Greek Prime Minister to German tabloid newspaper Bild.
Berlin, Germany.- Greece will not sell any of its Mediterranean islands to reduce its debts because they are part of the nation’s cultural heritage and important for tourism, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said on Thursday. Responding to a lengthy campaign by the popular German tabloid newspaper Bild for Athens to consider selling some of its many islands, Papandreou told the paper in an interview that the Greek islands were not for sale.
“Anything like that is ruled out,” Papandreou told Bild, when asked about selling islands. “You’ve simply got to understand how important these islands are for Greece and Greek history. We’ve spent enormous sums in defense budgets to secure the islands near the Turkish coast.”
Bild, Germany’s best-selling paper, has been campaigning for almost a year for Greece to consider selling islands as a way to reduce its debt mountain. Opinion polls show Germans overwhelmingly oppose taxpayers bailing out Greece and other euro zone countries with huge debts.
“The islands are our cultural heritage, and they’re also cherished by German tourists. If we were to sell our islands to a few super-rich people, they’d be closed off for everyone after that,” Papandreou said.
“We want to develop this unique natural landscape carefully and ecologically — that will bring far more,” he said.
Papandreou said he understood why Germans were unhappy about euro zone rescue packages and thanked Germans for their part in the rescues.
He also pointed out that Greece had received loans, not handouts. “These are loans and we’re paying interest on them, they’re not gifts,” Papandreou said. “And we didn’t want the loans so that we would leave everything the way it was — but rather to win time for necessary changes.
“But I understand some of the annoyance in Germany. I can only say thanks to them.”