Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Tuesday the government reached a “historic agreement” with the Greek Orthodox Church to settle the issue of Church assets, as part of a constitutional revision aimed at changing relations with the state.
“Today, we stand before a historic agreement for the benefit of both sides…Our aim is to strengthen the autonomy of the Greek Church, recognizing its role,” he said in a joint televised address with Archbishop Ieronymos at Maximos Mansion.
According to the joint communique issued after Tsipras' statements, the two sides will set up a fund to manage and develop property claimed by both the Church and the state since 1952, along with any other asset the Church voluntarily transfers to this fund.
The revenues and obligations from the property development will be equally divided among the two sides.
Tsipras also said that clerics will no longer be considered civil servants and will therefore be excluded from their official payroll, the Single Payments Authority, however the state will still pay annually the same amount it pays for their wages to the Church as a subsidy.
The annual subsidy will be paid into a special Church fund and will be used exclusively to pay the clergy.
“What we and this agreement are showing is our intention to move a step forward, with mutual respect for one another,” the Archbishop said.
According to the joint communique, these proposals will serve as a blueprint for further talks between the two sides. Tsipras said the cabinet and the Holy Synod will convene at a later stage to decide whether to approve these proposals.