Vatopedi land deal defended

After days of adopting a conciliatory approach, the Mount Athos monastery involved in a controversial land deal with the government went on the attack yesterday, saying that it had done nothing wrong and is only willing to return public property if it is given real estate of equal value. The Vatopedi Monastery issued a statement saying it had not taken part in «any illegal transaction or act,» that the properties exchanged had been chosen by the state and that the state-appointed evaluators had also set the value of the land. «Monks do not have interests, do not represent the interests of others, nor do they have any personal fortunes,» it said. The monks have offered to swap the land they were given for other properties of the state’s choosing, as long as they are of equal value. However, the monastery has already sold some buildings and land it obtained in the Olympic Village, which it says it cannot return to the state.

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