Hellenikon fights for access to its coastline

Last week hundreds of people from the municipality of Hellenikon and other parts of Attica knocked down metal fencing that had been blocking off public access to the coastline for decades. Of all the beaches along the coast from Piraeus to Sounion, Hellenikon has the largest number of fences, according to the Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE). The ownership status of the beach clubs is unclear and a presidential decree on land use in these areas has not yet been enacted. Hellenikon Mayor Christos Kortzidis chose to vent locals’ outrage by going on a hunger strike. Days earlier, he had been physically attacked after he tried to close an illegal go-cart track on the beach and a neighboring nightclub that had no operation permit. Neighboring municipalities and others further afield showed their solidarity. The TEE and the Athens Bar Association asked for the intervention of Supreme Court prosecutor Giorgos Sanidas. Nowhere along the 80 hectares of coastline within the municipality of Hellenikon is access freely available to the public. «Businesses in the area have been granted permits by the Aghios Cosmas National Youth Sports Center,» Kortzidis told Kathimerini. That is, the Greek state itself is leasing the land. Questions were raised in Parliament by deputies from all political parties. Deputy Economy and Finance Minister Petros Doukas replied that the General Secretariat of Sports (to which Aghios Cosmas belongs) may not grant state land to private interests but at the same time declared he was unable to intervene because the area had been granted to the Culture Ministry and the land’s status could not be reviewed.

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