After decades of delays, Greece is picking up efforts to develop former military barracks across the country that have been vacated due to reforms in the defence sector.
Crisis-hit municipalities are eyeing the military units in a bid to increase green spaces on their patch but complain that the Defence Ministry is asking for too much to hand over the property in a procedure that is heavily bogged down in red tape.
In the last few days, several meetings took place in Athens and Thessaloniki among top government and municipal officials on former army space in Chania, Crete, and Greece’s second largest city.
Council officials in Thessaloniki are in the process of cleaning up and fencing off the Kodra barracks, while recording all dwellings on site. Talks are also focusing on what to do with the Karatasou and Ziaka barracks in a bid to increase the recreational areas the city offers.
“Thessaloniki has the lowest average of green space per resident, a figure that must change and we are working on this direction,” said state minister State Minister Christoforos Vernardakis after meeting with Infrastructure and Transport Minister Christos Spirtzis on the barracks on Tuesday.
“The coordination of many ministries is required and there are many outstanding ownership issues,” he added.
According to some reports, there are 12 military units in the Thessaloniki region that are up for grabs. But results have been slow in coming despite the Greek government initially launching some of these procedures more than sixty years ago.
A number of barracks are in very poor condition, while the army has yet to full withdraw from others, holding up the procedure.
On Monday, Chania mayor Tassos Vamvoukas flew up to Athens to meet with Defence Ministry officials on taking over the Markopoulos unit – a procedure that started in 1952, according to one municipal official.
Vamvoukas isaid that talks were progressing well but refrained from giving any further information.