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Greek Mayor chastises Canadian Ambassador over Canadian mining company

Canadian ambassador to Greece Robert Peck recently met with Alexandroupolis mayor Evangelos Labakis about a controversial Vancouver-based Eldorado gold mine in northern Greece. In a TV news report, the Mayor tells the Canadian Ambassador to Greece that local mayors are prepared to “rise in revolt” against the Canadian mining company.

In the televised meeting, the ambassador tells the mayor that the Canadian government supports the Perama Hill mine, and that the Greek government has given permission for the mine through their Fast Track approval program. But the mayor tells him that the mine will destroy the environment and that they will continue to resist it. A translated excerpt of the Mayor’s comments is included below.

“Under the Harper government, foreign policy has overwhelmingly become shameless PR for Canadian mining, oil and gas companies,” said Council of Canadians national chairperson Maude Barlow. “The disturbing reality is that people around the world increasingly see mining companies as Canada’s true ambassadors. With the industry’s track record on environmental and human rights abuses, we have an obligation to speak out against these unacceptable practices and the federal government’s support for them.”

News reports have noted that in November 3,000 protesters in Northern Greece marched against what they see as serious threats to the environment from gold mining projects, like that of Eldorado. The protesters had planned on marching to the Canadian Consulate but were barred by riot police.

There are four gold mining projects in Northern Greece in which Eldorado is involved. Eldorado’s Olympias and Skouries gold mines are expected to enter full production by 2015.



Comments from Alexandroupolis mayor Evangelos Labakis to Canadian Ambassador

The video (in Greek) can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XuIfISfXD8. The original Greek transcription is also available upon request.

“We have studies that establish the utter devastation and we don’t want to discuss it any further. We are tired. What we want from you is to leave us alone so that we can develop here our agriculture, our stock farming, our fishery, our tourism, our forests, so that we can manage, through what we know, to keep the purity of our country, to advance.

“If you really appreciate the Greek people, and especially this sensitive area, leave us alone because we cannot stand it anymore. And please keep in mind – for letting you know the whole truth and conclude – that even if they get permission from Athens, which is your ally, Athens is with you, even if they get permission, please bear in mind that I and our fellow citizens, will go there, in Perama, and will prevent the bulldozers to dig our holy soil.

“So, if Athens does not consider the interests and the life, the life itself of the Thracians, here in Thrace, the mayors of Thrace are indifferent of the decisions of Athens and rise in revolt.

“You will get the gold, the 450 tons and we will keep the cyanide? Why should we do that when we have the opportunity to develop and we will do it?

“And when, Mr. Ambassador, we will have the ability to exploit the gold – because we don’t say no to the exploitation of the mineral wealth, we say yes, yes to sodium astrio, to a bunch of other things that exist, yes to copper, and I don’t know what else – but we say an unequivocal no to anything that needs cyanosis.”