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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-07-19

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM, local gov't unions discuss planned reforms
  • [02] Wildfire continues to rage near Corinth

  • [01] PM, local gov't unions discuss planned reforms

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday had successive meetings with the leadership of Greece's main local authority unions, the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE) and the Union of Prefecture Authorities of Greece (ENAE), in order to discuss legislation for reforming the administrative structure of local government in the country, as well as upcoming bills outlining incentives for voluntary mergers and metropolitan cooperation between municipalities.

    The meeting was also attended by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who afterwards stressed that the new framework would not be imposed on municipalities.

    "We want voluntary mergers through the incentives that have been introduced and will be made more specific with the new laws," Pavlopoulos said. He clarified that the bill, which would more exactly specify incentives for mergers and metropolitan cooperation that were already foreseen under the new municipalities and communities code, would be tabled in Parliament in December this year.

    Also due for completion by the end of the year was a new code for prefectures, Pavlopoulos added.

    Pavlopoulos said that the prime minister's meetings with KEDKE and ENAE on Thursday were a continuation of the dialogue initiated by Karamanlis over a year ago and repeated that the government's goal was to create stronger local government that would receive more funding, in line with the changes also taking place within the European Union.

    Under the plan, which has been dubbed 'Kapodistrias 2', local authorities are expected to join together and redraw their administrative boundaries - which will also increase the funds at their disposal - along the lines of the original and controversial 'Kapodistrias' plan passed by PASOK in 1998, which forced smaller municipalities and communities to merge with larger ones.

    The minister clarified that reforms to the administrative structure of local government for both municipalities and prefectures would only be passed by Parliament after the next elections and that the proposals would first be run by local authorities themselves.

    "It has always been the government's position, that such great reforms must be set before the judgement of the Greek people," Pavlopoulos stressed.

    He explained that the bill giving incentives for mergers and metropolitan cooperation would be passed by the end of 2007, while deeper reforms to the administrative structure of local authorities would be outlined in the programme with which the government would seek to be re-elected for a second term, again following consultation with KEDKE and ENAE.

    "They will be approved by the Greek people and we will then progress so that the next municipal and prefecture elections in 2010 will be held on the basis of the new institutional framework," he added.

    According to ENAE President Manolis Drakos, the "countdown" for local government administrative reform had already begun and the "prime minister's commitment for more democracy in local government was a guarantee".

    PM Karamanlis confers with KEDKE on local gov't reform, finances

    The meeting between Karamanlis and KEDKE's presidium preceded that with ENAE and was again attended by Pavlopoulos and deputy Interior minister Athanassios Nakos.

    KEDKE president and Athens mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis told reporters after the meeting that there was identity of views with the prime minister regarding the "Kapodistrias-2" plan for the administrative reform of the country, which is being advanced by the government, adding that the deadline for voluntary mergers ('unifications' of municipalities and communities) expired in end-2008, and noting that strong incentives for such mergers were provided in a relevant draft law by the interior ministry.

    Kaklamanis said that the prime minister pledged that a draft law on collaborations among metropolitan centres would be tabled in parliament by the end of the year.

    One of the biggest issues for local government, he continued, was that of the withheld taxes, adding that a solution would be forthcoming by 2008 for the gradual rebate of those taxes to the municipalities.

    Asked to comment on the various views seeing the light of day regarding the recent barrage of forest fires throughout the country, Kaklamanis said that "extreme statements do not express us, regardless of where they come from...We demand, from the political forces of the country, more projects and less talk".

    KEDKE former president Paris Koukoulopoulos said that the discussion with Karamanlis was at "the level of understanding" but added that, without wishing to doubt the prime minister's intentions "the same dialogue took place a year and ten days ago", which, he said, indicated the lack of a clear-cut government plan regarding local government.

    [02] Wildfire continues to rage near Corinth

    A wildfire raging for three days near the ancient Corinth archaeological site continued to burn out of control on Thursday and had laid waste to hundreds of hectares of forest and farmland. A state of emergency was declared in three municipalities in the area, while farmhouses around the villages of Mampsos and Hiliomodi have caught fire.

    Authorities have also evacuated a summer camp for children and houses near Hiliomodi as a precaution.

    The fire brigade's top priority is to protect inhabited areas.

    The fire in Corinth is being treated as the most serious by the fire brigade, which has ranged the strongest force against it, while a fire in Mani, in the extreme southeast of mainland Greece, continues to burn for a second day and has now reached an area of forest on the peak of a mountain, with fire-fighting aircraft trying to put it out.

    Also still blazing is a fire in nearby Koroni, SE Messinia prefecture, which has also spread alarmingly but was not threatening any inhabited areas.

    Caption: Firefighters battle flames at the remote Hiliomodi site in Corinth prefecture, west of Athens, on Thursday, July 19, 2007. ANA-MPA / VASSILIS PSOMAS.

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