Mayor wants city ral­lies reg­u­lated

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The time is riper than ever for re­forms reg­u­lat­ing demon­stra­tions in the city cen­ter, Athens Mayor Gior­gos Kami­nis told a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee in­ves­ti­gat­ing the prob­lem of bur­geon­ing il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion in the cap­i­tal yes­ter­day.

Fol­low­ing a string of protests over the past week, some of them vi­o­lent, Kami­nis said he had started draft­ing a bill that would im­pose some re­stric­tions on pub­lic protests. “If we want to live in a demo­cratic so­ci­ety, we have to reg­u­late it, for the ben­e­fit of the demon­stra­tors but also for cit­i­zens, who have the right to free­dom of move­ment, and for busi­nesses, which should not be harmed by the con­stant oc­cu­pa­tion of roads and side­walks,” Kami­nis said.

The mayor said the grow­ing pop­u­la­tion of un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants in cen­tral Athens was a key rea­son for the re­cent up­heaval, adding that a cen­sus is to be car­ried out to give authorities an idea of the size of the mi­grant pop­u­la­tion.

Ini­tia­tives her­alded by Kami­nis and Prime Min­is­ter Ge­orge Pa­pan­dreou on Mon­day fore­see the in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion of polic­ing in the city cen­ter and in­cen­tives for peo­ple to live in down­town Athens. The lat­ter will chiefly com­prise tax breaks for peo­ple will­ing to re­lo­cate to ar­eas such as Ker­ameikos and Me­tax­ourgeio.

Pa­pan­dreou on Mon­day em­pha­sized the im­por­tance of these ini­tia­tives be­ing launched as soon as pos­si­ble, not­ing that “Athens will sink if it is gripped by vi­o­lence.” Speak­ing to Kathimerini yes­ter­day, Attica Gov­er­nor Yian­nis Sgouros struck a sim­i­lar tone, call­ing for “spe­cific mea­sures that can be im­ple­mented with­out de­lay.” A good idea, Sgouros said, would be to “ren­o­vate derelict build­ings in the cen­ter to house lo­cal au­thor­ity of­fices.”

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