A relevant culture minister on Thursday defended her ministry’s handling of licensing and review procedures for a massive property development at the southeast Athens coastal site of Helleniko, saying 30 hectares declared as entailing an “archaeological interest” do not prevent future construction.
Minister Lidia Koniordou, a theater actress by profession, responded in Parliament to a tabled question by an opposition deputy, who pointed to statements by a consortium that won a concession for the site, namely, that the leftist-rightist government has unilaterally changed terms for whatever archaeological sites on the set-for-development land. Democratic Alignment MP Odysseas Konstantopoulos also repeated criticism by Lamda Development that a culture ministry-affiliated archaeological council expressed opposition to the height of six skyscrapers cited in a master plan.
Democratic Alignment is the successor formation to one-time dominant socialist PASOK party.
Koniordou merely responded that a unanimous decision by members of the Central Archaeological Council (KAS) was based on a recommendation with the smallest portion of affected land included, and with tracts of land that aren’t included in the consortium’s construction plans.
She also said the environment ministry has final jurisdiction over the height of proposed structures, while nevertheless admitting that “potential (terms by KAS) were placed, but ones that aren’t binding”.
The Tsipras government has faced intense criticism, including negative scrutiny by creditors, over repeated bureaucratic hurdles, red tape and legal challenges that continue to plague the massive privatization, itself a memorandum-mandated “prior action”.