ECONOMY

Greek islands not for sale

Prime Minister George Papandreou told leading German daily Bild that Greece?s islands are not for sale, responding to a campaign by the tabloid calling for Athens to sell some of its islands in order to solve its debt problems.

“Anything like that is ruled out,» Papandreou told Bild in an interview published on Thursday, when asked about selling islands.

“You’ve simply got to understand how important these islands are for Greece and Greek history. We’ve spent enormous sums in defence budgets to secure the islands near the Turkish coast.”

Bild, Germany’s best-selling paper, has been campaigning for almost a year for Greece to consider selling islands as a way to reduce its debt mountain.

Opinion polls show Germans overwhelmingly oppose taxpayers bailing out Greece and other euro zone countries with huge debts.

“The islands are our cultural heritage, and they’re also cherished by German tourists. If we were to sell our islands to a few super-rich people, they’d be closed off for everyone after that,» Papandreou said.

“We want to develop this unique natural landscape carefully and ecologically — that will bring far more,» he said.