MUST WATCH – Vatopedi – The Whole Story Part III

 The Vatopedi monastery was implicated in a real estate scandal by PASOK in 2008 in the framework of what we later learned was to defame and tarnish the image of the former conservative government of Costas Karamanlis. Summarizing the evidence submitted, it is obvious that the issue was completely absurd and ridiculous and till this day is STILL considered a scandal by many. The third episode of this series which is broadcasted on SKAI channel examines the issue of the ownership of Lake Vistonida. The ownership as you will see in the video with the correct documentation was and once again is undisputed. On September 7, 2011 a Wikileaks cable was released which confirms all this information and proved without a doubt that the issue of Vatopedi was used as a “tool” to kill the popularity of the conservative government of Karamanlis and shake the confidence that Greeks had in the Greek Orthodox Church. Remember what Kissinger said about hitting our religion, our culture, etc? Here is a small sample of what that particular cable said: 

“The scandal involving land exchanges between  Vatopedi Monastery and the Greek government (reftels) has led to  the resignation of two high-profile ministers and shaken public  confidence in the Greek Orthodox Church. The GoG and Vatopedi  have tried to limit damage by proposing measures to reverse the  transactions. On November 7, a northern Greek court invalidated  the most controversial land swap, involving Lake Vistonida in  Thrace, on the grounds that the lake and environs are protected  public property. Vatopedi claims it has Byzantine era titles  proving ownership of the lake property and is threatening to  challenge the court’s decision in the European Court of Justice. The Church has sought to portray the scandal as isolated to  Vatopedi but is concerned the fallout could affect other  monasteries and patriarchates with similar ancient land  holdings. Public criticism of the affair could claim other  political victims and is likely to drag on for the foreseeable  future. END SUMMARY. 


(SBU) The GoG and Vatopedi Monastery of Mt. Athos are  struggling to contain a major scandal (refs A-C) involving  lucrative land exchanges that, according to some media, may have  benefited GoG officials. According to media and post’s contacts  from Mt. Athos (the semi-autonomous northern Greek peninsula  administered by Orthodox monasteries, including Vatopedi), in  2005-2007 Vatopedi traded some of its Byzantine-era land  holdings for public land, mostly in northern Greece. The most  controversial property traded by Vatopedi was some 7000 acres in  the area of Lake Vistonida in Thrace. As reported in ref C,  senior Prosecutor of the Supreme Court Giorgos Sanidas contends  that in that trade, the GoG gave Vatopedi public land worth over  Euro 100 million more than the Lake Vistonida property. Media  speculate that Vatopedi planned to sell the public land and give  some of the profits to GoG officials.

(SBU) Under heavy criticism from local residents and the  media, Vatopedi offered on October 17 to reverse the land deal  (return GoG land or proceeds in exchange for Lake Vistonida and  other property claimed by Vatopedi). The GoG also took steps to  cancel the transaction, including by revoking all ministerial  decisions acknowledging ownership of Lake Vistonida by the  monastery. In accordance with a Supreme Court prosecutor’s  September 15 order, the GoG took steps to freeze Vatopedi’s land  holdings and proceeds from land sales. In addition, two  high-profile GoG ministers with alleged links to the scandal  resigned (refs A and B), and Parliament began a fact-finding  investigation into the affair on November 3.   GREEK COURT INVALIDATES DEAL, VATOPEDI MAY APPEAL TO HIGHER  AUTHORITY

(SBU) On November 7, a Rhodopi (northeastern Greece) first  instance court ruled that Lake Vistonida and most of the 7000  acres of surrounding land claimed by Vatopedi is  non-transferable public property (e.g. national park land).  According to the court, Vatopedi possesses rights to only 430  acres of the 7,000 it claims. The decision in effect ignores  Vatopedi’s Byzantine era land titles to the lake property and  invalidates the land exchange with the GoG. The court reached  the same decision in 2003 but withheld it due to a last minute  out of court settlement between the GoG and Vatopedi. The  Supreme Court ruled on October 24 that the 2003 decision should  have been issued.

Vatopedi abbot Efrem has threatened to defend  the monastery’s ownership claims in the European Court of  Justice if necessary. Vatopedi bases its claims to numerous  properties in addition to Lake Vistonida on Byzantine and  Ottoman era decrees. Media and opposition politicians have  questioned the validity of these ancient documents, but the  Rhodopi court and Supreme Court have yet to comment explicitly  on the issue

Check out full cable here

Video Source SKAI – Click here if you have trouble viewing video. If you have not viewed part one then click here. For part two click here.

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