Despite protest rallies by desperate residents in the area around the Pedion tou Areos park in downtown Athens, a slew of official and unofficial proclamations, dozens of initiatives by prominent figures, internet groups and widespread media coverage, no solution has yet been given to the many problems that continue to beleaguer the historic park.
Added to the existing problems of poor cleanliness and maintenance, drug dealing and use, and crime, is the issue of providing park visitors with a sense of security. As long as the state does not step in immediately, these problems will only mount further, leading to more lawlessness and more fear.
There has already been at least one rape attempt against a young woman who crossed the park on her way home from work. She was injured in the assault. The damage wrought by a recent sledgehammer attack on a building on Mavromateon Street was only the latest incident in the long chain of robberies and criminal attacks in the area linked to the park.
You don’t need to be a fortune teller to see that we are heading for an even worse situation.
The police officers who are occasionally seen at the park cannot do much because they are waiting for “orders from above” and, as they say, the decision to take action is “a political one.”
What is certain is that those people living around the park feel like candidate victims 24 hours a day. They have exhausted all the means of communication at their disposal to exert pressure on relevant authorities. Every day they think of what their next step can be. But it appears that the authorities (the Attica Regional Authority and the Citizens’ Protection Ministry) are also waiting for “orders from above.”
In Greece, the “old political system” is always blamed for everything and for this reason we must wait for the creation of the “basis of a new model of good administration.” Until that time a state governed by the rule of law can wait. We can’t have it all.
Other public areas in Athens are similarly plagued by this kind of negligence. The control of public spaces has passed from citizens to drug dealers, hooligans and others who are linked to crime or victims of it.
It’s not just that legal structures are not in place; it’s that the idea of legality is slowly losing its allure.