Following the last Eurogroup, the government has decided to institute a series of measures to protect notaries from attack and facilitate the holding of seized property auctions.
The auctions are considered crucial for ensuring the solvency of Greek Banks, which have been battered by the huge number non-performing loans.
The measures include increased security at lower, district courts in Athens, Thessaloniki, and other cities, where the auctions are normally conducted. Auctions have been routinely interrupted, often violent, by groups in solidarity with property owners who are about to lose their homes.
Moreover, the penalties will be stiffened for the crimes of issuing threats and disturbing the peace at the expense of notaries, which will be automatically prosecuted, instead of requiring someone to file a complaint, as the law currently demands.
The measures were announced by Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis, Alternate Public Order Minister Nikos Toskas, and Minister to the Prime Minister Dimitris Liakos, during a conference of the notaries’ associations of Athens, Piraeus, the Aegean, and the Dodecanese.
‘We shall do everything to hold auctions’
The government is touting its resolve to ensure smooth operation of the auctions, which are beginning to be held online so as to avoid the disruptions that have canceled so many of them.
Its main argument is that many debtors who face seizures are strategically or purposely delinquent, people who are financially able to service their loans but do not. “That strategically delinquent borrowers are obliged to pay off their debts is the steadfast position of the government,” a finance ministry source said.
Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos is stressing that the auctions must go forward because otherwise the banks will be in serious trouble, and that will impact on the entire process of exiting Greece’s bailout memorandum.
The minister underlines that banks have agreed to exempt from auctions primary residences of debtors that have a value of 300,000 euros.
Tsakalotos on Monday offered his colleagues in the Eurogroup assurances that the auctions will go forward.
Nikos Karamouzis, the head of the Hellenic Banking association and of Eurobank, stated that at least in the first round of online auctions, primary residences worth up to 300,000 euros will be exempted.
The head of the association of Greek notaries, Yorgos Roussos, told To Vima that the online auctions should be conducted at the lower district courts, so as to ensure a smooth procedure and to protect notaries from the danger of attack.