Greek gov’t racing for Elliniko project


Seeking to counter accusations that the planned real estate investment at the former site of the capital’s airport in Elliniko is being undermined by ideologues within ruling SYRIZA, the leftist party’s political council issued a statement Thursday expressing its “full support” for the project.

On Wednesday, the country’s Central Archaeological Council (KAS) postponed the discussion about whether part of a plot at Elliniko should be declared of archaeological interest for a third time, until next Tuesday, prompting fresh concern that the investment could be left high and dry.

The latest postponement triggered a hail of opposition criticism over the government’s commitment to big investment projects, and fueled charges that the leftist-led coalition is bowing to the anti-privatization mantra of ideological purists within the party, despite repeated claims by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that his government is pursuing investment-friendly policies. New Democracy spokesman Vassilis Kikilias accused the government of being “hostile to any kind of investment.”

SYRIZA sought to dismiss the charge Thursday, saying that it backs “all the necessary steps related to the launch of the investment with full respect for the law and the foreseen procedures.” Sources said Thursday the government could bypass KAS to get the project up and running.

Members of the party’s political council also sought to stress the nonbinding nature of the recommendation KAS will make. According to a party official, KAS will provide a framework but “from then on, the government will decide how the relevant procedures will move ahead.”

However, New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Thursday that if Tsipras means what he says about his commitment to the investment, “even on a rudimentary level,” then he should sack the Culture Ministry’s general secretary, Maria Andreadaki-Vlazaki. The ministry has been accused of wanting to declare the site at Elliniko an archaeological site.