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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-12-02

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Gov't points to milestone reforms in Greek family law
  • [02] Voulgarakis testifies in Vatopedi probe, denies responsibility
  • [03] Greek stocks end 1.20% down
  • [04] FinMin: EU stimulus plan 'balanced'

  • [01] Gov't points to milestone reforms in Greek family law

    Legislation establishing a legal precedent for cohabitation between heterosexual couples with a view to granting couples living together the same rights as married ones was published in the Government Gazette on Tuesday, identified as state Law No. 3719/08. The new law also features new provisions for divorce proceedings, parental care for children born out of wedlock as well as returns the right of spouses to a add the surname of their spouses to their own (a double-barreled surname). Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis stressed that the reforms constitute a major breakthrough in Greece's family law sector, solving serious social problems while offering a wider spectrum of options to men and women and guaranteeing the rights of unmarried mothers and thousands of children born out of wedlock. According to the ministry, the civil union law allows two adult heterosexual individuals to live together after signing a cohabitation pact merely certified by a notary public. Such a pact is not allowed to be reached in case any of the parties interested is already in a marriage or has signed a cohabitation pact that is still valid. Also, a cohabitation pact cannot be signed by relatives or by an adopted parent and the adopted child. Granting a palimony can be included in the cohabitation pact or in a document signed afterwards. Parental care for a child born while a cohabitation pact was is effect belongs to both parents. The Parental care issues are covered by relative Civil Law clauses concerning children born in a marriage. As regards divorce procedures, a divorce is granted automatically if spouses are separated for at least two years even if the plaintiff is blamed for the breakup.

    The double-barreled last name clause provides that following an agreement between the spouses each of them -- or one of them -- can combine their last names thus forming a two-part surname. The double-barreled last name ceases to be in effect in the case of divorce, whereas in the case of death of one of the spouses it can be changed at the request of the surviving spouse. Concerning children born out of wedlock, parental care belongs to the mother. If the father recognizes a child born out of marriage can also be granted parental care if there is an agreement with the mother or if she is unable to care for the child.

    [02] Voulgarakis testifies in Vatopedi probe, denies responsibility

    Former culture minister George Voulgarakis on Tuesday denied any sort of responsibility for the land swaps between the state and the Vatopedi monastery on Mount Athos, the contracts for which were drawn up by his wife Katerina Peleki and signed during his tenure at the ministry.

    "I bear no responsibility. Not just political but any sort of responsibility - in the sense that my involvement in this affair was nil. I would be responsible if I had changed the status of the archaeological sites, if I was administrator of the properties, if I was owner, holder or had use of those plots of land, if I had contravened through one of my orders or ministerial decisions a presidential decree, a law, or any other thing," he said while testifying before the Parliamentary investigation committee that is conducting a probe into the affair.

    Among the contracts signed was one for a site of 860 hectares at Ouranoupolis that the local curator of Byzantine antiquities Ioannis Tavlakis considered a "protected archaeological site belonging to the State" and not eligible to be exchanged.

    According to Voulgarakis, however, the curator's opinion was not supported by ministry services and, as minister, he had seen no evidence that might make him suspect the possibility of an illegal offence, since the document sent by Tavlakis arrived after the contract had been signed.

    "It was not even clear to me that it concerned the specific contract drawn up by my wife. The issue had not concerned the press and I had no reason, as culture minister, to deal with it because I saw nothing written about it, no one told me," the former minister said.

    Voulgarakis also argued that the transfer of property within archaeological sites was not prevented by Greek law, even when a site had been listed as archaeological, and that there were no rules requiring that the ministry approve such real estate transfers.

    The former minister insisted on his argument, even when members of the committee pointed out that his views concerning the specific site were not shared by his successor Mihalis Liapis. An MP cited a document dated April 3, 2008 in which Liapis had described the property as part of a region that had been designated a historic monument listed for conservation since 1965, Liapis had asked the ministry's legal advisor whether the culture ministry had the right to seek the cancellation of the contract.

    At Voulgarakis' request, the MP then read the reply of the ministry's legal service, which had arrived on November 14, 2008 and simply said that "it has become infeasible for our office to reply to the above document".

    Asked to comment on his wife's involvement in the whole affair as a notary, Voulgarakis said that she had acted in good faith, in the framework of her duty as a notary, and "all these things that have come to light, she could not have even imagined".

    [03] Greek stocks end 1.20% down

    Greek stocks ended lower for the second consecutive session this week at the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index of the market ended 1.20 pct down at 1,837.98 points, with turnover a slightly improved 139.2 million euros, of which 7.4 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved lower, with the Financial Services (3.61 pct), Constructions (3.35 pct) and Healthcare (2.69 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Telecommunications (3.45 pct), Media (2.68 pct) and Chemicals (1.35 pct) scored gains.

    The FTSE 20 index fell 1.22 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 2.08 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index eased 0.53 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 141 to 67 with another 36 issues unchanged.

    [04] FinMin: EU stimulus plan 'balanced'

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