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Greek Culture Ministry Rents its Properties for Peanuts While Paying Rent for its Offices

plakaThe Greek Culture Ministry owns a number of buildings in Athens, but due to mismanagement, ends up paying rent to house its offices, while renting its own properties for as low as 15 euros per month.
The Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) has sold four out of the 12 properties in the area of Plaka that are up for sale and belong to the Culture Ministry. However, the properties’ sale exposed cases where former Ministry employees bought the houses at very low prices, according to a report from Greek newspaper “Kathimerini.” Furthermore, the above properties were never advertised by HRDAF. It should be noted that real estate prices in Plaka, at the foothill of Acropolis, are extremely high.
The establishment of the Archaeological Land Registry revealed several similar cases, not only in Athens but also in other areas, where real estate property prices are high. The island of Rhodes is an example where the Culture Ministry acted as if they did not know the value of their property, as most of it was encroached, abused, put in arbitrary use or remained unused. At the same time, in 2012, the Ministry paid 1.8 million euros in rent to house its disparate offices and agencies.
The report said that many Culture Ministry properties are closed-off, some are on the verge of collapse due to neglect, while others are used by the homeless as shelter. The state has given a number of these buildings to unions or Ministry employees to use.
Other cases are more extreme, such as the ancient theater of Milos that is registered as of “unknown owner,” while the ancient theater in Mytilini appeared not expropriated, contrary to what was happening to the surrounding property.
The registry revealed abuses and ambiguities in administrative estate acquisition procedures. One of these cases involved 10 properties in Monte Smith in Rhodes. In Pythagorion, Samos, land was expropriated by the Ministry for archaeological reasons; however, 20 years later, the Ministry expropriated another plot next to it, overlapping part of the former. And then a third plot that overlapped the second.
Red tape is responsible for several state-owned properties in Plaka and Anafiotika (on the Acropolis slope) that the Archaeological Land Registry shows that are rented for 100, 50 or even 15 euros per month.
According to the report, the Culture Ministry is the richest Ministry in Greece and, until recently, they didn’t even know it. The official lists of former Public Real Estate Corporation had 2,345 properties on record belonging to the Culture Ministry. After the establishment of the Archaeological Land Registry, they found that they had 7,500 properties.
In Plaka alone, the Ministry owns 113 buildings and 103 pieces of land, and another 40 buildings in Anafiotika. It also owns 355 buildings in the medieval city of Rhodes.

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