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Friday, March 03, 2006 

Good News and Bad News

If I can get my act together, I'm going to do a bi-weekly blog on current events which have caught my eye in the Greek news over the two week period. These items are noteworthy but not necessarily blogworthy (worthy of devoting a whole blog to the subject) and will keep my readers abreast of what's going on in Greece without having to wallow through dozens of websites. I'll add my own commentary to the news items I find and hope that you will do the same in the comments section. So....towards that end....

The Good News
Cremation Law Passed
On Wednesday, Greece passed a new law which will finally allow cremation as an alternative to burial for those who aren't of the Greek Orthodox religion. This is a welcome law especially since the graveyards are full to capacity and since many people who aren't Orthodox have had to ship the bodies outside of Greece for cremation. The Church's official stance is still against cremation and will refuse burial ceremonies for their brethren who do choose cremation. The up side is that Archbishop Christodoulos may consider reviewing the policy in the future.

Recycling Comes to Athens
For the past week, I've been noticing a strange site in Athens. The appearance of plastic blue garbage bins on street corners all over Athens. Finally, it seems Athens is joining the Recycling ranks. Now, Athenians can separate their garbage into recyclable items like cans, cartons and plastic bottles and put them in the special blue bins for that purpose. It remains to be seen if they will or not. The Municipality has been handing out blue nylon bags to help us in the effort. I got mine last week but I'm still waiting for the blue bin to appear on my street so I can empty the bag contents into the bin. Hopefully, they've fixed the Recycling plant since a mountain of rubbish collapsed on it.

$210 Million in Funding for SMEs
If you own a business in the tourism or manufacturing sector, you could be eligible for funding. Economy Minister, Giorgos Alogoskoufis, announced that $210 million would be made available to Small and Medium Enterprises who qualify and submit their applications between March 15- July 15. Banks will hold complete responsibility for the approval and disbursement of the funds under the supervision of the Public Sector. Considering Greece's track record as a bureacratic and favouritism gold medallist, I pity the poor applicants who will no doubt, be sent on a never-ending paper chase.

The Bad News
Growth Rate
For quite some time, the world has been hearing about Greece's high growth rate which has exceeded the EU average for several years. Living in Greece, you might wonder how this phenomenon has occurred when many citizens are complaining of unemployment, high cost of living and rising inflation. The growth rate is real but as Kathimerini reports, "it was based on increased state spending, inflows from the European Union and credit expansion". So the growth rate in Greece isn't based on increased production but on continued cash injections. This can't be good.

PASOK Takes the Lead
For the first time since the March 2004 elections which saw New Democracy put an end to almost 20 years of PASOK rule, PASOK has again taken the lead in the latest polls. 34.4% of Greeks would vote for PASOK in the next general elections as opposed to 34% for ND. Greeks are disillusioned. After 2 years with ND in power, Greeks don't know which way to turn. Although ND has implemented (albeit rather clumsily) new reforms, they just aren't enough to convince Greeks that the country is doing any better. The government's handling of the Vodafone scandal probably had a lot to do with the results of this poll. Once the clamour of that botched PR fiasco dies down, maybe Karamanlis will manage to get some of his voters' confidence back.

Greek Poultry Farms in Danger
Since the outbreak of the avian flu was confirmed in Greece several weeks ago, poultry farms have seen their sales plummet by as much as 80%. In an industry which employs over 15,000 people, the economic effects of the outbreak will most certainly jeopardize those jobs. The Association of Greek Poultry Industries has stated “Losses are incalculable and we are already in a position where keeping all jobs intact is impossible.” As usual, the fear-mongering media exacerbates the situation by failing to mention that eating poultry doesn't put you at risk to contract the disease.

Hey SW, I'm going to be one of your unfortunates battling for a slice of the tourisn funding. This could RUN and RUN.........Maybe I'll make it a regular blog item...

you know those metal bins for recycling where there are 3 holes for bottles, papers and tins...
well have u ever poked yr hand there?

there is no separate compartments inside my husband saw the collectors lifting the whole bin and dumped all the suppose to be separated trash in one go..

wow - that is just mind boggling. I think Greece is almost 15 years behind most modern countries... The cremation thing just makes me scratch my head - wow!

qick...I wish you all the best of luck in your quest for a piece of the funding pie. For the 356.78€ they'll probably tell you you're eligible for, you'll have to spend at least 5 times that much getting photocopies. LOL

sha...Now why would I ever want to willingly stick my hand in a garbage bin??? You worry me Sha, you really do. LOLOL But you are right about the compartments...I see them empty the recycling bins at the airport the same way...right into the same garbage bag as the rest of the bins. *sigh* One step forward. Two steps back. The Greek National Dance.

expat... Good to see you again! I think they're going to have to cremate everyone upon death in athens since there's no room left to bury them anymore. But at least this is a start.

Thank God on the cremation thing...every ime I went to a cemetary in Greece I would shake my head and wonder how it was an EU country

Huh? Greece doesn't have any cremation facilities? Why doesn't the Church allow cremation? What's their problem with it? Is it because they don't want to speed up the "ashes to ashes...dust to dust" part of the death process? What if a person spontaneously combusts? Is that considered cremation? These are important questions that must be resolved by the Holy Synod. LOL

Hey...wait a minute...why are we allowing the Greek Orthodox Church dictate what is, or isn't, religiously acceptable. These people are responsible for Holygate. (bribery, drug dealing, embezzlement) I suppose all those bishops involved with that scandal will get full burial rites/privileges as long as they don't commit the cardinal sin of cremation.

Oh yeah...I forgot to sign off on that last post (anonymous: 8/3/06 6:49 AM). I take full responsibility for it.

Yours truly,
HRH Queen Bee

Bee...Read my Six Feet Under blog and maybe that will help answer some of your questions.
Also, maybe you should invest in getting a nickname on Blogger since you're always forgetting to use one. It's free you know. LOL

Just wanna see if my new name works.

haha! I am no longer hiding on the cloak of secrecy. The BEE is here!

To the person who said Greece is behind: In what aspect is Greece almost 15 years behind? Do you mean in cremation, in other words did most modern countries allow cremation 15 years ago?

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