grreek

 

 

One of the basic principles proclaimed by the European Union authorities is respect for the rights of the most vulnerable and in particular those with disabilities. This principle imposes an obligation on states to respect the mobility rights of all citizens. Such an obligation stems from both general legal texts such as the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights as well as more specific ones like the regulations of co-financed by European Funds projects, e.g. Council Regulation 1083/2006 which provides that NSRF 2007-2013 projects must be appropriate for use by people with disabilities.

In Greece, in contrast to what is happening in the more civilized countries, the administration has in this regard as its utmost priority to facilitate motor traffic and maximize the use and sales of private cars and motorcycles. To achieve this goal it has surrendered all the free space of cities to motor traffic and minimized the space dedicated to people. The situation on the sidewalks is so bad that people on wheelchairs, blinds (especially unaccompanied) etc are disappeared from public places, being this way subjected to a form of social exclusion. This is a clear violation of Article 21 (prohibition of discrimination). due to disability and age), 25 (rights of the elderly) and 26 (inclusion of people with disabilities) of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The rest of the pedestrians are often forced to walk on the road pavement and risk being run over by cars and motorcycles. This occurs, for this reason, at a significantly higher frequency than countries with proper sidewalks, in violation of Articles 2 (right to life), 3 (right to the integrity of the person) and 6 (right to liberty and security) of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. It is difficult to find in Greece a walking distance of just a few hundred meters on a sidewalk in accordance with state of the art standards. This walking obstruction and harassment by the threatening motorized traffic has a detrimental effect on health in violation of Article 35 (Health care) and creates degrading conditions of movement in the streets in violation of Article 1 (human dignity) of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

In Greece, this policy is officially enacted through legislation, or rather the absence of effective legislation for the sidewalks. The construction of sidewalks suitable for use by people with disabilities is not compulsory for anyone who constructs road works so that, even in central areas of Greek cities, the sidewalk can be stopped on undeveloped plots, abused in various ways, planted, turned into parking lot or otherwise destroyed without any consequences for the perpetrators. The relatively most inclusive legislative text on the protection of people with disabilities (52907/28.12.2009 ministerial decision, article 2 - Government Gazette 2621B / 2009) is based on the assumption that 70 cm of unobstructed sidewalk width is sufficient space for wheelchair traffic. And the 1.50 m wide barrier-free sidewalk, which is the absolute minimum in international standards e.g. OECD Recommendations (European Conference of Ministers of Transport, Improving transport for people with mobility handicaps, OECD 2000OECD 2000, pp19-21 ), is the maximum it provides, even for sidewalks with significant pedestrian traffic (commercial roads, metro accesses, etc.) Even these inadequate sidewalk dimensions are not mandatory for those who build them, but are referred to as simple recommendations, which are rarely respected in practice. This inhuman policy, as it turns out, has the silent approval of the European authorities, who not only tolerate the 70cm "sidewalks", but also fund them by wasting European taxpayers' money. Last years the European Union has imposed to Greece a series of "reforms" to restore, presumably, a sound and effective administration, in accordance with international practice. However, it seems the OECD recommendations are followed only when they envisage wage and pension cuts and not when, as in this case, in addition to economic efficiency (eg, in this case, the attractiveness of tourism products), they also result in the improvement of living and mobility conditions of a large part of the population. The European Commission scrutinizes procedures when the budget goes a little beyond supposedly optimal figures, but when human rights are violated, they very easily and conveniently turn a blind eye.

In the following you can have a glimpse of the sort of sidewalks approved by the European Commission, which are typical and completely representative cases of Greek "sidewalks". Violation of European legislation on accessibility by persons with disabilities (Regulation 1083/2006, Charter of Fundamental Rights) in all these cases has been reported to the European authorities, who pretend that they are persuaded by the false assurances of the Greek authorities that they will correct the projects to make them accessible to people with disabilities and, covered by legal tricks, do nothing about it and refuse to impose state of the art standards, e.g OECD recommendations. The Greek authorities encouraged by their European overlords pretend in turn that 70cm wide sidewalks are suitable for the movement of people, an allegation which is ridiculous, to put it as mild as possible. And both hammer the disabled and most vulnerable citizens condemning them to inhuman conditions and, occasionally, to death by "accident".

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