Looking with increasing urge to find new ways to reinvest money, the wealthy elites, helped by the hand of the state, are using privatization of communal and public land, especially in the cities, to increase profits and shape the urban space according to their own interests. At the same time, voices against the commercialization of public space and the dispossession of public land are becoming stronger and people are struggling for their right to decide about the space they live in. Similar conflicts between the interests of the few, on the one side, and local communities on the other emerge in several cities around the world.
The aim of this project is to bring together politicians, activists, academics and journalists from Athens, Madrid, Nantes, Istanbul, and Berlin, to exchange different experiences and discuss strategies and ways to face processes of grabbing of public land. Secondly, it is our aim to look in a wide perspective at the common aspects and general causes of the privatization of land and public spaces affecting us. Our goal will be to build up collective theoretical tools, to formulate common demands and to develop alternative policies for urban development, so as to be better armed when reclaiming our cities and land, when struggling for land as a common.
Starting point and triggering situation for the project is the planned privatization of Hellinikon in Athens. The property of Hellinikon, a 620 Ha site which includes the former international airport and the Aghios Kosmas beachfront, is on the top of the privatization program that is currently underway in Greece by the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF). According to the call for tenders, the property of Hellinikon will be transferred to private investors for the next 99 years, for the development of shopping malls, tourist resorts, office buildings, golf resorts, casino, residences, etc., creating thus an enclave of wealth and luxury for the selected few. In stark contrast to the government’s and HRADF’s plan lies the timely demand posed by the local governments, the academic community, local movements and political parties, for the development of a public metropolitan park on site; a park that will meet the needs of the community for recreation, sports and culture, and improve the environment and climate conditions of the Athens metropolitan area.
On Friday, April 4th 2014, the international guests, accompanied by local politicians and activists, will visit the site of Hellinikon and exchange experiences.
On Saturday, April 5th 2014, we will be happy to welcome you and discuss with you, in a public event titled:
Struggles for an alternative use of public land – Experiences from abroad
In the “Mikis Theodorakis” Cultural and Conference Centre of Argyroupoli (68 Kyprou Av., Argyroupoli, Athens)
Welcome and introduction: Christos Kortzidis, Mayor of Hellinikon-Argyroupoli
Kıvanç Eliaçık (Turkey), Director of International Relations Department Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK)
Carlos Escudero (Spain), Member of the Initiative “Plataforma Eurovegas no”
Harald Gindra (Germany), Municipal councilor, Tempelhof-Schoneberg, DIE LINKE, Berlin
Jean-François Pélissier (France), Regional councilor Île-de-France, Vice chairman of group Front de Gauche, Parti de Gauche & Alternatifs
Nikos Belavilas, Assistant Professor at the National Technical University of Athens
A project of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung (Brussels Office, Office in Greece) in cooperation with the Municipality of Hellinikon-Argyroupoli.
The event is open to the public. There will be simultaneous translation.