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Saturday, 3 November 2007

'Where there was forest, there will once again be forest' Kostas Karamanlis

On 1 November, there was a debate between Greek party leaders on environmental policy initiated by Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alekos Alavanos. At the debate, attended by EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas (see his blog), Prime Minister Karamanlis said developmental and environmental policies resembled 'communicating vessels'. Prosperity emanating from irresponsibility and desecration of the natural wealth as well as the waste of natural resources was destructive in the long-run. Referring to areas in Greece facing environmental problems, such as Lake Koronia and the Asopos River, (see also for background and context) Karamanlis said:
'Strict implementation of the laws and the required interventions are a commitment that is being put into action...There will be constant inspections, the relevant case files will be referred to a prosecutor, high fines will be imposed and collected, the business activities of repeat offenders will be discontinued, and the necessary projects advanced...I made clear, from the very first moment, our decision to designate the forests that were destroyed as reserved for reforestation. The regional authorities that have not yet completed the procedure have received instructions to accelerate the relevant decisions. Where there was forest, there will once again be forest'
[Back to the future: 7 Jan 2008 Balkantravellers piece quoting Professor Maria Landarou on findings by the biology, geology and civil engineering departments of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Lakes in Northern Greece suffer from illegal farming practices and untreated waste. 'Despite Greece’s obligation to abide by the 2000 EU Water Framework directive, requiring it to have all its water bodies in "good" status by 2015, most of the lakes and rivers in the northern part of the country are far from it.' SB note: stories from Greece and the vigorous Greek diaspora - academics, journalists, politicians, students - are accumulating, suggesting their country's environment, regardless of EU directives, is concerning more and more Greeks.
See also:
Dimitri A. Sotiropoulos (2006) The remains of authoritarianism: Bureaucracy and civil society in post-authoritarian Greece in Cemoti, n.20 - Médias d'Iran et d'Asie Centrale, on-line - 'The dominant view of Greek civil society is that it is weak compared to the civil societies of other West European countries. At the same time, the Greek bureaucracy is not as strong as its West European counterparts in the sense that the Greek bureaucracy, even after the fall of the colonels' authoritarian regime, cannot resist the incursions of conservative or populist political elites, which, organized around the parties of New Democracy and PASOK respectively, have alternated in power since 1974.']

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Simon Baddeley