NEWS

PM: restoring central Athens ?a priority?

Prime Minister Lucas Papademos on Wednesday described the restoration of Athens, in particular its run-down historic center, as ?an urgent need and a top priority? during a speech at the launch of an international architectural competition for a revamp of central Athens dubbed ?Rethink Athens.?

?It is clear that the historic center is in decline and it is our duty to do safeguard it,? Skai quoted Papademos as telling the launch.

The project is being organized by the Onassis Foundation, which launched the competition at its cultural center on Wednesday, appealing to European architects to propose ideas for a revamp of the city center. The foundation said it would fund the initiative.

The overhaul is to cover several blocks, with the nucleus being central Panepistimio Street, and the aim is to connect major landmarks and archaeological sites including the Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum using widespread pedestrianization.

The news came as authorities heralded a police sweep of the city center with the aim of detaining undocumented immigrants but also to crack down on illegal trade and the open use of drugs by addicts.

Authorities are planning to transfer the migrants arrested in the sweeps to a former military facility near Kozani, in northern Greece, where they are to be temporarily held while their status is reviewed.

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