Votes for integration

Members of the Greek Community of Clayton have voted in favour of the group’s return to the jurisdiction of the Australian Archdiocese of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The meeting was attended by 106 of the group’s 126 members members, of which 104 voted in favour of the group’s admission – “a move that should have happened a long time ago,” said Athanasios Mantalos, President of the Greek Community of Clayton. The church will now be included on the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese’s jurisdiction for the performance of sacraments, however activities and assets will continue to belong to the church itself. Archbishop Makarios sent a message encouraging the community to vote in favour of unity. “I fervently beseech you to not be influenced by voices that do not look to unity and are not based on love. Personally, I do not want to see the mistakes of the past.”

Babies born outside wedlock

Recent data released by Eurostat has revealed Greece has the lowest number of babies born outside of marriage (1 out of 10 in 2017) among all other countries in the EU, highlighting that traditional values are still important. It’s a similar situation in Cyprus, which was ranked third last, followed by Croatia. Topping the list with the highest number of babies born outside of wedlock was France, with 59.9 per cent of babies born to unwed parents.

No to cremation

Greek Orthodox priests of Thebes and Livadia in central Greece have said they would refuse to perform funeral services for people being cremated, claiming the practice goes against the Christian belief in resurrection of the body and the second coming. “We will not bury those who are cremated,” they said in a written statement. “The Church does not accept the incineration of the body for its members.” The clerics released a message on Tuesday which states that the choice of cremation “indicates a lack of faith and hope as it means the complete annihilation and obliteration of man … It is inconceivable for an Orthodox Christian to deny burial and opt for incineration.”

VAT exemption

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has announced a three-year suspension of value-added tax (VAT) payments on any new building permits, including unsold properties built after January 1, 2006. Announced during the Economist’s 23rd Roundtable discussion with the Government of Greece on Wednesday, the exemption will also apply to cases of ‘antiparochi’ where owners provide their land to builders in exchange for a number of future apartments. A simple application will be set up to claim the exemption. With the country’s real estate market recovering, Mr Mitsotakis said courageous measures were needed to boost construction activity. “The aim is for growth to come from investments and to unblock major investment projects plagued by bureaucracy,” he said.

Police raid Joker screenings

Political furore has erupted over screenings of Joker in Athens. Police were called to at least two movie theatres to check whether unaccompanied minors were present. The psychological thriller starring Joaquin Phoenix has been rated R, meaning viewers must be at least 18 years of age. Police stormed into the cinemas and escorted a number of adolescents to nearby police precincts to be picked up by their parents. Greek Sports and Cuture Minister Lena Mendoni clarified that two officials affiliated with the board that gives ratings to films took it upon themselves to call the police, adding that the action exceeded the jurisdiction of the two government employees. Opposition SYRIZA MEP Stelios Kouloglou warned that the government is pushing the country into an ultra-conservative direction. Meanwhile the decision to empty cinemas of minors was met with criticism on social media, claiming that the measures by the conservative New Democracy government were “authoritarian”.

Melbourne CBD lockdown

Lonsdale Street in Melbourne’s CBD was shut down on Wednesday afternoon, after a bomb squad was called into the QV Building after a suspicious object was found. Greek Community of Melbourne General Secretary Costas Markou told Neos Kosmos that the Greek quarter of Lonsdale Street was unaffected with the street being closed between Cohen Place and Exhibition Street. However one Twitter user said she was evacuated from a building, with traffic blocked in both directions between Lonsdale and Little Lonsdale Streets, including the Greek quarter. Images from the scene published by Nine News appeared to show a bomb disposal unit assessing a small black suitcase from which police reportedly recovered electrical items. The police operation was over by 4.00 pm, with no issues found.