Environment Minister Giorgos Souflias rejected the negative publicity that Greece has been getting on environmental issues during a speech yesterday. «The picture some people are trying to paint about the environment in our country is distorted and unfair to Greece,» he told the monitoring committee of the Environment and Sustainable Development program for the 2007-2013 period. «For us the environment is a priority in practice, not in promises, and that is not because it has recently become fashionable,» Souflias stressed, adding that «Greece has specific problems that are not so big and these can be tackled with planning and with work. We are being unfair to ourselves when we play public relations games on the back of the environment and at the expense of our homeland.» «On January 23, the International Herald Tribune published a chart of 133 countries using as a criterion a recent environmental performance index developed by Yale and Columbia universities in the USA. On a scale of 1 to 100, Greece scored 80.2, which is better than countries such as Germany, the USA, Italy, Spain, Cyprus etc, and almost at the same level as France and Japan,» said the minister. Souflias explained that the Environment and Sustainable Development program includes projects with a total budget of -4.3 billion. The projects were chosen according to the national strategic development plan for the environment sector and their urgency dictates their completion by 2013. He added that this has to be compared with the 2000-2006 period, when the environment was not treated fairly by the ministry.