upgrading the EYP. It is a common admission that the intelligence service suffers from structural inadequacies that do not allow it to develop into a strong pillar of the Greek security system.
First, priority should be given to strengthening transparency and accountability to fill the trust gap that has been created in society. Many European countries have faced similar situations with their services in the past. There are now many models for cracking down on maladministration and upholding the rule of law.
In Great Britain there is a special commissioner, a parliamentary committee and a body of judges who monitor the operation of MI5 and MI6. The first falls under the Ministry of Interior and the second under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In France, an independent commission and an internal audit directorate have been created to oversee the two main services. The intelligence agency DGSE is under the Ministry of Defence, while the internal security agency DGSI is under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
In Germany the control of the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) falls under the remit of the Chancellery. However, the service is overseen by two parliamentary committees, a federal data protection agency, an independent authority and a parliamentary commissioner.
In most European services, commanders are appointed who are high-ranking officials of the public administration or civil servants of recognized prestige. Those who come from the free market are not preferred because they do not know the culture of national security. Every agency usually tries to recruit capable and talented executives with a high sense of responsibility. Intelligence agencies cannot have a toxic work culture that undermines their operational readiness.
Now there is a golden opportunity to finally change something in the Greek intelligence community for the benefit of the national interest. In the framework of the effort to reconstruct the EYP, the following are proposed:
-Oversight of the EYP through the Committee on Institutions and Transparency and the Committee on National Defense and Foreign Affairs.
-Amendment of the law on the qualifications for the appointment of the commander of the service.
-Reopening of the Intelligence Council for better coordination with the Greek Armed Forces and the Ministry of Defense
-Further reduction of Secondary and Compulsory Education positions.
Greece needs an outward-looking intelligence service that will successfully respond to the challenges of the 21st century. The substantial reconstruction of the EYP will effectively protect national interests and allow the country to gain a significant advantage over its regional competitors.
*Manos Karagiannis is Associate Professor of International Security at King’s College London and the University of Macedonia.