The culture ministry and Rhodes authorities are at loggerheads over a decision by the former to initially declare the area of Afantou as an archaeological site despite official plans to create a golf course there and then to release a statement saying the investment can proceed as planned.
The Greek-American investor Merkourios Angeliades who first expressed interest in the property in 1993, told local media that he was disappointed with the decision and added that should the ministry “revise their decision and invite me to sign, I will not do so. They should understand that investors are not fools to take what is given to them. An investment of this size can in no way involve any entanglement with the archeology department.”
In the meantime, the ministry said the investment project will go ahead as planned, adding that declaring a site of archaeological significance in no way implies a ban on construction, but instead means the Archaeological Service will monitor works.
Mr Angeliades says he has already spent more than 1 million euros on studies and deposited a guarantee of 2 million euros. “I can in no way accept that for an investment of 400 million euros such issues are arising, especially after we bid for the property in a competition and now they tell us that it is an archeological site. If the case is not settled, I will demand the return of my deposited guarantee and go to court with compensation claims against the Greek government.”
In the meantime, South Aegean Prefect George Hatzimarkos was quick to express his exasperation stressing that the development of the Afantou golf course has been on the back-burner for decades and is about to be “blown up in the air shortly before entering the implementation phase”.
“This is an extremely negative development. It is shocking to see with how much thoughtlessness decisions have been made, without even the slightest understanding of the implications for Rhodes and for Greece,” he said.