Gov’t plays down delay of capital revamp projects

Infrastructure Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis on Monday played down calls by the European Commission for two EU-subsidized regeneration projects for the broader Athens area to be postponed, noting that the EC had simply expressed “reservations” and that the works would go ahead.

“The commission has not rejected anything,” Chrysochoidis said, responding to reports over the weekend according to which the EC does not see the pedestrianization of Panepistimiou Street in central Athens and the revamping of the Faliro coastline south of the capital as suitable for EU funding at this point. Some 440 million euros in EU funding had been earmarked for the projects as part of a 5-billion-euro package of subsidized public works. Following the EC’s objections, the government was obliged to sign off on the package minus the two programs, Chrysochoidis admitted. But he said studies linked to the projects would proceed and heralded a tender for the construction of anti-flood works in Faliro as a sign of the government’s confidence in the project’s completion.

In the meantime, officials are to send Brussels additional information requested regarding the two projects.

Others were less upbeat about Monday’s developments, notably the Onassis Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, which have committed funding to the Panepistimiou Street and Faliro projects respectively. Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis also expressed concern.

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