State will fight EU over register funds

Two days after a senior European Union official warned that Brussels would seek the return of a substantial part of funds contributed to Greece’s ill-starred land register project, the minister responsible for the multi-billion-drachma undertaking said Athens would fight such a development in court. Environment, Town Planning, and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis insisted that the results of regional policy commissioner Michel Barnier’s meetings on Friday with top government officials in Athens were positive. Barnier criticized Greece for spending twice as much money as initially budgeted on only a quarter of the work promised, and said that future funding would be subject to close scrutiny. Yesterday, Laliotis said that should the EU ask for some of the money back, we believe the European Court will find in our favor. The minister also said he would present court authorities today with evidence of the umbilical cord linking prosecutors with the main opposition New Democracy party. This followed the filing of corruption and fraud charges last Friday against officials involved in the land register project. Laliotis said he could prove that ND deputies announced in advance and dictated the acts of prosecutor Giorgos Gerakis. Simitis said that there was no cause for particular concern and, certainly, no cause for fear, among Greek citizens.

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