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GreeceThe hardest part of the summer is still ahead of us, PM...

The hardest part of the summer is still ahead of us, PM Mitsotakis notes in weekly review

Hellenic News of America
Hellenic News of America
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The difficult summer ahead as regards the risk of dangerous fires but also the progress Greece has made in fighting corruption and improving the implementation of the rule of law were touched on in the weekly review posted each Sunday by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

He pointed out that Greece had implemented 38 of the 49 recommendations made by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), including granting greater powers to the Financial Prosecutor and introduction of a Code of Conduct for members of the government, among others.

“We cannot speak of fair economic growth if this is not accompanied by the rule of law, institutions, laws and justice that function correctly, quickly and on the basis of international standards,” the prime minister pointed out.

At other points in his post, he referred to healthcare and the new state insurance health organisation’s digital platform for monitoring prescriptions for each drug and each company in real time and the fluctuations of the clawback returns to the Greek state.
Regarding fires, he said that the state mechanism had responded very quickly to a difficult fire that erupted in Parnitha on Saturday and noted that every person needs to be vigilant, adding that “our allies in this effort are the new tools that build a new culture of prevention and responsibility.”

The prime minister’s post in full is as follows:

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“Good morning! We have a very rich review of the week today, with many different actions and items of news, in which I believe you will definitely find something that concerns or interests you.

“Today I will start with a “result” of a constant battle we are waging to improve the rule of law and fight corruption. Last week we had an important recognition of our efforts from the OECD report. The report acknowledges that out of the 49 recommendations made to our country, 38 – i.e. 78% – have been implemented (in record time, in fact). I mention, for example, the strengthening of the jurisdiction and role of the Financial Prosecutor, the Code of Conduct for government members, the strategy to combat fraud in the Recovery Fund, the passing of the new judicial charter for political and criminal justice. On the issue of freedom of the press, the report also approves of the measures we have taken, among others, for additional transparency in the print and electronic media and the abolition of the criminalisation of simple defamation.

“The OEDC report is very important for two reasons: the first concerns our belief that we cannot talk about fair economic growth if it is not accompanied by the rule of law, institutions, laws and justice that work correctly, quickly and based on international standards. And the report confirms just that: that Greece, in its quest to become an internationally attractive economy, is on the right track in terms of the legislative and political initiatives we are taking to improve the rule of law. The second reason concerns the refutation of those who have been attempting for some time to conduct a coordinated campaign to tarnish the international image of our country. I have said it several times: if we want to talk seriously about the quality and functioning of the rule of law in our country, we should consult the most authoritative international organisations and their reports. The European Commission, the World Bank, the Council of Europe, the Economist and now the OECD recognise that we are on the right track. Obviously, we have not solved all the problems and there is, of course, still a lot to be done before we heal long-standing wounds and the citizens see the difference in their daily lives. And that’s why we won’t stop trying.

“I am moving on to the field of public health, to tell you that the new EOPYY digital platform has been put into operation, through which – in collaboration with all pharmaceutical associations – we will be able to monitor almost in real time prescriptions by drug and company and therefore the fluctuation of the clawback returns to the Greek government. Thus, we achieve transparency and a more orderly operation of the drug market for the benefit of citizens. Our basic principle: to have the right medicine for every disease at the best price, with conditions of competition and healthy development of the Greek and foreign pharmaceutical industries.

[“Next topic, the big and asymmetric battle we are fighting to face the challenges of climate change and the fires this summer. Yesterday was a difficult day, with adverse conditions, with winds of 8-9 Beaufort and many fires in Attica, from Keratea to Parnitha and Aspropyrgos, but also in other areas of the country, such as in Serifos. The fire in Parnitha was extremely difficult, but it was detected immediately thanks to the aerial surveillance with drones that we have been implementing since this year for the forests and mountainous areas of Attica. And indeed, the reaction of the state apparatus was quick and within a few hours it no longer had an active front. But I want to point out that the difficulties are still ahead of us. And our effort is continuous. In this effort, however, our allies are also new tools that build a new culture of prevention and responsibility. It is very positive that by Friday, almost 500,000 total declarations for land clearances had been made on the relevant platform of the ministry of civil protection. It shows an unprecedented mobilisation corresponding to clearings that exceed 1 million acres in area.
“However, since the phenomenon of the residues from the cleaning being piled up outside the plots was observed, the Municipalities are invited, either by their own means, or with private contractors and in cooperation with the Special Interlevel Association of the Prefecture of Attica, to urgently remove these dangerous flammable volumes. That is why it was decided last week to provide emergency funding of 1.3 million euros to 46 municipalities of Attica.

As this is the first year of implementation of this measure with the new reporting and compliance monitoring tools, we have decided to extend the deadline for another 15 days even though we are now almost in the middle of summer. Because every additional clearing brings us closer to the goal. And I repeat that our goal here is both prevention for this year’s fire season but also the acquisition of a new culture of individual and collective responsibility. Only if we unite our forces, both state and citizens, we can face the climate crisis.

“But summer also means joy and a few carefree days away from the city. This year, a total of 13,595 people will be accommodated in all the country’s camps, of which 7,425 are children, 1,820 are elderly and 4,350 are people with disabilities. We even increased the camp activities budget to 4,000,000 euros to benefit more people for longer.
“By the way, let me tell you that as I wrote to you last Sunday, the platform for Thessaly and Evros Pass opened on Tuesday to support tourism in the areas of Thessaly hit by Daniel and those in Evros that were hit by last summer’s fires. So let me inform you today that a total of 206,490 applications have been submitted!

“A slightly different, but very pleasant piece of news: an unnecessary impasse that lasted a quarter of a century and made Greece an unfortunate exception in the European higher education sector has finally come to an end. We were the only country out of the 47 of the Council of Europe that had not ratified the Lisbon Convention, even though we had adopted its provisions! What is the Lisbon Convention? It is the charter that supports the right of Europe’s young people to enjoy the benefit of mobility in their studies, within the European Higher Education Area. In other words, the Convention that was finally ratified by the Hellenic Parliament last Thursday, ensures that holders of academic qualifications (degrees, master’s, doctorates) from one member-state have the right to have these qualifications recognised in another member-state. The ratification of the Convention in connection with the reform for higher education (strong public HEIs and the operation of non-profit, non-state Universities) create a complete and solid framework for the further internationalisation of higher education in our country, taking it out of isolation. Greece will now be able to take international initiatives and co-shape the map of academic mobility and not just follow decisions taken in its absence by others.

“I will stay in the area of education and the announcement of the education minister that from September 2025, the students of the 1st Lyceum will acquire useful knowledge and skills around the basic economic figures and the basic economic processes. Economic literacy not only allows us to understand the complex financial environment but also to make good decisions as citizens. For example, how to more effectively manage issues related to our personal well-being, such as our basic household finances, but just as importantly and more responsibly our own vote against populist and irresponsible political and economic programmes. The fate of the debt crisis must never be repeated again in the future. It is our responsibility to future generations.

“The last issue concerning the field of education is a reminder that the submission of applications for the granting of the student housing allowance for the academic year 2023-2024 has begun. Applications are made either directly via the page or via and the deadline ends on Wednesday, July 31, 2024. The annual housing allowance is granted to undergraduate students of HEIs and Higher Ecclesiastical Schools Academies, Greeks or citizens of other countries of the European Union and amounts to 1,500 euros. It increases to 2,000 if they live together with another student (provided certain conditions are met). It is also 2,000 euros for beneficiaries who study at HEIs outside the Attica Region or the Thessaloniki Regional Unit. If there is cohabitation in the same rented residence outside Attica or the Thessaloniki Region, the allowance increases to the amount of 2,500 euros. It is – I believe – a relief for families with children studying away from the parental home.

“Let’s also look at the situation on the roads, where the evidence shows that – at least within the limits of the Municipality of Athens – the traffic controls are effective in reducing accidents and mishaps. So what do the statistics say? That since the beginning of the year fatal accidents have decreased by 160%: from 16 in the first six months of 2023, this year there were six and already 65,000 violations were recorded, when last year there were 54,500. We continue more intensively and I remind you that the National Road Safety Plan 2021-2030 based on the fourfold plan “Safe roads, Responsible drivers, Traffic education, Fair rules for all” aims to reduce deaths and serious injuries by 50% in the coming years. We can all achieve it together.

“Now, I am changing the subject to tell you that the completion of the online auctions for the concession of the beaches is at 90%. This is a system that replaced the previous opaque and problematic regime of individual concessions per Municipality. To date, 1,700 auctions have been conducted, with an additional 225 to be completed in the coming days, while the original forecast was for around 1,200 this year. It is also important to mobilise citizens for unhindered access and use of the beaches. Some 52,000 citizens have downloaded the MyCoast application on their mobile phones and 8,911 complaints have already been made to the competent authorities. At the same time, checks are being intensified with the use of drones, the taking of satellite images and mixed teams of inspectors to ensure the accessibility of the beaches with respect for the natural environment and without hindering tourism development.

“I would like to take this opportunity to inform you that the “Untrodden Beaches” are increasing by an additional 40, and now their total number is 238. The pioneering institution of “Untrodden Beaches” with the recent coastal and environmental preservation law leads to full protection and prohibition of rights for the commercial exploitation of the coast and beaches on coastlines of high environmental value, as well as any other action that may endanger their morphology and their integrity in terms of their ecological functions.

“From nature, we go to technology, as the development of the “Daedalus” supercomputer is on track, a major investment for Greece’s digital leap forward that will put us in the countries with the 30 most powerful computing systems in the world. The announcement of the Open International Tender was made last Tuesday and the 41.9-million-euro project is financed by the Recovery Fund, the Public Investment Programme and by the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking. Upon its completion, it will be the “heart” of a new ecosystem for the development of AI applications for innovation, the implementation of new, more efficient and reliable services for citizens, business, personalised medicine, fire protection and spatial planning.

“I will continue ‘digitally’ to tell you that everything is ready and in a few days the personal number of the new IDs will come into force. Essentially, it will be created by the citizens themselves – each and every one exclusively their own – choosing through the myinfo platform two of the three digits that make it up plus our tax registration number. At the same time, in collaboration with the Ministry of Citizen Protection, a new, much stronger way of authentication is being created, with new codes that will be much more secure against hacking. Of course, this concerns those who wish, the rest can keep the old codes. And one more thing regarding the digital wallet: from the day after tomorrow, Tuesday, the insurance information, details and passbook will be added to the gov wallet in addition to the other documents (identity card, driver’s license, disability card, etc.), social insurance status, as well as pet details and health books.

“I end today’s review with the new modern facade to be acquired by the national defence ministry, our familiar Pentagon, which as a building must reflect the greater strength acquired by our national defence. Fine arts professor Costas Varotsos has designed without any charge the redevelopment of the surrounding grounds, which will have bioclimatic characteristics and will include a new building for Electronic Warfare, a monument that will be an ark of national memory with all the names of those who died in support of the country, parks that commemorate major national anniversaries, as well as a membrane made of vertical aluminum beams on the facade of the existing building. A reconstruction full of symbolism, as the national defence minister pointed out, which will be carried out chiefly through the donations of entrepreneurs Thanos Laskarides and Giorgos Peristeris, whom we thank.”


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