It’s hard to imagine, but just a few short months ago if you passed away in Greece and wanted to be cremated the only option available was to travel to Bulgaria. A minimum seven hour drive from Athens to the border.
Cremation seems like a standard service that can be offered in most countries, however Greek officials struggled for over two years to get a facility open and bring the county in line to the EU code. While it is not in line with the consensus of the Greek Orthodox Church, Environment and Energy Minister Giorgos Stathakis approved the construction of the much awaited cremation facility this past March and the new facility has finally been built in Ritsona, about 70 km from Athens.
The prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, described the measure as “one of the most important and necessary reforms”, and the city’s mayor, Giorgos Kaminis, said it was a “landmark step” and that now the state will finally be able to fulfill its commitment to “upholding citizens’ basic rights.”
Greece now can officially begin to offer cremation options to families for the first time in 13 years. Beyond offering the public a basic right, the opening of cremation services can help with the problem of full graveyards in the country’s big municipalities, and relief survivors from paying expensive fees, burials and grave maintenance. Which currently can be so impacted that deceased are exhumed after only three years from their passing. According to the president of the Greek Cremation Society, Antonis Alakiotis Greece was the last country in Europe that did not have incineration facilities. Making Greece the final frontier within the EU for new cremation services and products to expand.