The Βill for the Hellenic Seashore

The Βill for the Hellenic Seashore

Maria Karamanof

President of the Chamber for Environment and Sustainability, Councilor of State


On behalf of the Greek Network ‘Seashore Zero Hour’, I would like to welcome you and thank you for coming.

We have invited you here today in order to share with you our deepest concern regarding the fate of our country’s most valuable natural, cultural, aesthetic and social resource: the coastline and the seashore.

Unless we do something about it and do it at once, the fate of this resource is sealed and it is destined to be destroyed for ever, for present on further generation.

The Greek Government has introduced a Βill, shortly to be voted in Parliament and our purpose today is to inform you about its content and consequences and explain why it has met with such unanimous nationwide opposition.

In short, as you already know, the Greek government has undertaken an effort to find the necessary funds in order to meet the requirements of the Memorandum and to deal with the payment of the national debt.

Among other measures it has chosen to alienate itself, through sales, concessions, long term leasing etc, from the most valuable parts of our national public land, including forests, ecosystems, aesthetic landscapes, small islands, and the coastal zone. 

In other words, it treats all public property, regardless of the specific nature and characteristics of each land plot and the public goals it is destined to serve, as “real estate for sale and exploitation”. Moreover, in order to attract investors, the Government has adopted a series of legislative measures which alleviate the standard environmental licensing process and the existing Spatial and Town Planning restrictions adopted in the past for the sake of environmental protection and preservation. 

In this context, the first step has been to found TAIPED (Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund), a Private Company to which the government gradually transfers the ownership of all public land. The Fund’s purpose is to sell out as soon as possible, in order to acquire funds which will be used strictly for the payment of the national debt.

The final step in this process is the present Bill. Since most of the property that investors are interested in is situated by the sea, the Bill, if passed, will allow for uses and various forms of development on the coastline and seashore, which have so far been strictly prohibited by the rulings of the Council Of State (Supreme Administrative Court of Greece), as being contrary to the Principles of Sustainable Development, the Article 24 of the Hellenic Constitution, as well as various International Treaties and Conventions for the protection of landscape, biodiversity and the maritime environment.


Namely, the Bill:

Allows big economic interests and business enterprises to develop and build on beaches and the seashore

Effectively limits free access to beaches by the public,

Irreparably destroys the landscape, the environment and archeological sites, 

Permits the concession of lakes, seas, islets and reefs

Permits the reclaiming of land from the sea for the purposes of tourism investment,

Legalizes illegally built constructions on the beach

Destroys every prospect for economic recovery and sustainable growth

And thereby, destroys every prospect for the economic recovery of the country through sustainable development


The Bill has met with strong opposition and has been withdrawn before the elections, but only temporarily.

The Hellenic Network “Seashore Zero Hour” has been formed by citizens and scientific, environmental cultural and social organizations, beyond and above political parties, in order to inform, mobilize and ensure that the principles of sustainable development will be respected as the legal limit of all governmental and private policies and actions: a limit that cannot be overstepped no matter what, especially when the stakes are so high, namely the loss of our natural and cultural heritage.

The seashore and coastline is our national symbol, the source of inspiration for art, science and literature throughout the centuries and, even economically speaking, it is our most valuable comparative advantage. It has been a gift bestowed to us by nature and good luck and it is our duty to protect it from harm and to preserve it intact for our citizens and visitors to enjoy freely, without restrictions.

Is it our duty to leave it alone and undisturbed, so that it may best serve its inherent purpose: just to be there.