15 January, 2008
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday evening pledged to fight corruption through a "comprehensive medium-term and long-term strategy, with bold changes and reforms," while addressing a one-day conference organized by the Greek Section of the non-governmental organization "Transparency International", on the theme "State and Corruption.
The event was held at the Athens Concert Hall.
"In our country, the countdown has already begun. This is the truth. And this truth cannot be covered up by any shadow," the prime minister said, adding:"In the past four years we have closed many gaps and we have tackled chronic weaknesses of the public sector, we have introduced rules which shed light into its functioning, we have promoted adjustments which render unbearable the cost of corruption for those guilty, we have referred and we are contining to refer to justice every case of irregularity, arbitrariness, illegality," the prime minister underlined.
The prime minister said that the government's fight against corruption "led to the improvement of our country's position from the relevant assessment, from 4.3 in 2004 to 4.6 in 2007," while he summed up the legislation against corruption introduced by the government.
"Our will is strong. Our position is clear. Legality everywhere. Ethical administration everywhere. Transparency everywhere," Karamanlis said.
"This is the road which the citizens demand. And in this road we continue steadfastly, decisively, unwavering. We are, and will be in constant clash with every sick phenomenon. We are determined to change things which hassle and bitter the citizens. We are determined to achieve this. We owe it to all the Greeks," the prime minister added.
Karamanlis also stresssed that corruption harms social justice. "Corruption delays the developmental course and brings about an enormous economic cost. It undermines the functioning of the State and threatens the essence and quality of democracy. In the final analysis, a chronic illness which does not accept one-dimensional interpretations."
The prime minister assessed that the phenomena of corruption are fed by the deep rooted conceptions and mentalities in society, and indirectly referred to the previous governments.
"Conceptions according to which public functionaries could accept 'gifts' were catastrophic. Mentalities of compromise with the existing bad realities fed strong tendencies in the expansion of corruption. The identification of the state with each government had extremely unfavourable repercussions," Karamanlis said.
The prime minister further said that corruption benefits from bureaucratic procedures.
He said that "the state is the big patient in our country. Corruption, however, does not only develop in the public sector, but also in the private sector. It is not a unified and homogenic problem. It is a structural and chronic issue. Complex and multi-levelled. Political, economic but also social. Its confrontation demands systematic, constant, persistent work."
Karamanlis added:"Things do not change but only through targetting, struggle and determination. They change with comprehenisive medium-term and long-term strategy. With bold changes and reforms. With the activation of the citizens, the broad social recruitment. What is certain however is that things are changing."
Greek Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis and the head of the global anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International Huguette Labelle on Monday signed a cooperation memorandum for the hosting of the 13th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) to take place in Athens at the end of October.
The conference, billed as the leading world meeting by experts on this issue, will take place over three day, starting on October 30 and ending on November 2.
The cooperation memorandum concerns the planning, organisation and financial support of the 13th IACC in Athens. According to a justice ministry announcement, it also underlines the Greek government's desire for a deeper approach to the handling of corruption and organised crime, one that will lead to specific proposals, initiatives and solutions.
He also repeated the justice ministry's plans to bring draft legislation ratifying the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) to Parliament in the near future, saying that this would give the country a bigger and more up-to-date legal arsenal against problems of this kind.
The 13th IACC is expected to bring together some 1,500 experts and practitioners on governance, among them several heads of state and government, who will discuss ways of protecting democratic institutions from corruption.
The justice ministry has been placed in charge of organising the conference, in direct liaison with the local chapter of TI and the organisation's international headquarters in Berlin. Funding for the IACC conference has already been secured by Greek Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, the government announcement added.
Source: Athens News Agency