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Wanna buy a Greek island?

In 2010, when two right-wing German MPs suggested that Greece should sell off some of its islands to finance its debt, Greece’s government was not amused. "Suggestions like this are not appropriate at this time," responded the country’s deputy prime minister. Evidently, with the Greek government behind on its EU-imposed revenue-raising targets, current Prime Minister ...

Oli Scarff/Getty Images
Oli Scarff/Getty Images

In 2010, when two right-wing German MPs suggested that Greece should sell off some of its islands to finance its debt, Greece's government was not amused. "Suggestions like this are not appropriate at this time," responded the country's deputy prime minister. Evidently, with the Greek government behind on its EU-imposed revenue-raising targets, current Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is coming around to the idea. 

From Businessweek:

He told Le Monde newspaper in an interview published today that uninhabited Greek islands could be used to generate revenue, responding to a question on whether Greece would sell some of its islands.

In 2010, when two right-wing German MPs suggested that Greece should sell off some of its islands to finance its debt, Greece’s government was not amused. "Suggestions like this are not appropriate at this time," responded the country’s deputy prime minister. Evidently, with the Greek government behind on its EU-imposed revenue-raising targets, current Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is coming around to the idea. 

From Businessweek:

He told Le Monde newspaper in an interview published today that uninhabited Greek islands could be used to generate revenue, responding to a question on whether Greece would sell some of its islands.

“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.”

To be clear, this would be a case of selling of public lands for private development, not transferring national sovereignty of the territory, as has also been less-seriously suggested. But it still seems like a pretty significant sign of desperation. 

This isn’t the only island sale making news this week. The New York Times reports on the Hawaiian island of Lanai’s recent sale from eccentric juice tycoon David Murdock to Oracle’s Larry Ellison:

Mr. Ellison now owns the gas station, the car rental agency and the supermarket. He owns the Lanai City Grille, the Hotel Lanai, the two Four Seasons resorts, two championship golf courses, about 500 cottages and luxury homes, a solar farm, and nearly every single one of the small shops and cafes that line Lanai City. He owns 88,000 acres of overgrown pineapple fields and arid, boulder-strewn hills, thick with red dust, as well as 50 miles of beaches. 

No one’s quite clear on Ellison’s intentions for the island, though Murdock has maintained the rights to pursue a controversial plan to build windmills that would generate electricity to be sold to nearby Oahu. One resident described the island as being under a “medieval lord-of-the-manor system of control.”

Could high-seas neomedievalism take root in the Aegean?

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy  Twitter: @joshuakeating

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