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History

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Justice in Greece

The judicial function

The current Constitution of Greece establishes its system of government as a Parliamentary Republic, founded on popular sovereignty (Article 1 paragraphs 1 and 2). The judicial function is one of the three independent and equal functions, together with the legislative and the executive, that, according to the fundamental and non-revisable principle of the separation of functions (enshrined in Article 26 of the Constitution), constitute an organizational basis of the system of government.

Courts and Judges

According to the Constitution, justice is administered by the ordinary courts that are constituted by judges who enjoy independence guarantees, both on a functional and personal level. The ordinary courts are divided into administrative, civil and criminal and are organized by special legislation.

Administrative justice is administered by the Council of State and the ordinary administrative courts (Articles 94 and 95 of the Constitution). The administrative justice includes also the Court of Auditors, defined as the highest court with special powers  established in Article 98 of the Constitution.

Civil and criminal justices are administered by the Courts of First Instance and Courts of Appeal, the Supreme Appeal Court being Areios Pagos. Within the jurisdiction of these courts fall the resolution of private and voluntary jurisdiction disputes (Article 94 paragraph 2 of the Constitution), the punishment of crimes and the undertaking of any measures provided by criminal laws (Article 96 paragraph 1 of the Constitution). In criminal courts we have the participation of the public prosecutor that belongs to the prosecutorial branch; the members of this branch enjoy the same legal guarantees of independence with judges.

National School of Judges

The National School of Judges was founded in 1994 in response to Article 88 par. 3 of the Constitution; it welcomed its first students in 1995, and simultaneously began further training of judges and prosecutors already in service. The school mainly aims to inspire students, judges and prosecutors under training with high morale and independence of opinion, to build ethos, to strengthen the beliefs in democracy and freedom, to communicate  representations of  the social and economic life of the country, to highlight both the European and international dimension of the law, to develop critical faculties not only  for when approaching the law, but also when evaluating phenomena in a general society, to teach judicial speech, written and spoken, and, finally , to open up horizons for intellectual growth and for contact with the arts and culture. Judicial education seeks to create modern judges and prosecutors, able to meet the challenges of our times that require a great variety of knowledge as well as a wide range of skills.

The National School of Judges, which was founded by law 2236/1994, (as replaced with law 3689/2008 and 3910/2011 which are the current legislative framework) has the following bidirectional aims:

selection, education and training of those intended to occupy positions as judges in the State Council, in the Court of Auditors, in administrative, civil and criminal courts, as well as of prosecutors of the public prosecutor's office

continuous training of judges currently in service.

The NSJ in order to fulfill these aims takes the following steps and measures:

- It designs and implements education and training programs in the context of both the pre-entry training of students and of that of training judges and prosecutors currently in service.

- It organizes conferences, seminars, workshops and lectures on objects that enrich the legal expertise and the wider education of students, serving judges and prosecutors with contributions and speeches by judges and prosecutors, academic scholars, scientists, public officials and employees, personalities from the world of politics and economics, art and literature.

- It plans scientific meetings between Greek and foreign judiciary officials and specialists, with a view to exchange views, experiences, thoughts and reflections on contemporary issues that concern not only the legal science, but also, in a broader sense, the social sciences such as criminology, sociology, the interrogative, correctional, administrative and political sciences, political economy and public finance, audit and accounting.

- It organizes seminars and workshops with the participation of European experts, for the further training of judges and prosecutors engaged in administration courts and prosecutor offices, in order to convey the modern principles of judicial management so as to efficiently manage the workload of cases and the overall administration of services whose departments they head.

- It organizes meetings of faculty for the purpose of exchanging ideas and experiences, so that the teaching methodology be enriched with new techniques and meets the expectations of students.

- it carries out publications

- It collaborates with other organizations in the public and private sector, bar associations, universities, scientific companies, etc.

- The NSJ is a member of the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN) and through this network participates in exchange programs of judges and prosecutors with a view to train them on current issues, as well as in the other student training programs which are developed through the participation of students from judges’ schools operating across Europe. Furthermore, it undertakes initiatives for cooperation both with European institutions offering training on issues relating to justice (eg OSCE ), and with educational institutions of European countries which have judicial education as their subject (eg. Ecole National d 'Administration), and organizes educational trips to European courts (ECJ, ECHR) to inform students about the operation and the work of these institutions.

- The School opens channels of communication with the intellectual world of the country, organizing conferences and meetings of judges with representatives of culture and art, to highlight the close relationship of the judge with the wit and the intellect. The judicial task is basically a deeply intellectual process. The judge is not -and must not be- a bureaucrat, nor an employee solely interested in processing a file. He must be an officer of intellect.

Thessaloniki

The National School of Judges is located in Thessaloniki, in a context of a general effort of decentralization of services of the State, especially in what is the sensitive object of training judges and prosecutors.

Thessaloniki was a historical figure, the sister of the greek leader Alexander the Great, and wife of the king of the region of Macedonia Kassandros. The later gave her name to the city he founded on 315 BC. This very city, one of the few in Europe with an uninterrupted historical and cultural route, is the modern metropolis of northern Greece, cosmopolitan, modern and lively, but at the same time a city -museum that highlights the wealth and splendor of the Byzantine Empire. Located on a sunny seashore, home of communication and exchanges, a crossroad in the Balkans and the wider European and Mediterranean area, Thessaloniki has been for millennia a center of Hellenism with flourishing commercial, economic, cultural and religious life. Over the centuries, Thessaloniki has been named  ‘great, prosperous, proudest city’, ‘city of graces’, ‘garden of Muses’, ‘mother of all Macedonia’, ‘jewel of Greece’, ‘eye of Europe’, ‘co-reigning Byzantine capital’, ‘metropolis of the Balkans’. Today Thessaloniki is home to three universities, to the International Fair and two International Film Festivals (short film and feature film festivals), during which a great number of conferences and events are held.

CULTURAL - INTELLECTUAL LIFE

In Thessaloniki the culmination of cultural life comes in October, the month on which the revived Byzantine ‘Demetria’. However, artistic and intellectual life in Thessaloniki is vibrant the entire year. Top cultural events such as film festivals (Greek and foreign), song and book festivals and spring events including theatrical, musical and dance performances focusing on the National Theatre of Northern Greece, the Thessaloniki Concert Hall Organization, the Forest Theatre and Royal Theater are just some of the artistic events open to the visitor. The cultural institutions of the city, with its major Society for Macedonian Studies, the Institute for Balkan Studies, the Centre for Byzantine Research, the Teloglion Foundation and the homonymous Gallery, the Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies, the Greek Language Centre and many others are institutions that study history and culture of Thessaloniki and the wider Balkan region.

MUSEUMS

Thessaloniki charmingly reconstructs for her visitors a rich and colorful past with its numerous museums. The most important museum is the Archaeological Museum which houses a rich collection of prehistoric, Roman and classical findings, and especially the artistic treasures and objects from the royal tombs of Vergina, causing worldwide interest. Equally important are the Museum of Byzantine Culture, the White Tower, Museum for the Macedonian Struggle, the Municipal Gallery with art collections of major Greek artists, and other Museums and Institutions of specialized fields that attract thousands of visitors and impress people with the uniqueness, historical value, diversity and incomparable aesthetics of their exhibits.

CHURCHES AND MONUMENTS

A great number of Byzantine churches, scattered around the city, small and large, perfectly preserved, , with excellent and unique murals and rare mosaics (Agios Dimitrios, Agia Sophia, Aheropoiitos, Agios Nikolaos Orfanos, Agia Aikaterini, Panagia ton Halkeon, Agioi Apostoli, Monastery of Vlatadon etc.), are masterpieces of Byzantine architecture, built in the historic center and around it from the 6th century AD onwards, that have operated continuously for religious worship for centuries up until today, decisively set the character of the city. The city is adorned by numerous monuments from all eras (such as the White Tower, which is the symbol of Thessaloniki, the Arch and Palace of Galerius, the Rotonda, the Roman Baths, the Eptapyrgio, the Government House Square, the Agora, etc.), which reflect its glorious, long and diverse ancestral heritage.

CHARACTER

Thessaloniki is a very warm, human, welcoming city. Its name is associated with the unique tastes of the oriental tradition, with selected varieties of Macedonian wine, with velvety flavors, which has constituted for centuries an integral part of Greek culture; with beautiful sunsets over the Thermaikos Gulf, when the sweet afternoon sun disappears behind the purple mountain of the gods, Mount Olympus. It is a city that combines the spiritual with the material, that philosophizes, creates and progresses, loves and enjoys life.

EXCURSIONS

Staying in Thessaloniki can easily be combined with an archaeological walk to important sites of the Macedonian land. The main milestones of such a tour are Eges, in the location that is now called Vergina, the first capital of Macedon, where the famous royal tombs are located; Pella, also a capital of the Macedonians, birthplace of Alexander the Great;  Dion, the sacred city of the Macedonians, (also dubbed the Delphi and Olympia in the north); also, Stagira of Halkidiki, birthplace of the philosopher Aristotle, the teacher of Alexander the Great. Finally, it is worth visiting the Holy Mountain, the "Garden of the Virgin", a monastic state that is unique in the world, located in a natural and spiritual paradise with exceptional churches, architectural splendor, paintings, rare icons and relics that make it a living museum of the Orthodox tradition.