The Greek state is sending the public the wrong message about illicit building activity

Apart from the destruction of one of the most ecologically important forests in the prefecture of Corinth, said Kalliris, another negative repercussion of this issue is that people are getting the message that the state is not in control. Meanwhile, land-grabbers are being encouraged to destroy even more forests when they see the state cancel out its own laws and realize that no one takes any real resort to the justice system. Many Greeks, he said, dream of having a house between a pine forest and the sea. At present dozens of court cases are pending as regards the Vamvakies area and 11 homes have been scheduled for demolition. Kalliris entertains no illusions that this will actually happen. As one Public Power Corporation official replied in writing, «I am sorry, but the settlements are a fait accompli.» He simply wants to prevent more from being built. The Peloponnese regional authorities revealed as recently as 2006 that the forest granted to Korasidis in 1962 for resin collection was not being used for that purpose. In what was an unprecedented decision for the region, it restored ownership to the state. However, the private houses will remain. The state has appointed a former prefect to remove the demolition crews. The current Corinth prefect said on Skai Television’s «New Files» program that he saw no reason to demolish illegally built homes when he knew that there would be some law that legalized them. It was the regional authorities that decided to remove Kalliris from his post as forestry director in 2004, transferring him to another bureau. He makes no secret of his bitterness. «I don’t think of it as a demotion. It is not important to be a forestry director on paper or by title. What is important is to be one in your mind, in enforcing the laws. I believe that the state has its own reasons. In a way we are soldiers and will serve wherever we are sent. In my view, I have served well and am still doing so.» Whatever the reasons for his transfer, the message sent to the public is the wrong one. «If, for some reason, the state wants to have settlements in the forests, it will. But when it says it is protecting the forests and orders the forestry director to demolish these homes and do his job properly, then he must. The question is how far the state protects that official. I don’t know if that will ever happen in Greece.»