Government, ND trade barbs over illegal buildings

Government, ND trade barbs over illegal buildings

As local authorities in northern Greece carried out a small-scale demolition in an apparently symbolic move, the main opposition accused the leftist-led government of hypocrisy, pointing to documents suggesting that it put off the demolition of the illegal structures it is now pledging to knock down. 

The demolition of a fence in Halkidiki freed up residents’ access to the sea, according to local authorities. But the move was widely criticized as too little too late. 

Infrastructure Minister Christos Spirtzis hit out at critics. “They should not provoke us,” he said. “We are struggling right now to stand by our fellow citizens.”

In comments that provoked criticism on social media, Spirtzis claimed that the plot of land in Mati, eastern Attica, where 26 people were found dead after last week’s fires, belonged to the relative of a New Democracy cadre.

A day earlier, Alternate Environment Minister Sokratis Famellos had said all properties on that plot were illegal constructions.

Earlier conservative ND had accused the government of putting off the demolition of hundreds of illegally built structures in Attica since it came to power in 2015, presenting Interior Ministry documents ordering “temporary” postponements.

“Under the watch of this government, the execution of irrevocable judicial decisions for the demolition of 1,639 buildings has been postponed for three-and-a-half years,” ND’s shadow environment minister Costas Skrekas said, pointing to Interior Ministry documents.

One of the documents, dated February 17, 2015 and marked “extremely important,” calls for the postponement of the planned demolition of an illegally built property in Perivolakia, near Rafina.

Another, dated October 29 of the same year, calls for the postponement of planned demolitions in forestland in Spata and Artemida.

The submission to Parliament of a bill aimed at accelerating the demolition of hundreds of illegal buildings is part of a “plan to mislead” the Greek public, he said.

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