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Transporting bodies for cremation in Bulgaria is not decreasing despite the crisis

15 October 2015 / 18:10:40  GRReporter
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The Greek Ministry of Environment has defined the legal framework for the establishment of crematoria in the country. An amendment to the law that was adopted last year stipulated that crematoria could be built at locations different from cemeteries, which significantly simplified the procedure. The last obstacle in the process was the legal restriction that entitled only municipalities to build crematoria. They in turn bent under pressure from the Church and the extreme religious circles that oppose their operation.

Under the new decision of Minister of Environment and Energy Panos Skourletis, the establishment of crematoria will follow the procedure of "exemplary environmental commitments."
Greece adopted the law on cremation in 2006 - a century after many Western countries did so. Nevertheless, it could not be put into practice, since the state did not define the specific conditions for the construction of crematoria. In 2010, a decision was issued that regulated a number of technical issues but there was a condition to establish crematoria near the cemeteries, which again complicated the process. In parallel, the change of legislation in 2011 again made mandatory the specifying of restrictions relating to environmental protection. In 2014 a law was passed, which abolished the requirement to locate crematoria near cemeteries, allowing their establishment almost everywhere, except for spaces with residential buildings.

At the same time, the restriction that only municipalities could build crematoria was still in force. Over the past years, several Greek municipalities such as those in Athens, Thessaloniki, Volos, Markopoulo and others tried to proceed towards the creation of such facilities but the Greek Orthodox Church hampered their efforts.

Thus, the only option for those Greeks who have chosen to be cremated after death is to send their bodies for cremation abroad, Bulgaria being the most preferred for this because of its geographical proximity to Greece. "If the Greek government had allowed private companies to build crematoria, the problem would have been solved at least 10 years ago," owner of funeral agency Nikos Kiriakidis told the newspaper Kathimerini. "Transporting bodies to Bulgaria has not decreased despite the crisis. To the contrary, the requests for a priest to perform the funeral service before sending them there has decreased," he states. According to the newspaper, cremation prices in Bulgaria start from 1,900 euro.

Tags: SocietyCrematoriaGreek Orthodox ChurchLawTransportation of bodies to Bulgaria
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