Minister wants asylum law intact

Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou yesterday said that legislation describing the exceptional circumstances that would allow police to gain access to university campuses was adequate and rejected calls by some academics for a review of the controversial university asylum law. «The legislative framework for university asylum is entirely adequate; we are not going to change it,» Diamantopoulou told Parliament, adding that the government would help academic authorities enforce the provisions. Referring to new legislation introduced in 2007 by the then New Democracy administration, Diamantopoulou was responding to a question submitted to her by an MP of the far-right Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party. The minister noted that «democracy has certain institutions and rules that must be respected,» adding that «we cannot tolerate islands of lawlessness.» Meanwhile, university rectors and deans convened for a summit in the port of Lavrio, southeast of Athens, to discuss the recent spike in abuse of the asylum law by self-styled anarchists. Some of the academics attending proposed a review of the asylum law, which has been in force since 1982 and has been religiously observed on all but a couple of occasions. One of the most senior academics backing reform was Leonidas Louloudis, vice rector of the Agricultural University of Athens. Louloudis noted that university asylum law was «symbolic» rather than practical and suggested the law be amended to determine which parts of the university grounds should be barred to police and which should be accessible if necessary. Another pro-reformist, Haris Xanthoudakis, vice rector of the Corfu-based Ionian University, told the academics’ summit that he believed the asylum law «hampered the smooth operation of universities by leading to delinquent behavior which he said was spilling over into schools and society in general. The academics’ meeting is to continue in Lavrio today, when Diamantopoulou is expected to attend and exchange views with the attending professors.

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