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A vote has been held in Greece’s Parliament on the proposal to add protection for animal rights to the Greek Constitution. Unfortunately, the vote has rejected the proposal, leaving animals unprotected by the Greek Constitution, bringing great disappointment to the advocates who fought for the amendment, and revealing the heavy influence of moneyed interests in making this decision.
Apart from the Communist Party and a few Members of Parliament (MPs), all political parties voted against the constitutional animal welfare amendment, while some MPs abstained from the vote. Ministers and MPs from the left-wing political coalition SYRIZA have principal responsibility for this result, as the current Greek government is SYRIZA-led. They have betrayed the hopes of thousands of citizens who struggle daily to protect stray animals. This decision will not go unanswered by the animal rights movement.
SYRIZA MPs and Ecologist Greens claimed that the introduction of Article 24A, the proposed animal welfare amendment, would pose a threat to environmental protection. This is nonsense. We believe that the real reason is a lack of political will. The Greek government serves interests that abuse and torture animals, a fact confirmed by a revealing announcement by the Hunting Federation of Greece.
In their announcement, The Hunting Federation of Greece stated that they had made multiple contacts with politicians in order to convince them that the adoption of constitutional animal protection would pose risks for fishing, hunting, livestock farming, and recreational or commercial animal breeding.
We, the Panhellenic Animal Welfare and Environmental Federation, would like to highlight the following points regarding the vote to reject the animal welfare constitutional amendment.
On behalf of the Greek government, the adoption of Article 24A was recommended by Mr. G. Katrougalos, who is a constitutional expert and had the major responsibility over the review process. He voted in favor of the proposal and put forward several arguments for its adoption to the Parliamentary Committee. Greek Prime Minister and SYRIZA leader, Mr. Alexis Tsipras, voted in favor of Article 24A. However, he made no effort to persuade other members of his party to support constitutional animal protection.
Both SYRIZA and Ecologist Greens have made a decision with harmful effects on the environment and animals, during the period of time that their members were responsible for the affairs of the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change. Additionally, it is very disappointing that Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Minister of Rural Development and Food, and Minister of Citizens’ Protection voted against the proposal, even though all of these ministries are related to animal protection.
No more pretending. Powerful and wealthy interests, which were contrary to the interests of animals, have prevailed. This was a defeat for morals and ideals, and it was a defeat for Greece. However, the refusal of constitutional animal protection was not a defeat for citizens who care about animals, and we will continue to fight for the rights of animals in Greece.
Featured image: a stray kitten on the streets of Crete, Greece. Image credit Neal Fowler, CC BY-SA 3.0.