Tension prevails for another day in Expirationas crews try to start work on the metro station that will be built in the area and the residents are reacting.
Sure it is not at all certain that those who are reacting are really residents of Exarchiasince the protagonists of the reactions are members of the extra-parliamentary left, Petros Constantinou from Antarsia in the neighborhoods and members of SYRIZA such as Mr. Iliopoulos.
The protests now are (supposedly) about the trees being cut down, but of course this is a sham. The protest concerns the Metro station which the “collectives” consider will change the “libertarian” character of the area. Quite simply, they don’t want a Metro in Exarchia. Moreover, as George Kyritsis of SYRIZA had previously written, the government hates the Exarchia and wants to destroy them. (There’s reasonable suspicion that Metro’s engineering design wasn’t done with Exarcha hatred in mind, but let’s get past that.)
Does the protest about the trees make any sense?
You don’t need to be an expert environmentalist to realize that even if the trees are never transplanted – which is not the case – the gain for the environment from the creation of a Metro line and the thousands of cars that will not have to move, is infinitely greater than the profit that the atmosphere of Athens has from a dozen or so trees.
It is therefore obvious that the object of the protest is not the trees, but the operation of the Metro itself. Moreover, when the station is ready, it will be covered with trees and a garden – as far as the conditions allow – while, if the fate of a dozen or so trees that will be cut down is such a serious issue, they can and will be transplanted elsewhere.
(To see how hypocritical the call for cutting down the trees is, the contract with the Metro company provides for the transplanting of 123 trees out of a total of 161 that exist – such a forest… – and additional planting in other places of another 2,000 trees. And also the planting of trees on the ground station overhang, when the work will be completed.)
In short, various “communities” want Exarchia to remain the slum district and consider that the operation of the Metro – which will connect the neighborhood with the rest of Athens – will be a blow to the character of the district. So simple. The question is whether Haris Doukas, the elected Mayor of Athens, agrees with those who are reacting. But we will see that later
Who reacts to the subway in Exarchia?
In the construction of the Metro in Exarchia, they are of course reacting, apart from the extra-parliamentary left that expresses the neighborhood ruffians, and SYRIZA, which, apart from the fact that it wants to maintain its electoral influence among the young public, also has in its DNA the predisposition to participate in spontaneous “revolts”especially when the target is the state of the Right and the (still) Mayor Bakoyannis.
The question, of course, is what business Haris Doukas has with them who also reacts to the Metro in Exarchia citing various pretexts, that allegedly more consultation is needed and that there are also alternatives for the location of the station.
As if the operation of the city of Athens and the location of the Metro – which concerns 4 million residents of the Basin – can be the result of the consultation with a dozen or so alleged residents of Exarchia.
It is noted apropos that protests about the location of the Metro station had taken place in the past in other “recalcitrant municipalities”, such as Agia Paraskevi, who are now begging the Attiko Metro to build a station in their neighborhood, but technical difficulties do not allow it. And now they are complaining because the Metro doesn’t go to their own neighborhood…
Is there room to create the station elsewhere?
One of the arguments of the SYRIZA executives participating in the residents’ reactions is that there is space for the Metro station at the point where Tositsa and Bouboulinas meet. But it’s a lie.
It should be noted here that although the SYRIZA executives are now protesting about the station in Exarcheion square, the auction of the project was done under Alexis Tsipras and the location of the station as well. Is there room in Tositsa?
No is the answer. As Panagiotis Tournikiotis, the Dean of Architecture of NTUA, told Lifo, the creation of the station at the junction of Tositsa and Bouboulina had already been rejected in 2018 and had been deemed prohibitive. Due to the shape of the tunnel and the dense urban fabric.
The attitude of Haris Doukas and his statements
Among the oddities of the case, which is a mini-rebellion of the insubordinate liberating left in the modernization projects of the city of Athens, is the attitude of Haris Doukas. Mr. Doukas, although he declares that he is willing to give way to cars on Vasilissis Olgas Avenue, which will prospectively join with the archaeological walk and the park of Zapeio, he declares that he is adamant about cutting down the trees in Exarcheion Square.
In fact, he seems to ignore the provision of the contract for the transplanting of the trees– assuming it’s that important…- and mentions various big mouths about trees being cut down and taking away the breath of life.
A possible explanation of Haris Doukas’ attitude is his willingness to oppose the outgoing municipal authority and position himself politically. Besides, he comes from PASOK and probably has other ambitions beyond the mayoral post, after his great victory over Kostas Bakoyannis. He possibly wants to present the profile of the Mayor who consults and does not impose solutions.
Or maybe his attitude is a consequence of the position he took before the elections, when he was trying to attract the anti-government electorate and he kept his distance from the Metro in Exarchia and now he is trapped.
The statement of Harry Doukas:
“Another achievement of the outgoing municipal authority.
Since the morning, trees have been cut down in Exarchion Square. Our position is clear. No lost tree and consultation even now, at the last moment.
It is not possible for an environmental and philanthropic project like the Metro to be the subject of heated debate.
We call on the contractor company to immediately stop the cutting operations and present the comprehensive plan for tree transplants and their sustainability.
Every tree cut down takes away breaths of life. Human life is above any construction no matter how important it is.”
Responding to Haris Doukas, Pavlos Marinakis stated that the government will not back down on a central policy issue, accused the elected Mayor of Athens of not showing a spirit of cooperation and said of the reactions that they are “revolutionary gymnastics”.
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