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Modern Athens: Migration Processes and Paradigms of Urban Development

Y. D. Kvashnin ()

Outlines of global transformations: politics, economics, law, 2020

Abstract: This article attempts to assess the role of migration processes in the urban development of Athens over an extended period of time – since 1834, when the city became the capital of an independent Greek state, up to this day. The history of modern Athens, which in less than a century has turned from a small regional center into one of the ten largest urban agglomerations in the European Union, is a peculiar case of Mediterranean-type spontaneous urbanization with all its drawbacks, such as illegal construction, excessively high population density and infrastructural problems. At the turn of the 20th century Athens faced a new challenge – the mass inflow of immigrants from the former Yugoslavian countries and Albania, and after Greece entered the Schengen zone – from the countries of North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. During the 2015 migration crisis, Greece became the main gateway for hundreds of thousands of refugees and economic migrants to the European Union. These trends have had a direct impact on the economy and social environment of the Greek capital, reinforcing challenges such as an increase in the number of low-income residents, ethnic segregation by regions and suburbanization – relocation of indigenous people from a dilapidated center to safer and more comfortable suburbs and satellite towns.The need for a transition to more responsible urban planning became apparent in the 1980s, when the first (to be legislated) master plan was adopted, which determined the development strategy for the manufacturing sector, transport system, land use and housing market policies. A serious incentive for the implementation of infrastructure projects – partially funded by EU structural funds – was the holding of the 2004 Olympic Games. In 2014, against the backdrop of a debt crisis and economic recession, the city administration adopted Athens Resilience Strategy for 2030, which takes into account such chronic problems as infrastructure degradation, irregular migration, as well as poor management at the regional and prefectural levels. Presently, due to the lack of necessary financial resources, a decisive role in improving the urban environment is assigned to the private sector. Thus, municipal authorities contribute to the gentrification of the central regions of Athens, which have got unfulfilled tourism and investment potential, providing significant tax benefits and incentives for doing business.

Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.23932/2542-0240-2020-13-1-5

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