Illegal privatization party in full swing

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One thing is certain: If a private investor had expressed an interest in developing the coast of Katakolo in Ileia in the Peloponnese, the leftists would have lambasted the “sell-off of public assets,” several deputies would have spoken out against the “rape of Ileia,” the ecologists would have lamented the potential “loss of the beauties of nature,” and the far-right would have discovered “nefarious characters” on the investment company’s board of directors and argued that developing Katakolo would pose a serious risk to national security. Finally, the Council of State would have delivered the final blow by deeming the investment illegal because a cluster of pine trees on the coast characterize it as forestland.

So, while the nation stands guard just in case some odious foreign investor happens to cook up a plan to mar a part of the Greek landscape, our homegrown vultures have succeeded in illegally privatizing almost every corner of the country without paying a cent to the state and without any kind of zoning plan.

According to a report by Kathimerini on July 15, when a team from the state privatization fund visited Ileia to inspect real estate assets there, not only did they fail to find a single hectare of free land, as there ought to have been, but they also found entire settlements on the coast made up of illegal buildings. Out of a total 2,000 hectares of state-owned land, not even 200 hectares can be developed.

This is more or less how the battle against privatizations is being played out in Greece. While the voices of the left cry out against the ghosts of multinational corporations that are apparently lining up outside the Greek border baying to suck us dry, inside the country, the illegal privatization party is in full swing.

Frightened by the “cursed memorandum,” the public in turn is entrapped in a “yea” or “nay” dilemma concerning privatizations, instead of discussing the terms according to which public property will be utilized. As we guard Thermopylae against the neoliberal invader, prime public real estate and state money is being eaten up behind our backs. The land-grabbers are privatizing state-owned properties, the unionists of the Public Power Corporation continue to take their luxurious trips abroad on the state’s tab, university deans take “full advantage” of research grants for their own benefit, doctors commercialize healthcare by selling treatment for bribes, and the list goes on and on.

But, there we stand at Thermopylae, unmoving, shouting “You shall not pass” at potential investors, probably allowing our lot time to complete the job.

ekathimerini.com, Wednesday Jul 18, 2012