Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras is in a race against time on the Hellinikon urban development project, one of Greece's biggest investments in decades, after archaeologists failed to approve it in a meeting late Wednesday.
Most members of the Culture Ministry's Central Archaeological Committee (CAS) oppose the eight billion euro project, citing a failure to protect archaeological sites, and agreed to meet again on Tuesday for a final decision. CAS officials believe that the government's agreement with Hellinikon investors, led by Lamda Development, is illegal, according to a statement they issued earlier this week.
The latest delay from CAS drew a strongly worded response from the prime minister's office, with officials saying they will give time for the public administration to do its job but won't put up with intentional delays.
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The outcome for the project is looking bleaker and bleaker.
What started off with a small faction of the ruling left wing Syriza party resisting the deal, has now snowballed into an anti Hellinikon movement that threatens to end it completely.
In a bid to overcome this inner party opposition and its far reaching influence in government departments , Tsipras is expected to meet with the Syriza Political Secretariat in coming days. But even if he overcomes this problem, he will then have to deal with opposition from the forestry service that says the project breaks the rules.
Any fresh delays, or even failure of the project to go ahead, will be a major embarrassment for Tsipras, who has publicly backed the investment, as the country struggles to draw foreign investors.
The Lamda led investor consortium includes China’s Fosun group and Eagle Hills from the United Arab Emirates.