Government eyes detour in controversial Elliniko sale


The government is reportedly prepared to take the matter of the stalled Elliniko investment to the Council of State, the country’s highest legal body, if the Central Archaeological Council (KAS) decides to raise obstacles to the project by declaring a part of the plot in question to be of archaeological interest.

KAS, the country’s top advisory body on the protection of antiquities, failed again last week – for a third time – to reach a decision on whether to approve the project, and its 17-member committee will reconvene Saturday.

But the repeated delays that have held up the real estate development on the site of the old airport in southern Athens have punched holes in the leftist-led coalition’s pro-investment narrative.

In order to break the deadlock, sources say the government will – rather than oppose KAS directly if it doesn’t give its approval – resort to the Council of State, whose previous rulings, it believes, have shown a pro-investment slant. Moreover, according to legal experts, the court will move quickly and issue a ruling by the end of the year at the latest.

The zest with which the administration of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has ostensibly embraced the Elliniko investment is a marked turnaround from the very recent past when it was accused of tolerating if not abetting delays in order to placate party purists who are opposed to the project on ideological grounds.

Tellingly, SYRIZA lawmaker Giorgos Kyritsis told Real FM radio on Saturday the party still has objections to the project, but has no choice but to back it as it “was signed by the previous [governments] and entered as a term in the memorandum.”

Apart from damaging its pro-investment narrative, sources say that Tsipras fears the investment’s failure could create a negative climate ahead of the Eurogroup and the third review of the country’s current bailout. Any delays in the conclusion of the review will no doubt disrupt the government’s roadmap to access international markets next year.