Europa Nostra urges national and European authorities to protect Greece’s coastline

The leading European heritage organisation Europa Nostra has expressed its grave concern over some provisions of a draft law which, if adopted and implemented, would put Greece’s coastal environment and heritage under serious threat. In individual letters addressed to the Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and the European Commission’s President José Manuel Barroso, Europa Nostra, together with its Greek member organisations led by Elliniki Etairia – Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage, warned of the anticipated negative impact of the proposed legislation and called for a sustainable socioeconomic development for the region.

Photo: Island of Patmos, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, Andrea Moroni

Photo: Island of Patmos, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, Andrea Moroni

“The draft law recently submitted to the Hellenic Parliament, under the title ‘Boundary marking, management and protection of the coastline and shores’, contains dangerous provisions, such as the possibility of legalization of existing illegal constructions on the coastline and the shore by entrepreneurs; the abolition of all restrictions on the grant of the coastline for private commercial use; and the exclusion from any protective measures of the banks of many large lakes and drivers. There is an evident neglect of a whole range of national and European legislation, each of which insist on the protection of the coastal zone,” states Denis de Kergorlay, Executive President of Europa Nostra.

‘Economic development can be neither healthy nor sustainable in the absence of necessary safeguarding and the enhancement of our environment and our cultural heritage, a fact demonstrated so vividly by the disastrous boom-and-bust experience in Spain in the last decade. This is even truer for Greece because the natural beauty and cultural wealth of the country are two of its principal and most valuable economic and social assets,” he adds.

In the letter sent to Antonio Samaras, the Executive President of Europa Nostra urges the Greek Prime Minister to intervene in order to introduce substantial amendments to the draft law, with particular emphasis to protecting the Greek coastline, the islands and the islands communities. “We firmly believe that your intervention to alter the proposed legislation would constitute a major benefit for Greece’s economic, environmental and social development”, highlights Denis de Kergorlay.

A similar appeal is made in the letter delivered to President Barroso, which was also signed by Europa Nostra’s Vice-President Costa Carras. “We wish to urge you – and through you the European Commission – to use your vital influence for ensuring a development of economy, and especially tourism in Greece, which would be sustainable, and not a development with short-term economic gains which are contrary to the principles and policies promoted by the European Union.”

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