In a recent interview with Kathimerini, Deputy Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos, a constitutional law expert, spoke extensively of the shortcomings of the Greek justice system.
It is a problem that is enduring and pervasive, affecting society as a whole and negatively impacting the economy. It requires profound reforms and, most importantly, a new mentality for the justice system to stop being an obstacle and become a strong and functional pillar of the country.
It will take more than one political party, of course, to fix the system’s deep and complex problems. To begin with, it would take broad social and political consensus, and an understanding that the reforms would not be undone down the line. After all, whoever comes to power will benefit from swifter trials and decisions, better justice.
With the usual moderation that defines him, Pikrammenos acknowledged that “every government has made an effort” to improve the justice system. But just passing new legislation is not enough. It is not the answer on its own.
What is needed is meritocracy and an evaluation system for judges that will ensure high performance and ethical standards. Society’s confidence in its courts, which has been badly damaged through the years, must be restored. To this end, Pikrammenos – who has also served as caretaker prime minister, but even more importantly, as president of the Council of State – called on his former colleagues to understand that “the justice system cannot be running at 100 when the economy and technology are going at 1,000.”
Even though the tax system is often blamed for the often lackluster interest of foreign and local investors, the truth is that most foreign businesspeople who would consider investing in Greece are put off by its slow and problematic justice system. And it’s not only them of course. Greek workers, businesspeople and pensioners have to contend with these shortcomings every single day.
Rule of law, stability and predictability are key. To attract foreign investments and achieve high rates of growth, Greece needs a modern justice system and Pikrammenos’ comments should serve as a basis for a mature and bold public discussion on how to tackle an issue that affects all of us, and transcends ideological beliefs and party affiliations.
Justice is not just one of the highest social services; it is the backbone of the democratic functioning of a modern state and a healthy economy.