Greece selling off diplomatic residences

It's not just islands, the Greek foreign ministry is holding a firesale of diplomatic property, reports the Guardian:

On Wednesday, the nation learned the downsizing would also include diplomatic residences abroad – starting with the Victorian townhouse that was once the Greek consul general's residence in London.

"There is a decision to lease and sell properties that for various reasons are not being used," said Gregory Dalevekouras, spokesman at the foreign ministry. The foreign ministry's finance department, he said, was hard at work evaluating "market conditions".[...]

High-end estate agents are already being sounded out to sell the 10,000 square foot consular residence in London's upscale Holland Park – which is currently being renovated. Property experts say homes similar to the 115-year-old stucco-fronted townhouse fetch rents of around £25,000 a week and could sell for as much as £12m. Richard Branson, a neighbour, put his own home on the market for £17m last year.[...]

The sell-off, which will include buildings in Brussels and Belgrade, Rome and Nicosia, is part of a privatisation campaign that may well be the most ambitious ever conducted on the continent of Europe

The former residence of the Greek royal family is also up for sale. 

Earlier this year, Washingtonian oggled some of the premium diplomatic property owned by struggling European countries in D.C. I remember back when we used to shake our heads at failed states doing this kind of thing. 


An all-Europe army?

A report produced by a group of 11 E.U. foreign ministers this week on the future of Europe focused, understandably, on how greater integration - or "more Europe" - could help resolve the ongoing debt crises, through greater oversight of member states' budgets, centralized bank supervision, etc.

But further down, the 8-page document also lays out a plan for how more federalism could boost the region's overall global clout -- and includes the possibility of a Pan-European Army.

"To make the EU into a real actor on the global scene we believe that we should in the long term... aim for a European Defence Policy with joint efforts regarding the defence industry (e.g. the creation of a single market for armament projects); for some members of the Group this could eventually involve a European army."

The report makes clear that an all-Europe fighting force is only supported by some of the countries who helped produce the document; however, it also argues for a policy of more majority voting on security and foreign policy questions, meaning single states would no longer be able to veto defense policies they aren't in favor of. Alongside the European Army proposal, the report calls for an overall strengthening of the European External Action Service, the E.U.'s foreign policy arm.

The document has the backing of foreign ministers from Germany and France, as well as Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and other major European actors, but not Britain, where news of the report has met with some alarm.  The UK has opposed greater European military integration in the past, and the Daily Telegraph speculates that the new report could fuel current calls for a referendum on the E.U.

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