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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-11-01

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM: Developmental and environmental policies 'communicating vessels'
  • [02] Papariga cites 'eco nightmare' for 21st century

  • [01] PM: Developmental and environmental policies 'communicating vessels'

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday rejected the "development versus environment" dilemma as "untimely and invalid" as he addressed Parliament during an off-the-agenda debate between the party leaders on environmental policy. The debate was initiated by Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alekos Alavanos and was also attended by EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas.

    Karamanlis told the 300-member House that developmental and environmental policies were like "communicating vessels" and that the prosperity emanating from irresponsibility, the squandering of natural wealth and the waste of natural resources was not only ephemeral but also destructive in the long run.

    "Whatever harms the environment, in the end also harms society and the economy. Whatever benefits the environment, also benefits growth and the quality of our lives," the prime minister said.

    Karamanlis said that the essence of environmental responsibility was the "fundamental guideline" pervading all the new developmental policies of his government and was shared by all its members, while noting that both the present and preceding New Democracy governments had inherited environmental problems accumulated over decades.

    "[Concern for the environment] is the new, non-negotiable element with which we will imbue every business activity, every personal attitude. This is the safest, most optimistic road before us," he said.

    Karamanlis also referred to the common efforts of European countries for protection of the global climate and to a Greek proposal for a European Rapid Reaction Force for handling environmental disasters, which he said had been well-received.

    Referring to areas in Greece facing environmental problems, such as Lake Koronia and the Asopos River, Karamanlis said that strict implementation of the laws and the required interventions "are a commitment that is being put into action".

    He emphasised that the government had meant everything it said in full: "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".

    Karamanlis further said that supporting the citizens and reconstruction of the areas that were devastated by August's massive wildfires was a fundamental priority for his government.

    "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," Karamanlis stressed.

    Replying to criticism from the opposition party leaders, meanwhile, he noted that the accumulated problems of several years could not be dealt with overnight, while pointing out that the critics also bore a heavy share of responsibility for the current problems through their actions and omissions in past decades.

    He emphasised that the government "dared to see and highlight the challenges facing the country" and referred specifically to the national and special spatial planning laws introduced by the previous ND government, calling on the opposition parties to admit that the government had done something that "no one had touched for half a century".

    The prime minister also dismissed accusations that the spatial plan for tourism, in particular, would lead to over-development, saying these fears were "groundless" since this plan viewed the environment as a basic condition for sustainable development.

    Karamanlis similarly rejected criticism of government plans to give about 10 percent of the Elliniko Metropolitan Park for development in order to fund the construction and maintenance of the rest, stressing that this would also generate funds for other green-space projects around the capital, and said that ND's proposals for revising article 24 of the Constitution sought to provide better protection of forests that existed at the time that the present Constitution came into force in 1975, with strict penalties for any change in land use after that time.

    "In any case, we are ready to proceed with a synthesis of opinions in order to ensure common goals, such as sustainable development and especially protection of the environment," Karamanlis added, sharply criticizing refusal to participate in dialogue on reforming the Constitution as "proof of the utmost political weakness and a foremost expression of deeply undemocratic attitudes".

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph of the 300-member Greek Parliament in session during an off-the-agenda debate held in July 2007.

    [02] Papariga cites 'eco nightmare' for 21st century

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Thursday called environmental predictions for the 21st century a "nightmare", speaking in Parliament during an off-the-agenda debate on the environment, where she added that people should take matters "into their hands."

    Papariga also charged that Greece's two major political parties bear huge responsibility for the environmental situation in the country, referring to postwar development and public health.

    "Capitalist industrial development is the main factor for the commercialisation of land, energy and water," she said.

    The KKE leader mentioned that her communist party has no confidence in the current and previous governments' choices and intentions.

    She also stated that earthquake protection is a major issue that her party intends to bring to Parliament.


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