An article in the UK-based Guardian has been reprinted internationally, starting the rumour that Greece is actually selling some of its islands, or is offering them for long-term leases by rich individuals. Yesterday, rectification followed.
In early March of 2010, Digital Journal reported on the fact that some members of the German parliament demanded that Greece sell some of its 6,000 islands to stabilize its economy, rather than rely on loans or a bail-out from Germany and other members of the European Union (EU).
This led to a few interesting and funny reports in the both the German and the Greek media, but was soon forgotten when both the EU and the International Monetary Fond (IMF) did take measures to pull Greece out of its cash-flow problem - at least temporarily.
Now, the idea is had returned by way of an article published in the Guardian on Thursday. Among other things, the report claimed that Greece had begun negotiations with China and Russia to sell off parts of Rhodos, that other islands were for sale or offered for long-term lease arrangements, and that even state-owned land on Mykonos was being offered to investors.
Scans of magazine covers
The German FOCUS cover says "Crooks in the Euro-family", to which the Greek MY COUNTRY replied with the words "Our debt, you may take it."
However, the article was either badly researched or meant to be tendentious, and the Greek government came forward to deny all allegations, which it did by way of an article in the Friday edition of the Wall Street Journal. A spokesman for the Greek government, George Petalotis, stated that the Guardian report was "insulting," "untrue" and "inflammatory", and he also demanded from the London-based newspaper to immediately retract their article.
However, before that denial and demand in the Wall Street Journal, the tendentious information from the Guardian had been picked up by many other papers and news outlets in East and West, for example The Intelligence Daily, starting a world-wide rumour that sales of Greek islands had actually begun.
At present, when consulting the Guardian website, the article has gotten a new headline and, at the bottom, the following disclaimer:
This article was amended on 25 June 2010. The original heading - Greece puts its islands up for sale to save economy - went beyond what the story said. This has been corrected. A reference to Natsika has been amended to make clear this sale offer is private. More context has been added to a quotation from Makis Perdikaris, director of Greek Island Properties, to make clear that he was not expressing knowledge of existing Greek government sales of islands or island land.