Alt-Coin Trader

Greece should sell islands to keep bankruptcy at bay

Phillip Inman and Helena Smith

Greece must consider a fire sale of land, historic buildings and art works to cut its debts, two rightwing German politicians said today in a newspaper interview that is bound to exacerbate tensions between Athens and Berlin.
Alongside austerity measures such as cuts to public sector pay and a freeze on state pensions, why not sell a few uninhabited islands or ancient artefacts, asked Josef Schlarmann, a senior member of Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, and Frank Schaeffler, a finance policy expert in the Free Democrats.
The Acropolis and the Parthenon could also fall under the hammer, along with temptingly idyllic Aegean islands still under state ownership, in a rush to keep bankruptcy at bay.
"Those in insolvency have to sell everything they have to pay their creditors," Schlarmann told Bild newspaper. "Greece owns buildings, companies and uninhabited islands, which could all be used for debt redemption."
Only yesterday the ruling socialist government in Greecepublished its third attempt to reduce the country's debts and please EU governments, which have pledged to support the beleaguered economy if austerity measures are enacted.
Strikes and street protests have already threatened to bring many industries and public services to a standstill if the cuts go ahead.
But Germans remain unmoved by the troubles facing Greece. Opinion polls show Germans are overwhelmingly against a Berlin-funded bailout. Greece's deficit was 12.7% of national income in 2009, well ahead of the EU's 3% limit.
Merkel will meet the Greek prime minister, George Papandreou, in Berlin on Friday.