Greece has been in the news for the last few months for all the wrong reasons. Its economy is at the brink of collapse and the government is under increasing pressure to raise funds from national assets. With this in mind, Greece is looking to selling off the rights to turn some of the 6,000 uninhabited islands into tourist resorts. But before you go rushing to your wallet, you should know that Greece is seeking to raise at least 50 billion euros from sales by 2020. This is in order to meet the conditions of its bailout, and half will come from company-stakes sales and half from real estate. So far Greece has only managed to raise about 1.8 billion euros. So you would need a few million euros to have any chance of buying one of these islands. The Prime Minister of Greece, Antonis Samaras, has so far been reluctant to sell off these national assets, asking for more time, but it appears that in the last few weeks he has come around to the idea. He told Le Monde that he was considering the sale, “On condition that it doesn’t pose a national security problem, some of the isles could be used commercially,” Samaras said as quoted by the newspaper. “It would not be a case of getting rid of the isles, but of transforming unused terrain into capital that can generate revenue, for a fair price.”
Samaras has been in talks with the Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who is heading up the group of euro-area finance ministers, and with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the French President Francois Hollande, in an effort to pull back Greece from economic collapse. It is thought that the proposition of selling the islands was first mooted to the previous PM George Papandreou in 2010, who vehemently opposed the sales, and said in 2011 that he would personally see through legislation that would prohibit such a sell off. Selling off the rights to owning public land has always been a sensitive issue in Greek history as in 1996, Greece and Turkey almost went to war over who owned the uninhabited islet of Imia in the Aegean.
Back to the present day and it does seem that the selling off of these islands will go ahead, with or without public approval. Juncker told reporters that, “The state asset sales process must be re-launched. I do not ignore that this privatization process is swimming in difficult waters given the fact that the rumors of the exit of Greece from the euro area are spread around day after day.”
So if you are a millionaire and are interested in buying one of the islands, here’s what you need to know. The Greek sovereign land includes 6,000 islands and islets scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Seas, of which only 227 islands are inhabited. This leaves potentially some 5,773 up for grabs. Be warned however, as some of these islands are merely a rock sticking out of the Aegean. Although some feature beaches stretching over many kilometers, sheltered bays and coves, sandy beaches with sand-dunes, pebble beaches, coastal caves with steep rocks and dark colored sand typical of volcanic soil and coastal wetlands. A great opportunity to cash in on a country’s dire economic circumstance or a Greek tragedy? I guess it depends on how much money you have.