A New Statesman article sets the scene of the anti-mining fight in Greece. It says Ierissos is a remote village on the Chalkidiki Peninsula - the ‘three fingers’ that stick out from the northern Greek mainland into the Aegean. One road out of the village leads to Thessaloníki, the other to the sacred Orthodox site of Mount Athos. Skouries is the ancient mountain forest just outside Ierissos. Within the text, one can also find a helpful timeline. I have added to that with notable moments we’ve blogged about.
The Greek government approves a vast expansion of gold mining in Chalkidki, meaning roughly 380 million tonnes of ore could be extracted in the area, far in excess of the 33 million tonnes that have been mined in the past two millennia.
Bloomberg reports, “Greece implemented the Fast Track programme to spur investment in projects of national importance, including gold mines. The environment ministry has accelerated the issue of permits.” http://canadians.org/blog/?p=19388
3,000 people descended on the streets of Ierissos to make their objections heard. The anti-mining campaigners formed themselves into organising committees, holding regular protests and monitoring the development of the Skouries site.
Canada-based conglomerate Eldorado Gold bought a 95 per cent stake in Hellas Gold - a private company set up by the Greek government to run mines in Chalkidiki.
The Greek government conceded 4.1 square kilometres of the publicly owned Skouries forest to the company so that it could begin work.
Protesters rallied in the surrounding villages and prepared to march to Skouries. On the road into the forest, they encountered a line of riot police who drove them back with tear gas and stun grenades. A media release issued by Initiative 136 notes, “Several hundred men on the payroll of ‘Greek Gold S.A.’, a subsidiary of Canadian company ‘European Goldfields’, attacked a group of local activists that are defending the virgin forests of Chalkidiki against the construction of a mine that will poison the land and water and destroy the future of the local community. One of the defenders is right now in the hospital struggling for his life.” http://canadians.org/blog/?p=14295
Ekathimerini.com reports, “Police fired tear gas to fend off protesters who had gathered in the Skouries area of Chalkidiki, northern Greece, on Sunday to protest gold mining activity. …Hellenic Gold, a subsidiary of Canadian firm Eldorado Gold, has begun mining activity that locals are appealing against.” http://canadians.org/blog/?p=16502
Forex Pros reports, “Local residence associations, cooperatives, and professional groups filed six appeals with the Council of State, Greece’s highest court, to stop further mining activity, arguing that it would destroy local forests and the ecosystem.” http://canadians.org/blog/?p=17145
Villagers panicked as armed police chase them through the forest and shot tear gas at them.
Greek prime minister Antonis Samaras gave his assurance that his government would “at all costs protect foreign investment in the country” and that the scheme would succeed. Yet under the terms of the concession, the Greek state will receive no royalties from minerals extracted. Also this month, the Hellas Gold site was subjected to an arson attack. http://canadians.org/blog/?p=19388
Canadian ambassador to Greece Robert Peck met with Alexandroupolis mayor Evangelos Labakis about a controversial Vancouver-based Eldorado gold mine in northern Greece. http://canadians.org/blog/?p=19635
Anti-terrorism squads and several hundred riot police descended on Ierissos - ostensibly to search suspects’ houses - firing tear gas as they approached. Witnesses claim that gas canisters even landed in the school playground while pupils were at lessons. http://canadians.org/blog/?p=19838
Associated Press report that notes, “More than 10,000 people (took) to the streets of Greece’s second largest city (on March 9) to protest a planned gold mine they see as an environmental risk. Police blocked the crowd’s march to the Canadian consulate in Thessaloniki” http://canadians.org/blog/?p=19901
Kathimerini.com reports that Yiannis Michelakis, an MP for the party that leads the coalition government in Greece, is suggesting that the concession to Eldorado Gold for the Skouries gold mine should be reviewed. The news agency also notes that Panos Skourletis, a spokesperson for the official opposition party SYRIZA, “said the party would cancel the gold mine contract if it comes to power.” http://canadians.org/blog/?p=19912
Mine opponent Maria Kadoglou interviewed on CBC Radio’s As It Happens. http://canadians.org/blog/?p=19968
Xinhua reports, “Greek citizens took to the streets of Athens on Tuesday to protest against a gold mining investment in northern Greece. Nearly 1,500 demonstrators marched to the parliament, shouting slogans against the project run by Canadian company Eldorado Gold, claiming that it will damage the local environment.” http://canadians.org/blog/?p=19995
While in Tunisia (just across the Mediterranean Sea from Greece), the Blue Planet Project met with Greek activists Maria Kanelopoulo and Theo Karyotis. http://canadians.org/blog/?p=20272
Greek mining opponents visit Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.
The Blue Planet Project helps to promote a petition against the mines. http://canadians.org/blog/?p=21533
The article concludes, “The Skouries campaign has become a symbolic issue for people all over Greece.”
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