Paradise for sale: Bankrupt Greece sells islands, palaces to stay afloat

Mandraki Marina, Rhodes town - the location of the famed Colossus of Rhodes and now for sale
Mandraki Marina, Rhodes town – the location of the famed Colossus of Rhodes and now for sale

Last week the Greek finance minister completed tortuous negotiations with the European Union to secure the latest $10billion tranche of bailout funding the country needs to stay afloat.

But the money has come at a massive, possibly irreversible, price in terms of culture and pride.

One of the main conditions that the European Union  – mainly driven by demands of its most powerful nation, Germany – has imposed on Greece in return for the cash is a huge program of privatization.

The Greek government is in the process of selling off 70,000 lots of state assets – everything from ancient palaces, to stretches of coastline, to the state gambling company to entire idyllic islands, are up for grabs to the highest bidder.

The gorgeous island of Rhodes is unusual in that more than a third of its land is government owned – and is now being sold.

The world famous Mandraki Marina in Rhodes town – the location legend has it, of the Colossus of Rhodes – is among the land for sale.

Other stretches of the Rhodes coast – mile after mile of pristine beach on the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea – are also up for grabs. They include a large tranche of land ear the resort at Afandou, popular with hundreds of thousands of tourists each year.

The peninsula of Prasinisi, one of the best wind surfing venues in Europe is also among the lots.

Elsewhere in Greece the royal palace where Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain was born, will be sold. The billionaire emir of Qatar has just finalized the purchase of six Greek islands and a Russian oligarch bought the island of Skorpios for $100m, as a birthday present for his daughter.

The sell-off has caused fury among sections of the Greek public and its opposition parties, who say more private-public partnerships should have been entered in to, to prevent the loss of so much of Greece’s territory and ancient culture.

But in Rhodes, local politicians say the deal to sell off the land is inevitable, given the parlous state of Greek national finances. They said they’d be working to ensure the best possible economic and cultural outcome for the island.

Greece’s economy has been severely damaged by the financial crisis, the collapse of a property bubble, what northern European economists say is the country’s relaxed attitude towards paying and collecting taxes, and a bloated public sector.

Unemployment runs at more than 25 per cent and is double that among the under 25s in some parts of the country. Salaries have been slashed and the Greek government forced to deliver a package of austerity measures by the so-called Troika of the European Union.

In effect Greek national finances are being dictated by bankers from Brussels, with the influence of the German government detected and resented by many in Greece. Public demonstrations across the country recently have featured images of German Chancellor Angela Merkel portrayed as the new Adolf Hitler – a reference to the German occupation of parts of Greece during World War 2.

Factfile

The Greek government was forced, as part of the bailout conditions, to cut nearly $10bn from public spending in 2013

Another condition was a fire sale of assets worth $50 billion to reduce Greek’s debt pile

Greek public sector pay rose 50 per cent from 1997-2010

The government also ran up debts paying for the 2004 Olympics

 


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

PHOTOS: Who is Alix Tichelman?

Who is Alix Tichelman, the high end call girl who allegedly murdered a Google executive?

National

Washington state approves first producer of pot edibles

  A Seattle-based company that makes marijuana-infused drinks and candies has become the first business in Washington approved to make edible pot products for the…

National

Florida cat owners call 911 after Russian blue…

By Barbara ListonORLANDO Florida (Reuters) - Kush the cat was quarantined in central Florida after her owner called 911 over the weekend for help, saying…

Local

Times Square costumed characters under scrutiny

Costumed characters in Times Square are under scrutiny after a string of incidents involving Elmo, Woody, Mario and Spider-Man.

Going Out

What to do this week in NYC: July…

Le Fooding Beach Club Presents: San Pellegrino Fruitstock at the Rockaways Friday-Sunday, Noon; $40 Beach 97 97-01 Shorefront Pkwy., Rockaway Beach Picnic on the beach…

Going Out

Where to eat on Bastille Day in NYC

We had ours on the Fourth of July, now it’s time for France’s equivalent on July 14. Go out and show your solidarity with the…

Books

What to eat while you read

A smudge of chocolate on a page never hurt anyone.

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, July 9: 'The Bridge,'…

See Diane Kruger solve some mysteries in the second season premiere of "The Bridge."

World Cup

Argentina prevails in penalties, advances to final

The drama never seems to subside as the World Cup finally has its final two.

MLB

A Joffrey Ballet dancer threw the most beautiful…

http://youtu.be/Hg61JOZJrYM?t=29s While asked to throw a first pitch at a baseball game can be a treacherous and/or embarrassing experience (see Cent, 50), sometimes everything can…

World Cup

World Cup semifinals preview: Holland vs. Argentina

The second semifinal pits another South American soccer power against a European one.

MLB

MLB power rankings: Athletics cement spot on top,…

The Athletics cement spot on top of our MLB power rankings with a huge trade, while L.A. teams follow.

Travel

Amsterdam is known for sex and drugs, but…

Amsterdam is arguably best known for its red light district and cannabis coffee shops, but the city on the banks of the Amstel River is…

Wellbeing

What eye symptoms need emergency attention?

Many people experience temporary eye-related problems such as pink eye (conjunctivitis) from a cold virus or a scratched cornea resulting from an object coming into…

Wellbeing

Sugar isn't making anyone's life more sweet

Not so sweet. Anne Alexander, author of “The Sugar Smart Diet,” tells us where sugar is hiding and how it’s making us sick. Bet that…

Wellbeing

This will take more years off your life…

  Obesity can cut life short by causing strokes and other illnesses, but a new study quantifies the toll: The most extreme cases cut a…