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Society

Reneging on Vows to Raze Unlawful Buildings, SYRIZA Will Legalize Them

December 9, 2018

ATHENS – Breaking a promise to immediately raze thousands of unlawful buildings in the wake of the July 23 wildfires that killed 99 people in the seaside village of Mati where illegal construction blocked access to the sea, the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA wants to legalize them in an apparent bid to keep voters with an election year looming.

A draft bill sent to Parliament that the government controls with seven votes from its coalition partner, the pro-austerity, marginal, jingoistic Independent Greeks of Defense Minister Panos Kammenos – who blamed unlawful buildings in Mati for the death toll – would give owners of unlawful buildings the right to use them for 40 years but not transfer ownership.

Instead of being forced to leave and having their buildings demolished, owners of unlawful structures in forested lands instead can get away with keeping them by paying a 200 euro ($227.65 fine), the business newspaper Naftemporiki said.

Previous governments have done the same so as not to lose voters although unlawful buildings were also blamed the deaths in floods in towns outside Athens where they blocked gullies and water run-offs and as the state wants to bring in money despite the environmental damage.

The unlawful structures and homes range from tiny cottages to villas on the sea built wherever people can seize the land, including state properties, and are allowed to do so without consequence apart from paying fines or bribing officials.

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