New scheme to save city center
Measures aimed at improving safety and the quality of life in central Athens are due to be announced by the government today in the wake of the murder of a 44-year-old man last week that sparked protests and racial tension in this beleaguered part of the capital.
Sources said the measures to be announced are likely to include incentives for people to live in downtown Athens, an idea that Mayor Giorgos Kaminis put forward several months ago; more intensive policing of the city center; and a wider scheme to repatriate immigrants.
The government was forced to act after 44-year-old Manolis Kantaris was stabbed to death on Tritis Septemvriou as he went to get his car so he could take his pregnant wife to the hospital. The incident sparked protests by some residents as well as by the extreme right group Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn), which claimed that migrants were responsible for the attack, for which no- body has been caught. A number of immigrants were attacked in the wake of Kantaris’s murder and a 21year-old Bangladeshi man was stabbed to death in, as yet, undetermined circumstances.
Central Athens has suffered for a number of years from rising crime and lawlessness while the concentration of legal and illegal immigrants in some neighborhoods has led to concern about the creation of ghettos in the heart of the city.
PASOK MP Costas Kartalis, who heads the parliamentary committee that has examined ways of improving life in central Athens, yesterday pleaded with the government to ensure that there is as much normal daily life as possible in downtown areas, where the economic crisis has led to hundreds of stores closing. “Our aim must be to keep businesses and public services in the city center,” said Kartalis. “There could be no bigger mistake than to move public services out of the area.”