On New Year’s Day 2002, the European currency will be introduced to Greece, confirming the country’s place, gained by so much effort and sacrifice, in the family of modern European societies. At approximately the same time however, a long-term strike planned by lawyers is likely to begin because of the government’s attempt to amend the existing system of meting out justice, a system that has remained largely the same since 1834. This is just another instance of the schizoid nature of Greece, a country which on the one hand is rushing ahead in time with Europe and on the other is still limping along like an Anatolian handcart. This desperately slow pace is perhaps the worst aspect of Greece’s justice system. Cases that should really be tried within the space of a few months, at most, are delayed for up to seven or 10 years, resulting not only in additional costs for those involved, but sometimes a failure to execute justice at all because of the expiration of the statute of limitations. Then there is the fact that we Greeks are among the most litigious of peoples, a tendency that often verges on mania. So the government’s goal of speeding up the process must be supported by the entire population, which should not forgive any partisan reactions to long-overdue reform. According to a survey by this newspaper, there are also some well-founded concerns on the part of the legal establishment, including several distinguished personalities. For example, the lack of technical infrastructure and human resources mean that the reforms either cannot be implemented at all, or will be done so in such a summary way as to have unacceptable repercussions. If the government does not want to thwart the reforms itself, it has a responsibility to provide solutions as soon as possible. In justice, the same law applies as that on the highways – speed kills, unless the road surface is smooth and the driver completely sober. Let us by all means make haste, but cautiously. That is why his close associates tremble at the mere thought of any negative opinion polls. That is why they are desperately seeking PR strategies to enhance the government’s image and that of the prime minister personally.

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