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Chaos in the property of the Ministry of Culture

25 February 2013 / 17:02:02  GRReporter
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More than 21 thousand archaeological sites, more than 7,500 public buildings, more than 4 thousand plots, over 12 thousand archaeological monuments and 8 thousand new properties are only part of the property owned by the Ministry of Culture of Greece. Their exact number remains unclear since after more than 10 years, the government has not created a cadastre of the archaeological sites. A large number of the buildings of the Ministry are abandoned, casual people have been living illegally in them and many archaeological sites have been illegally built.

The decision to provide a detailed description of all the properties owned by the Ministry of Culture was taken back in 2000. Experts note that the mess in the Ministry of Culture is a miniature of the chaos reigning in the public sector, which is indicative of the poor management of the public property by the central government. Making an inventory of these sites, systemizing and classifying them began in 2011. The project budget exceeds seven million euro and it should be completed by 2015 at the end of the cycle of the funding from the national framework for structural development (EMPA).

Much of the uncertainty regarding the ownership and the description of the property is related to the manner of acquisition. Part of the heritage of the Ministry has been acquired through expropriation against compensation. Others have been purchased and the third group of properties have been donated. According to the data presented in To Vima newspaper, the state spent almost 400 million euro for the acquisition of 1,640 properties in different areas in the period 1990-2009. There are cases of returning the expropriated archaeological property for which compensation was paid to the private owners as stated by people familiar with the situation. These violations will continue to exist until the state obtains an accurate picture of what archaeological sites and properties it owns, how it has acquired them and how it can exploit them.

The historical Plaka area beneath the Acropolis is full of smaller and larger properties with archaeological value, which have been donated to the Ministry but are used as business premises or are abandoned and decaying. A person familiar with the situation estimates that properties, which have no archaeological value but are owned by the Ministry, have been acquired mainly through donations and their use is also inefficient. Some of them were sold to fill in the revenue budget of the institution and others are used as warehouses or are rented.

The inventory of the state cadastre at the Ministry of Finance has registered 2,345 sites across the country in the past year and a half while the expropriations and property directorate reports 7,500 sites. 20% are in the cities of Greece and 80% are in the countryside and on the islands. Part of the public property has been set for the construction of public museums that will be incorporated into the cultural routes of travel agents. Another part of the property described so far consists of residential properties that are used for operational purposes and to store smaller artefacts that have been found mostly during excavations.

According to figures published in the press, the number of plots with archaeological finds in the country is four thousand and a total area of nine thousand square metres has premises containing publicly accessible artefacts. Another 100 sites with a total area of ​​100 thousand square kilometres are under the special protection of the state, excluding the Sporades marine park with an area of ​​1,500 square kilometres. 12 thousand is the number of ancient monuments, buildings, plots and underwater areas that date as far back as before 1830. The number of new monuments is over 8 thousand. The total area of ​​the property managed by the Ministry exceeds 100 thousand acres, and the commercial properties have an area of ​​330 thousand square metres. The area of the buildings that house the public museums in Greece reaches 90 thousand square metres.

The state paid around 70 million euro in the period 1980-2000 to acquire 130 properties with and without historical value in the area of ​​Plaka alone. However, this is the area with the highest number of violations, illegal occupation of buildings and decaying property. At the same time, the administrative and storage facilities of the Ministry of Culture are scattered in over 17 different buildings, for which the state pays an annual rent of three million euro.

Tags: SocietyMinistry of CultureGreeceHistorical sitesCrisisChaos
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