Dubious methods

Outrage greeted the government’s decision to resolve the serious issues concerning the «setting of environmental standards, the declaration of compulsory expropriations, and the settlement of the remaining issues concerning the implementation of the Olympic Marathon project» by means of a huge, many-page legislative act. Resorting to this essentially arbitrary procedure that treads a fine line between legality and illegality does poor service to the organization of the 2004 Olympic Games. One can, of course, understand the time pressure which, moreover, is the result of government tardiness and delays and which is now being used as an excuse for sidelining parliamentary procedures. But one cannot possibly ignore that this edict, on the one hand, opens the way for arbitrary acts at the citizens’ expense and, on the other, facilitates the assignment of billions’ worth of projects in a dubious, non-transparent fashion. Why should citizens, for example, consent to the expropriation of huge stretches of land for the construction of projects which have been long heralded in a manner which is at odds with the code for the compulsory expropriation of real estate? How can the public be sure that there will be no attempt to hide economic irregularities when the above legislative act includes specific contracts, many of which exceed the 10-billion-drachma threshold? Kathimerini has, from the very beginning, expressed its reservations over the nation’s hosting of the Games, for it was aware of the complications that such a venture would involve – and not just the economic ones. These complications will now come down thick and fast. Already, the government, resorting to methods such as the above legislative motion, is even dragging President Costis Stephanopoulos down an obscure political path since, although he made public his discontent, he was finally forced to sign the edict so as not to cause a constitutional crisis over an issue that would tarnish Greece’s image internationally. In any case, the government ought to complete the Olympics-related projects. This, however, does not mean that the public will accept their materialization in the absence of transparency measures, which raises serious issues – not merely political ones.