MINISTRY OF JUSTICE, TRANSPARENCY, Athens, 4-11-2011
AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Dear Members of the Judiciary,
Dear Madams and Sirs,
Firstly, I would like to welcome you to the city of Athens and wish you a most pleasant stay. I am pretty sure that each of you is quite familiar to the history of the place and its significant role played throughout the whole history of mankind. During your walks on the streets of Athens and your visits to the most exquisite sights of the area you will have the chance to feel the essence of the classical era and the glorious past of the city. And, of course, you will have a taste of modern Athens, with all its antitheses and the undeniable signs that the fortunes of this great community have changed, either for better or worse.
Dear friends, as you already know, Greece is going through difficult times. It is sadly true that our country currently monopolises the interest of the international fora for reasons far from pleasant. The global financial crisis has had a dire impact on Greek economy and our society faces serious problems requiring real courage and strong will to be overcome.
But as history has taught us, there has not been and there is no tunnel without an exit. Amidst the darkness and pessimism of economic recession and austerity, a faint light allows us to take a short but hopeful glance on a better and brighter future. Indeed, harsh economic measures have been taken in a brief period of time; to make our economy healthier so as the Greek republic will be able to serve its contractual obligations towards its debtors and regain its nearly-lost reliability.
The next big challenge for Greece bears the name “development”. Our people are determined to fight for the country, take advantage of the vast natural capabilities and the inherent inclinations of the Greek people towards commerce, trade and entrepreneurship. The government is planning the next day of Greek economy, boosting investment and creating an appropriate and healthy business environment with lucrative investing opportunities for the whole world.
In this context, the Greek Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights, acknowledging its historic responsibility, has begun a constant and organised attempt to modernise the Hellenic Judicial system. Through an honest and deep dialogue with all involved parties (judges, academics, bar associations and other practitioners of law) we are drawing up new and innovative legal provisions aiming at one main target: improvement of the administration of Justice, through radical and thorough changes of the way the Greek Justice system currently functions. To tackle all malfunctions and disadvantages of the whole process before the courts and, consequently, to overturn and refute the opinion of citizens and businesses about Greek Justice.
We accelerate the passage to a new technological era in the field of e-justice. The Greek Judicial system is being transformed into a modern mechanism which will exploit in full the advances of technology. The electronic filing of actions, petitions and all legal appeals will begin its full-scale function during the next days. This will significantly facilitate the work of lawyers and officials involved in a currently bureaucratic process that -for the time being- requires time and money to be concluded. The on-line publication of the decisions of the Courts will contribute to the establishment and consolidation of a modern legal culture.
In the same time, the Ministry of Justice has launched an organised and thorough dialogue with all members of the judicial and legal community. Work-groups have been shaped with the objectives of discussing and promoting the acceleration and modernization of trials before the Greek courts, civil, criminal and administrative. During the past two months, senior judges, members of the Supreme Courts, academics from our Universities, experienced lawyers and other designated officials have expressed their ideas and given their large expertise to our attempt to radically reshape Greek Justice and the way it works today, curing its temporal illnesses and anachronistic problems.
Moreover, and maybe for the first time in its history, the Greek Ministry of Justice has adopted a more extrovert attitude celebrating a new era in its international relationships with homologous bodies and services around the European Union and the whole world. For this reason, we have inaugurated a wide circle of contacts with designated officials, exchanging expertise and experience, mainly in the fields of mediation and alternative dispute resolution methods.
Dear Madams and Sirs, it is our strong belief that the historic times that our country is going through require direct, radical changes and innovative solutions. We have to examine and evaluate the mistakes of our past, stand forward and attempt to reshape our society. Justice is the basis of every human community. And every change must begin and end there. A modern, rapid but reliable judicial system is the only way to a stable, viable, anthropocentric development. The principles of the independency of Justice and legal certainty must be guaranteed and this is our main and utmost preoccupation.
To conclude with, and on behalf of the Minister Mr. Miltiadis Papaioannou, I would like to seize this opportunity to renew our highest appreciation to the United States of America Judicial Authorities which have shaped an enviable legal tradition, throughout their centuries-long practice of Law. The whole American legal culture serves as a lighthouse for the global judicial community, setting examples and case-law rules. The Greek Ministry of Justice would like to reassure you that we will continue to safeguard our successful interstate cooperation, either on our bilateral level or through the authorised channels of mutual legal aid between the European Union and the United States of America.
Please, let me once more welcome you to Greece and wish you a nice time here.
Thank you very much.
NICOLAS KANELLOPOULOS SECRETARY GENERAL