Businesses, Athens mayor call on government to curb lawlessness

Businesses, Athens mayor call on government to curb lawlessness

In the wake of a spate of vandalism and crime in central Athens, representatives of the business community and the capital’s mayor on Thursday called on the government to take action. 

“The state must eventually do its job,” said Constantinos Michalos, president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“Democracy is not threatened by the existence of rules but by their absence or their constant violation,” he said.

In a similar vein, Vassilis Korkidis, the president of the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE), called for the protection for businesses. “The state must finally, instead of just taking from businesspeople, defend them and their efforts and offer them basic protection,” Korkidis said.

The vandalism of stores on Ermou Street, the heart of the capital’s commercial and tourist district, late on Tuesday was among a series of acts by self-styled anarchists purporting to express solidarity with Constantinos Giagtzoglou, a 29-year-old terrorist suspect who was recently transferred from the capital’s maximum-security Korydallos Prison to a penitentiary in Larissa, central Greece.

During a visit to Ermou on Thursday, conservative New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis accused the government of “tolerating lawlessness” and leaving businesses and people unprotected. 

Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis suggested that Public Order Minister Nikos Toskas was not doing his job properly and called on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to intervene. “The situation has spiralled out of control,” he said. 

Toskas suggested that the Greek Police (ELAS), which he oversees, was to blame. During a visit to ELAS’s headquarters, Toskas told officers that he was “not happy” with their handling of recent incidents, pointing to “repeated mistakes and indifference.” 

There was a third day of attacks by self-styled anarchists on Thursday, in most cases declaring solidarity with Giagtzoglou who is on hunger strike, demanding his transfer back to Korydallos. 

Thursday’s attacks included the vandalism of leftist SYRIZA’s offices in the Athens neighborhood of Kaisariani, where earlier this week a hand grenade was hurled at a police station.

A group calling itself Armed Revolutionary Struggles claimed responsibility for the attack, confirming that it had intended to express solidarity with Giagtzoglou.

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