"The importance of a truly independent authority at a time of general suspicion is enormous," Greek Ombudsman Andreas Pottakis said in an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) marking the 20th anniversary since the office of Ombudsman was established in Greece.
Tasked with mediating between citizens and the state, in order to protect their rights, the Greek ombudsman has received more than a million requests for its assistance in that time, Pottakis revealed in the interview.
Pottakis, who took over as ombudsman in July 2016, said that little in the "culture" of public administration had changed over the years as far as ordinary citizens were concerned, and while its cost may be smaller its efficiency was not greatly improved, though the citizens' obligations to the state had increased.
"It is not hostile [to citizens] but it is indifferent. This is perhaps the greatest problem. Often it takes arguments and many hours of discussion to overcome formalities and blatant bureaucratic inflexibility and sidestep and obstinate legalism," he said.
As to the state's compliance with the Ombudsman's decisions, Pottakis said that this was "quite good" though in some cases there were delays in compliance on a practical level and others when public administration had refused the Ombudsman's recommendations.
"We ensure that our recommendations have good legal arguments and that there is satisfactory dialogue with all sides. Thus we make it as hard as possible for anyone to counter with serious arguments," he said.Greek Ombudsman talks to ANA about institution's 20-year presence in Greece.