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Greece Moves to Raze Unlawful Buildings on Mykonos, Santorini

August 24, 2020

ATHENS – With successive Greek governments unable to stop unlawful construction on the mainland, partially blamed for massive deaths in fires that swept the seaside village of Mati in 2018, the Environment Ministry said it will demolish unlicensed buildings on the popular islands of Mykonos and Santorini.

There are thousands of unlawful buildings across the country and almost nothing has been done to stop them or raze them as the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA said it would do after the fires, quickly abandoning the idea.

Now the New Democracy is the latest to say it will try to stop the phenomenon and show that violations that were almost always tolerated won't be anymore, especially on islands that are a major draw for tourists.

The government said it would raze buildings constructed without a license, which has been said before but not carried out but didn't say if it would stop any further attempts to build unlawfully.

Deputy Environment Minister Dimitris Economou told Kathimerini the inspections will be carried out using “satellite photos and the multitude of complaints” which, he said, will allow authorities to identify the permits that have been issued illegally and buildings that violate zoning rules.

The permits will be revoked (and) the buildings will be demolished,” he promised but didn't say why it took so long. Bids will be taken by the end of the year to draft urban development plans for the islands that in the summer are overrun with visitors.

For Santorini, studies are also being drafted for a new port and the creation of a waste management facility, the report said.

While Mykonos was still a draw this year – wild parties there were blamed for making the island a COVID-19 hot spot – Santorini, once ranked the world's most popular island, didn't see the usual hordes, people too afraid to travel even to Greece for vacations.

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