Government Accused of ‘Misleading’ Greeks as First Illegal Structure Demolished

As Greek authorities demolished a wall blocking access to the sea in their drive against illegal structures, Greece’s main opposition has produced documents that apparently show that ministers consistently blocked demolitions of illegal structures.

The government has failed to carry out thousands of demolitions ordered by courts on its watch, main opposition New Democracy’s shadow environment minister Constantinos Skrekas said on Thursday.

“There are now 1,639 irrevocable demolition orders by courts that could have been executed in the last three and a half years and were not,” he said in a comment on the crackdown on illegal building announced by the government.

“They are trying to pin the blame on past planning violations when [Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras] was not in power and cannot be held responsible but the reality is entirely different,” Skrekas said.

He noted that a ministerial decision issued just days after the first SYRIZA-ANEL government came to power in 2015 had postponed the demolition of an illegal building in Rafina while a decision by a minister on October 19, 2015 asked for the entire program for demolitions to be suspended in Spata.

The controversy follows the first demolition of an illegal structure in Halkidiki, northern Greece, hundreds of miles away from the scene of the catastrophe in Mati.

Α bulldozer demolished part of the wall ruled illegal five years ago, after local residents complained that it blocked their access to the sea.

The Greek government has vowed to begin work to crack down on illegal construction, which experts said made the Mati fire even worse.

According to plans, 3,185 illegal constructions, built in forests and along the coastline of Attica, are to be demolished.

Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said on Tuesday that the government is prepared to clash with interests and demolish illegally built homes to prevent future catastrophes.


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