Council Wants Piraeus Declared Archaeological Site, Projects Stopped

N. Ikonio, Perama, Piraeus. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Georgia Panagopoulou, file)

After a shipping ministry blocked the $580 million renovation of the port of Piraeus by COSCO, the Chinese company which operates it, the Central Archaeological Council (KAS) wants the entire city and surrounding areas designated as sites of “archaeological interest,” which would shut down all major construction.

Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras earlier reneged on vows to stop privatization and agreed to let COSCO acquire a major share of the port but company officials are unhappy the ministry has effectively ceased work to turn the port into a higher-end use of a shopping mall, a ship-repair yard and a new logistics hub.

A KAS meeting to discuss whether to put the archaeological tag on Piraeus – as it did for a while for the long-stalled $8 billion Hellenikon project – was postponed after furious criticism over the leaked idea, the business newspaper Naftemporiki said.

Instead, after the port authority’s management also objected, KAS members said the council needs more time to consider the drastic step of declaring one of the country’s most heavily-industrialized area of archaeological interest, which would mean stricter building license regulations and land uses.

There was no explanation why a port and industrial area was also an archaeological site or what finds could be there to make it designated so and local officials were also upset, fearing the archaeological interest tag would severely restrict building and uses.