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Athens needs to become a 'liveable' city again, says ND's candidate for mayor

TAGS: Politics, City Life, Interview, Elections

“Athens needs a lot of hard work, planning and a target-oriented strategy” in order to become “liveable” once more, New Democracy's candidate for mayor of the Greek capital said on Friday.

“There are no magicians or wands,” Costas Bakoyannis, who is currently regional governor of Central Greece, where he had previously served as mayor of the town of Karpenissi, told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency in an interview.

The 41-year-old conservative candidate in the May 26 elections said that he has drafted an eight-year plan for transforming Athens, which contains “clear timelines and proposals that have been fully cost-assessed.”

On the issue of sanitation and cleanliness, an area where the Greek capital has often fallen short, the conservative candidate did not rule out the privatization of some services and assured that the municipal authority will be given “all the tools and means to do its job.”

Any cooperation with the private sector, he assured, will be aimed at “helping, not replacing” municipal staff.

Bakoyannis also discussed a plan to “unify” the historic Athens Polytechnic, the National Archaeological Museum and the landmark Acropole Theater in a bid to transform the area off downtown Omonia Square, from a notorious drug and knockoff trading spot to a “hub of culture and beauty.”

On the subject of the far-right's growing influence in the city center and concerns of the continued presence in the municipal authority of neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, which has four members on the 48-seat council, Bakoyannis said that “no one is born a fascist.”

“I believe that the overwhelming majority of those who turn to extreme parties would not do so if they felt that their city had embraced them and supported them on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

“The answer is a return to normality,” Bakoyannis added on the subject. “People should be allowed to move freely on clean and well-lit streets. Children should be allowed to play on public squares and no one should feel that they need to be back home by 8 p.m. because they're frightened.”

His aim, if elected, said Bakoyannis, is to introduce a “different mentality.”

“Athens deserves more than good management,” he told the ANA-MPA. “We want a city that will make us proud, whichever way you look at it.”

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