Completion of the metro in Thessaloniki has been delayed due to a series of lawsuits backed by the opposition Syriza party.
The action is dedicated to the antiquities found at the site of the Eleftherios Venizelos metro station. The fate of the project is at stake: will the antiquities remain in place and have to be built around them, or they will be temporarily moved and later returned to their original location. And although on the basis of decisions of the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, the builders of the project have already begun the relocation process, opponents of this step are making procedural motions that must be considered by the high court.
In December 2020, the Council of State rejected a petition against the decision of the Central Archaeological Council of Greece, which agreed with the position of the Metro to temporarily remove the authorities. In response, their opponents filed a petition against the adoption of the Council’s decision by the Minister of Culture – this case will be considered in court on December 8. Another statement on the ban on the export of antiquities will be considered on January 22.
The project’s Attica Metro is currently considering suing those responsible for this legitimate sabotage, given that continued delays would be costly and would further curtail EU funding to support the project.
The forces behind this lawsuit are the Civil Movement for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, the Association of Archaeologists, the Greek Society for Environment and Culture, and the Christian Archaeological Society. They have invested heavily in an awareness campaign on the destruction of heritage, which they believe will entail the temporary relocation of antiquities. But the campaign has not received much response from ordinary citizens, who do not see problems with the temporary movement of artifacts.
The reason is that residents of the northern capital are tired of chronic delays in the construction of the metro. Realizing that you can endlessly argue about antiquities in a city choked with traffic congestion, but you need to live now.
Owners of businesses directly affected by construction delays have many problems. “35 years since the construction of the metro began, I see a metal fence in front of my store. It is killing me, ”complains the owner of the outlet on Egnatia Street.
“It is clear that the unrestricted selection of some of the lawsuits reflects their aim to thwart the completion of the metro, cause new intolerable delays and finally challenge the project itself,” says a joint statement signed by the Central Macedonia region, the regional union of municipalities in Central Macedonia, the municipality of Thessaloniki, the local professional chamber, the Chamber of Commerce, the Technical Chamber of Greece, as well as the Department of Central Macedonia and the Association of Traders.
For their part, opponents of the project and their supporters in the SYRIZA party declare their disinterested concern for antiquities and reject accusations of opposing the construction of the metro.
We recently wrote about the Elliniko project, which, due to the actions of similar services, was suspended for an indefinite period, since investors, who are ready to invest almost 10 billion euros in the project, refused to invest due to the exorbitant demands of the same organizations that are slowing down the construction of meters in Thessaloniki. And even the fact that the authorities were able to push through the decision to build, no longer helped to dispel the skepticism of investors.