‘A bit won’t hurt’

«The Agriculture Ministry is indeed making a very small area available. But for heaven’s sake, we have called all of Greece forest. About 60 percent of Greece’s land surface is classified as forest,» Environment and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou said last year during a Parliament summer session debate on the controversial article of the Constitution and the amendment of the zoning law to satisfy the demands of AEK officials. What conclusions should one draw from this statement by a minister whose main job is to defend forests and the State’s assets in general? Should one conclude that it is of little importance whether the State gives away forestland, bit by bit? Of course state assets are not for the State to give away, nor for the government nor Parliament nor any minister who happens to hold office at a particular time. No one has the right to give away pieces of it, particularly a park in the heart of Athens, an oasis within a concrete desert. The government bears huge responsibilities for this particular issue. It is no coincidence that an attempt was made to pass off the project as «Olympic,» a classification that would allow it to bypass environmental and zoning regulations. In the end, the AEK stadium will not be used for the Games, since (IOC official) Denis Oswald rejected it, obviously because of problems of access.

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