Greece has taken a step closer to the creation of a cremation facility in Greece with a decision signed last week by Environment and Energy Minister Giorgos Stathakis that approved its location in the area of Elaionas in western Athens on a plot belonging to the municipality.
Efforts toward the construction of a facility began in 2006, when cremations were legalized in Greece. But despite numerous decisions and announcements since then, the country still does not have a crematorium.
In November 2017, the City of Athens selected Elaionas as the site for the facility. However, given that it took the government two years to finally issue its approval last week, observers note there is still some way to go before a tender is announced for its construction.
This means that, for the time being at least, Greeks whose loved ones wanted to be cremated will most likely still opt for Bulgaria as the closest country with crematoriums.
Furthermore, in 2018, two companies and a bank in Elaionas resorted to the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, to contest the location of the facility.
The plaintiffs contend that the operation of the crematorium could pose a health hazard and maintain that in other countries such facilities are constructed outside urban centers.
Nonetheless, Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis, a former ombudsman, hailed last week’s approval as a “very important development.”
In comments published Tuesday, Kaminis said it will “allow Greece to fulfill its commitment to uphold citizens’ rudimentary rights.”
Facilities have also been approved in the port cities of Thessaloniki and Patra, in the north and west of the country respectively, though progress has been slow.