Three of eight eateries that have operated illegally in a protected national park since 1999 have been bulldozed by regional authorities, following warnings of legal action by the European Court of Justice.
The demolition of the eight tavernas located near the sea in the Schinias-Marathon National Park northeast of Athens, was first ordered in 1999. However, they continued to operate until 2014, despite rulings confirming their illegal status by various courts and the Council of State, as well as numerous interventions by General Inspector of Public Administration Leandros Rakintzis.
In the summer of 2014 the Environment Ministry granted the tavernas an additional six months to operate under a law granting illegal buildings immunity from demolition in exchange for a fee, while the Municipality of Marathon further extended their lease of life until the end of 2015 after the expiration of the six-month period in February.
As Kathimerini revealed on October 25, the European Commission has warned Greece that action will be taken unless the tavernas are demolished, as they are in violation of community regulations for the protection of natural habitats. The park is part of the Natura 2000 network.
The demolition of the first three structures began in early December and was completed on Friday. The Environment Ministry is scheduling the demolition of the remaining five tavernas and has notified the municipal authority not to renew their operating licenses.
“We have no problem with the taverna owners. We just want to implement the law and the ruling of the Council of State,” said Haris Kambezidis, head of the Schinias-Marathon National Park management authority. “The demolition of these tavernas is one of the main topics in the file opened against this country by the European Commission.”