City center report gets a hearty welcome

A report commissioned by the Citizens’ Protection Ministry that contains more than 70 proposals for the regeneration of the crime-ridden historic center was discussed yesterday during a Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister George Papandreou and welcomed by local authority officials and businessmen. Among the top-ranking proposals in the report are the identification and breakup of criminal gangs operating in the area, the protection of vulnerable social groups, including the homeless, and the relocation of Organization Against Drugs (OKANA) rehabilitation units for drug addicts away from the city center. The report also fleshes out earlier proposals for the creation of a cross-ministerial coordinating committee to oversee the implementation of the proposed measures as well as a special police force to be mobilized exclusively for the historic center. Commenting yesterday, Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis conveyed clear satisfaction that recommendations made over the past few months by City Hall were repeated in the report. «I am pleased that, after many months, the prime minister is dealing with the problem that exists in Athens’s historic center and has adopted all of the City of Athens’s proposals in full,» Kaklamanis said in a written statement. The report was also welcomed by the Athens Traders’ Association, whose members have long been lobbying for a cleanup of the center where drug dealing, prostitution and illegal trade have been thriving for years. In a statement, the association welcomed the development as a positive «albeit delayed» advancement.