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Greek former minister suggests Acropolis be leased

Updated: 2012-01-10 15:14
( Xinhua)

ATHENS - Greek former deputy health minister Gerasimos Giakoumatos suggested on Monday that Acropolis and other archaeological sites across Greece be leased to tackle the debt crisis that threatens the country with bankruptcy.

"We should lease Acropolis and other sites to raise revenues with dignity instead of cutting pensions and wages," Giakoumatos said in an interview with a local radio station.

Giakoumatos also called for an end to anti-austerity strikes staged repeatedly by Culture Ministry employees over the past year that have blocked thousands of tourists from visiting the sacred hill and other antiquities.

It is humiliating when visitors from China, Finland or Ecuador arrive in Athens to find the Parthenon closed due to strikes, he said.

Acropolis and archaeological sites nationwide have been closed due to labor union mobilizations over unpaid salaries for overtime work every weekend over the past month, including Christmas and New Year's Eve, leaving thousands of visitors disappointed.

Representatives of the tourism industry have complained over the protests that have caused losses for the sector that accounts for about 18 percent of Greek GDP.

However, Giakoumatos's comment soon triggered criticism of media and ordinary Greeks alike which denounced his idea as shocking, unbelievable and offensive.