Split within SYRIZA over Hellinikon Investment Widens

Prominent politicians within SYRIZA are expressing serious concerns or outright opposition to the planned investment of Hellinikon, contradicting official government policy.

Last week, Alexis Tsipras and SYRIZA have come out in favor of the stalled investment at the former airport of Athens, but a number of members express their opposition to the development of the site, citing environmental and archaeological concerns.

On Thursday, at a meeting chaired by party leader Alexis Tsipras, SYRIZA gave “full support for the completion of all necessary actions relating to the initiation of the Hellinikon investment, with full respect of the law and the foreseen procedures.”

In terms of possible antiquities on site, which the Central Archaeological Council (KAS) needs to assess, the political council expressed support for KAS’ right to an opinion and the need for necessary procedural decisions to be made as fast as possible, so that the realization of the investment is not jeopardized.”

The party also said it was “determined to support every necessary government initiative” that will set the investment process in motion and “will contribute to establishing a climate of investor confidence and to the acceleration of the Greek economy’s revival.”

This unequivocal support for the development of Hellinikon met with instant opposition from within the ruling party.

Interior Minister Panos Skourletis spoke in favour of investments, “but with rules that apply to everyone”.

Addressing parliament, he stressed that the archaeologists “were fighting a battle to defend the country”.

“In this country with its great traditions and a culture that is a living and enduring asset, we must protect national heritage and not try to flout the legal framework for political ends,” Skourletis said.

MP and former Education Minister, Nikos Filis, followed suit demanding that the law with respect to antiquities be respected.

“The investment must proceed with respect to the requirements of the archaeological law,” he said.

On Saturday another prominent MP, Giorgos Kyritsis, went a step further saying that SYRIZA never wanted the investment but it is forced to proceed given the commitments previous governments made to the investors and Greece’s creditors.

“We have to implement it, what else can we do? But we will implement it on the basis of law”, Kyritsis said.