Big fat Greek garage sale: Everything must go as Greece sells its treasures

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 26 2012 12:47 p.m. MDT

The palace building is seen at the former royal estate in Tatoi, on the north western outskirts of Athens, Tuesday, June 12, 2007. Tatoi palace, the royal family's historic estate at the foot of Mount Parnitha, will be sold off to help raise money for Greece to meet its obligations.

Thanassis Stavrakis, Associated Press

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Want to buy the Greek consul's mansion in London? Maybe the old palace of the deposed king? How much do we hear for a few Greek islands?

Doesn't interest you?

How about a Greek marina or an airport? Forget adopting a highway, how about buying one? If you can't win a lottery, perhaps you would like to buy an interest in a Greek lottery? Would you like to buy the post office?

The Guardian calls it a fire sale: "The sell-off emerged just a day after Athens's finance minister revealed what most Greeks feared but had never been officially told — that with national income projected to fall 25 percent by 2014 their economy is not just shrinking but slipping inexorably into a 1930s-style Depression. And officials are now working frantically to get the mother of all fire sales off the ground."

Another Guardian article says: "Now Greece is making it easier for the rich and famous to fulfill their dreams by preparing to sell, or offering long-term leases on, some of its 6,000 sunkissed islands in a desperate attempt to repay its mountainous debts. … Only 227 Greek islands are populated and the decision to press ahead with potential sales has also been driven by the inability of the state to develop basic infrastructure, or police most of its islands. The hope is that the sale or long-term lease of some islands will attract investment that will generate jobs and taxable income."

In an interview on Marketplace Morning Report about the sale of Greek islands, Nick Malkoutzis, from the Greek newspaper Kathimerini said: "So clearly when it happens at a time when Greece is at such a difficult economic crisis, then there is concern that this may come back to haunt the country in the future. If for instance, if the islands or parts of the mainland even are given to big property developments that will end up destroying the very essence of Greece which is its unspoiled nature, it's sun, it's beaches and so on."

Bloomberg says, "The Greek state is seeking 50 billion euros from state- asset sales by 2020 to meet the conditions of its bailout, half from company-stakes sales and half from real estate. So far it has only brought in about 1.8 billion euros."

This sell-off or privatization of property and so forth is humiliating for many Greeks, The Guardian says, yet it is the cornerstone of Greece's economic policy.

The Guardian also described the pathos of the selling of the old palace: "In what will be surely be sad news for another UK resident, Constantine, the former king of Greece, officials have also let slip that the Tatoi palace, the royal family's historic estate at the foot of Mount Parnitha, will be sold off too. … An array of old Rolls-Royces, and other paraphernalia that once belonged to Constantine before he was forced to flee into exile, can still be glimpsed on its now dilapidated premises."

EMAIL: mdegroote@desnews.com TWITTER: @degroote FACEBOOK: facebook.com/madegroote

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