Greek national treasures up for sale
THINGS have gone from bad to worse i n debt- ridden Greece, where the economy has failed to bounce back after the 2009 Eurozone crisis, despite several bailouts from the EU and the IMF. The g overnment has now embarked on a “fire sale” of its national assets to raise capital for the ailing economy, and virtually everything, it seems, must go. Items up for sale include royal palaces, islands, ski resorts, airports, portions of Greece’s coast and state- owned companies. One of the prize lots on the market is the Tatoi Palace, the former summer residence of the Greek royal family, located 27 km from the Acropolis in Athens. More than one third of all the land on the island of Rhodes is government-owned, nearly all of which is now under the hammer, including the historic Mandraki Marina, the Prasonisi peninsula, which is a popular windsurfing spot among visitors, and large stretches of unspoiled beach in Afandou. More than 70,000 Greek assets are up for grabs, both in Greece and abroad, with properties in Belgrade, Rome, Brussels, Nicosia and the Slovenian capital Ljubljana for sale. The former Greek consul’s residence in London was sold last month. The 115-year-old Victorian townhouse in Holland Park was sold to an unknown buyer for GBP 23.3 million (US $35.5 million). While many Greeks oppose the sell- off of national assets, some of which have significant cultural importance, the government is assuring people that many plots will only be available for long-term lease, and that prospective owners will be selected based on the merit of their development plans. The Greek government has little choice but to pursue the aggressive sale of its assets, since privatisation is part of the terms it must meet in order to secure its next EU bailout package, which will provide an additional EUR 8.8 billion ($11.6 billion).