Hundreds of riot police officers are to be withdrawn from Keratea, southeastern Attica, where residents have been violently protesting plans for a landfill and locals are to dismantle a four-month blockade, it was agreed on Monday in talks between the local mayor and Citizens? Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis.
Papoutsis agreed to start withdrawing police from the area on the condition that locals who have been manning barricades on the main road outside the town since December also move away from the area.
The talks that led to a breakthrough in the impasse appear to have been brokered by Bishop Nikolaos of Mesogeia and Lavreotiki who met with Costas Levantis, the mayor of Lavreotiki, on Sunday. Although it remained unclear exactly what was discussed on Sunday, it is believed that the cleric emphasized the imminence of Easter as an opportunity to declare a truce.
Sources told Kathimerini that Papoutsis had informed Prime Minister George Papandreou over the weekend of his intention to hold talks with local authority leaders. The same sources said that State Minister Haris Paboukis had been aware of the planned overture due to his friendship with the bishop.
Apparently though Interior Minister Yiannis Ragousis, whose ministry is in charge of overseeing the creation of sanitary landfills to replace illegal dumps, had not been informed of Papoutsis?s plans and neither had Environment Minister Tina Birbili.
There are reportedly plans for a meeting next week between Birbili and Levantis, who plans to submit to the minister his town?s counterproposal for waste management in the area.
A source at the Interior Ministry told Kathimerini on Monday that the ?withdrawal of the police [from Keratea] did not mean that the project [to construct the landfill] would be frozen.?
Meanwhile it emerged that the Attica regional authority has sent a letter to the consortium charged with building a landfill in Keratea, calling on it to ?continue with the project unhindered, without delay and subject to the approved time frame.?
The police workers? union last week sued the Greek police force over the ?unacceptable conditions? faced by officers deployed in Keratea. Officers have been involved in running battles with residents hurling firebombs and stones at them for several months.