ATHENS – After the European Union said two key projects for the city’s capital and shoreline weren’t essential, Greek authorities said they still hope to get the 440 million euros sought for them.
Infrastructure Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis insisted that the development plans for creating a pedestrian mall on Panepistimou Street in the heart of Athens, and for the Faliro area on the coast hadn’t been shelved.
The projects affect plans by the Onassis Foundation in the Panepistimiou Street area and for the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in the Faliro area.
Chrysochoidis said that the plans had only been posted and that the EU didn’t bar them, but had expressed “reservations” and that he was confident they would proceed even though the government has done little to push them.
“The commission has not rejected anything,” Chrysochoidis said, responding to reports over the weekend according to which the EU does not see the pedestrianization of Panepistimiou Street in central Athens and the revamping of the Faliro coastline south of the capital as suitable for EU funding at this point.
Some 440 million euros in EU funding had been earmarked for the projects as part of a 5-billion-euro package of subsidized public works.
Following the EU’s objections, the government was obliged to sign off on the package minus the two programs, Chrysochoidis admitted, Kathimerini said.
But he said studies linked to the projects would proceed and said a tender for the construction of anti-flood works in Faliro was a sign of the government’s confidence in the project’s completion.
The Niarchos Foundation had complained the government was failing to push the works and Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis said little has been done to help the downtown project either.