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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 23 April, 2014

Taking advice from the Germans? Greece ready to sell off uninhabited islands

The Greek prime minister has told Le Monde that the beleaguered country is ready to sell some islands – something that two German MPs told them to do two years ago.

Private Greek island for sale, population: You?
Private Greek island for sale, population: You?
Image: Wolfgang Staudt via Flickr/Creative Commons

THE PRIME MINISTER of Greece has made a surprise announcement to Le Monde newspaper: that his country is ready to put some of its uninhabited islands up for sale.

According to the French publication today, PM Antonis Samaris makes the admission in a lengthy interview – a synopsis of it can be viewed on Le Monde’s website. In the introduction, the reporter Alain Salles notes that Greece hopes to accelerate the privatisation (of some State assets) and is ready to give up uninhabited islands (underlined in red):

via LeMonde.fr

It’s part of Samaras’s plan to try and pull Greece back from the brink of total meltdown as it tried to meet the terms of its bailout agreement.

German MPs told Greece to sell the islands two years ago – this is what they said then:

What is most interesting about this revelation – apart from the speculation about what wealthy individual might be the new owner of a private Mediterranean island or two – is the fact that this idea was mooted to Greece two years ago… by the Germans.

In 2010, two German members of parliament told the German newspaper Bild that “The Greek state must sell stakes in companies and also assets such as, for example, unpopulated islands.”

At the time, George Papandreou was prime minister and in the midst of talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel about Greece’s dire economic situation. His deputy foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas told German TV station ARD TV at that time that they wouldn’t consider such a suggestion.

When The Guardian newspaper published a story claiming that the Greek government had in fact started to put up some islands for sale in June 2010 to boost its coffers, the Greek government sent out a spokesperson to emphatically deny this was the case. One private island was for sale – but “has been on the market for a long time” and was a private sale. The spokesperson wrote:

The far-fetched suggestion that Greece would consider selling off islands “driven by the inability of the state to develop basic infrastructure, or police most of its islands” is both incorrect and offensive. Last but not least, Greece did not receive a “bailout” from the EU and IMF, but a loan, which will be repaid in full.

Two years on, and it appears that the new Greek government has done a U-turn on the uninhabited islands issue. Then again, no-one is taking issue with the word ‘bailout’ anymore either…

Want to buy one of the islands?

The national Greek tourism organisation states that there are 6,000 islands and islets in the Greek archipelago. Of these, only 227 are inhabited which means that the rest are potentially up for grabs. (Be warned – some are only tiny outcrops of rock so choose your deserted paradise carefully).

If you have a few million euro burning a hole in your pocket and you can’t wait for the Greek government to officially put the islands up for auction, privateislandsonline.com already has a private uninhabited Greek island up for sale. It covers an area of 170 acres, has two natural ports, two natural beaches, forests and fields. The good news is that it’s a fixer-upper: the advertisement goes as following:

All the necessary paperwork and a building license are available. One can build about 185,000 squared metres depending on the use of the land. There is a power supply about 25m from shore. Water supply is available.

It’s in the Ionian Sea, one of five islands in the Echinades complex. The site goes on to say that it is offering two other Greek islands for sale near the Scorpios island owned by “Greek tycoon Ari Onassis”. There goes the neighbourhood, eh Ari?

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