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28 May, 2024
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Greece’s Cypriot minister takes on bureaucracy

Former Commissioner Christos Stylianides tells Politico that bureaucracy often blocks Greek excellent potential


After almost one year as Greece’s climate minister, former EU Commissioner and Nicosia native Christos Stylianides says he never expected bureaucracy in Athens to be worse than Brussels.

The Cypriot national, who received honorary Greek citizenship last year before becoming Minister for the Climate Crisis and Civil Protection in Greece, gave an interview to Politico this week, saying inertia in the motherland’s system of system of bureaucracy was proving to be a significant frustration.

After serving as EU commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management for five year, and after 10 ten months as Greece's first minister for climate crisis and civil protection, Stylianides said “I wouldn't expect, after having overcome Brussels' bureaucracy, I would find more trouble with Athens' bureaucracy.”

Crises run at 'breakneck speed' but the response is 'still going at traditional speeds' with a lack of clear delineation between agencies and people using the legal system to challenge decisions

“I'm blown away by how capable Greeks are. But this excellent potential is unfortunately often blocked by an unprecedented bureaucracy,” Stylianides said.

The minister said crises were running at “breakneck speed” but the Greek government response was “still going at traditional speeds,” with a lack of clear delineation of responsibilities between agencies exacerbating a situation where people use the country’s convoluted legal system to challenge decisions made by fire department officials.

“I don't want people to have impunity, but now we are dealing with the absolute criminalization of operational decisions and that's crippling to the system," he said.

Stylianides told Politico this was something already changing, saying they were “moving towards the right direction: prevention, preparedness and resilience in terms of natural disaster management.

“The goal is to prevent fires from becoming megafires,” the Nicosia native said.

Stylianides, viewed by many as a mild-mannered politician, had served briefly as government spokesman for Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, who later nominated him for commissioner in Brussels.

But after Anastasiades chose not to nominate him for another stint in 2019, Stylianides became a visiting professor at a university in the UK.

The former Commissioner's close associate in Brussels, well-known Cypriot investigative journalist Makarios Drousiotis, went on to publish a tell-all book about corruption during the haircut and financial crisis in Cyprus.

Drousiotis also recently won a case in the ECHR against the Cypriot state in a freedom of press case.

Cyprus  |  Greece  |  Christos Stylianides  |  climate  |  crisis  |  minister  |  Athens  |  Nicosia  |  EU  |  commissioner  |  bureaucracy  |  fires  |  politics

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