Psychiatric patients not welcome in Naxos hospital
The new management board of the Naxos hospital has decided to stop admitting mentally unwell patients, due to the lack of a psychiatric unit in the hospital. An announcement that was posted in the corridors of the hospital in September stated that “mentally unstable patients will no longer be admitted to the hospital.” It also calls for the intervention of the district attorney in order to ensure that these cases are referred to psychiatric clinics in Athens. Responding to this announcement in a letter addressed to the Health Minister, the head of Klimaka (the mobile mental health unit of Naxos) Kyriakos Katsadoros argued that “the new director of the Naxos hospital is setting in motion a procedure which is correct from a legal standpoint, but such bureaucratic attitudes are not always appropriate. Naxian people must not be made to feel that the hospital cannot cope with these cases. There are people in Klimaka who are able to deal with a number of these cases.” His letter concludes by saying that positions such as these “set obstacles to the reform of the psychiatric system that has been underway in the country since the 1980s and stigmatises those who are mentally ill, denying them their rights.” Mr Labos, the new director of the hospital, stated that “when mentally unwell patients are admitted into a hospital that does not have a psychiatric unit it is dangerous both for them and for others. I have asked Mr Katsadoros to send us a psychiatrist whenever we admit such cases into the hospital, but he sends us psychologists who receive orders from psychiatrists over the phone. If there was a psychiatrist in the hospital I wouldn’t have any problem admitting mentally unwell patients. When a procedure is illegal, it cannot go on for ever.”
(To Vima tis Naxou 82/16-9)
Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Islands and Fisheries inaugurated
Following the autumn government shake-up and the delineation of new ministerial responsibilities, a new ministry was born when the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Islands and Fisheries came into existence, based in Piraeus. Its duties had previously been incorporated in the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Citizen Protection.
In a solemn ceremony, Minister Yiannis Diamantidis and undersecretary Elpida Tsouri were sworn into office. After the ceremony the new minister announced the following goals for his ministry: 1) To increase the number of merchant ships flying the Greek flag, 2) to see that the voice of the Greek maritime sector is heard around the world, 3) to modernise maritime education, 4) to modernise the country’s ports through a Kallikratis-style reform of the port authorities and to promote cooperation with ferry companies, 5) to increase the number of cruises, 6) to protect fishermen’s income while conserving marine ecosystems, 7) to create a Greek shipping bureau and 8) to promote the development of the islands.
Tsouri noted: “We are living in historic times. The creation of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs shows the interest shared by the government and the Prime Minister in the maritime sector.”
Elections are receding, the crisis is arriving…
While our local rulers are busy trying to gather as many councillors and votes as they can for the forthcoming elections, the important question about how to deal with the crisis is left aside. Mayoral candidates and prospective municipal councillors seem to be concerned about what will happen on 7 November. Yet the real question is what is going to happen after this date. The tourist season that we have just left behind us offered small pickings for the majority of tourism professionals and the outlook for next year seems to be equally dim. Do candidates realize that November, the month of elections, is a crucial month for the booking of holiday packages for next year? What actions have they taken to safeguard the interests of the tourism sector? The real fear is that we will spend all our energy trying to get elected, only to face a deepening crisis once the elections are over. The more we delay taking necessary measures to improve our tourism product, the deeper the crisis will get. Yet what suggestions have our political candidates offered on ways to improve our services or diversify the tourism product? These seem to be of great importance to the tourism sector, more so than other factors, such as price levels or the island’s infrastructure. Tourism is a volatile sector where nothing can be taken for granted; complacency is a bad guide. That is why those who are taking the decisions for the island’s future should realize that we need an effective marketing strategy to promote our island. The crisis that we are going through is the offspring of the global downturn, but is also the result of wrong policies and missed opportunities. The sooner we realize this the better it will be for Naxos.
Coffee shops and restaurants not happy with anti-smoking law
In an open letter dated 10 October addressed to the Prime Minister and a number of MPs, the association of cafes and bar owners ‘Naxos Hospitality’ lashed back at the anti-smoking law that came into force in September. In its letter the association complained about the impact of the law on local business. It states: “We are experiencing a fragmented holiday season this year. The financial crisis has translated into a reduced number of customers. Visitors to our island were 30% less compared to last year… but we did not lay off any of our staff who were employed for four months, rather than the two month period of our actual staff needs. We reduced the prices of our products and have absorbed the VAT hikes… now we are told to come into confrontation with our customers, whom we have fought so hard to attract. We are asked to put an end to Greek habits and to inculcate new mores, something which is the responsibility of others. You are asking us to rupture our relationships with our customers. Why? Why are you passing the buck onto coffee and restaurant owners and not tobacco makers?” Nevertheless, thoughts of filing against the anti-smoking law in the State Council (STE) were dropped when it transpired that the legal process would be lengthy (it would take 4-5 years before a decision is announced) and it would most likely not be in favour of coffee shop and restaurant owners.
(To Vima tis Naxou 84/30-9 & Kykladiki 2356/12-10)
NAXOS MAYORAL CANDIDATE WITHDRAWS
On 19 October, the party Sympoliteia Naxou & Mikron Kykladon (Naxos & Minor Cyclades Partnership) and their mayoral candidate Thanasis Grillakis announced that they wished to inform their fellow Naxians that their party will not participate in the municipal elections of November. They stated that “this is due to an inability to enroll a sufficient number of candidates to enable us to stand as a reliable political alternative in the municipal elections and to empower us to offer solutions to the accumulated problems of the island.” (www.naxos-news.gr/19-10)
Hunting in the Park
Tourists strolling in the park of Ai-Yiannis Detis at the end of September were alarmed by the sound of gunshots echoing through the Park. Their peace shattered, they sped back to the Park’s offices on the beach of Monastiri, only to be informed that the hunting season had just begun! Strange though it may sound, hunting is not prohibited in the Environmental and Cultural Park of Ai-Yiannis Detis.
As of the beginning of September hunters are busy hunting hares on the slopes and mountains of Paros. When contacted about the incident, Mr Iordanis, president of the hunting society on the island, said that he will inform his fellow hunters about the incident and would advise them either to refrain from hunting in the Park or to visit it only during certain hours of the day. He expressed his willingness to find a compromise solution that will satisfy both hikers and hunters of the island.
(Foni tis Parou 126/24-9)
Curtains fall for Cine Paros
The nights we used to spend sitting in front of the big screen at the open-air cinema of Cine Paros, watching a movie and munching roasted pasatempo seeds, have sadly come to an end. The cinema’s owners, Yiorgos and Athanasia Pulostomos, have decided to call it a day, citing dwindling revenue and the approach of old age.
It’s a pity that the younger generation doesn’t seem to be particularly interested in movie theatres and that other forms of entertainment seem to appeal to them instead. Those of us who belong to the older generation are left with fond memories of starlit nights when we would go to Cine Paros and enjoy watching classic films that left an imprint on our minds – Doctor Zhivago, Notre Dame, Gone with the Wind, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – all some of the finest moments of Cine Paros. In those days, the owners tell us, the cinema would draw crowds of up to 600 people cramming into the cinema’s open area and trying to find a seat. When no seat could be found, they would bring their own chairs or sit on crates. On days when the cinema screened films that were unsuitable for the younger audiences, children would climb on the cinema’s walls or reserve a place on the overlooking balconies. But those days are gone. The Pulostomos family has decided to turn a leaf in their life’s book and Cine Paros is now up for sale. The curtains have fallen, but life’s momentum propels us forward.
(Foni tis Parou 126/24-9)
Grateful Paroikia patient returns life-saving drug
A touching story unfolded at the end of September when an Israeli couple and their three children visited the municipality of Paros to return an anti-clotting medication on behalf of a friend of theirs, Nouri Berman, who had been administered the drug in the Paroikia health centre on 9 June after she suffered a stroke. The medication helped save Berman’s life and she was subsequently taken to an Athens hospital where she remained for a few days before returning to her native Israel. In order to thank her doctor, cardiologist Androne Gabriel, as well as the medical staff of the Paroikia health centre for their successful intervention, 56 year-old Berman decided to donate a fresh capsule of the expensive drug (which costs 1500 euros) to the health centre, as the only such drug available there was the one that had been administered to her on the day. Paros mayor, Christos Vlachoyiannis, received the Israeli couple and their children, as well as cardiologist Gabriel in the town hall and, after thanking them for their offer, said that it is important for the health centre’s work to be recognised. He emphasised that although the centre is suffering staff shortages and a variety of other problems, this is somewhat offset by the efforts that are made by its staff and doctors. Berman, who was listening to the conversation over the phone from Israel, expressed her gratitude towards the medical staff at the health centre and says she hopes to return to Paros in the future.
(Foni tis Parou 127/1-10)
Wind power generators revisited
Following the release of a second press release by the Cultural Society of Kamares on the issue of the wind power generators that have been installed on the Kamares plateau, Foni tis Parou contributor Dimitris Meremetis felt obliged to express his disagreement with the views expressed by the society. In his view, the wind generators bear a close resemblance to windmills, which is not an unfamiliar sight in the Cyclades. He also doubted that the generators disturb the goats grazing nearby or obstruct farmers from tending to their farms. As for allegations that they interfere with TV reception, he said that the coming of digital TV will solve that problem too. He also noted that the power plant in Santa Maria makes a lot of noise, has a huge chimney that can been seen from as far away as Naxos, emits fumes that have an unpleasant smell and blacken the sky on days when there is no wind. The presence of the power plant close to Naoussa, he argues, depreciates land values in the area and might even be responsible for contaminating local farmland with sulphur from the factory’s chimney. The factory itself is a far from pleasant sight and, all in all, energy produced from plants that burn fossil fuel leaves a lot to be desired.
(Foni tis Parou 127/1-10)
Burglary in Antiparos raises concerns over residents’ safety
The burglary of an Antiparian house on 3 October raised a number of questions about safety and highlighted the diminishing sense of security shared by many residents of the island. An open letter from Yiannis Triantafyllos, the victim of the break-in, that was addressed to MPs, local and regional government bodies and police authorities and circulated to local media, explains how the perpetrators broke into his house when he was out and got away with stolen money and jewellery. He hopes his family will be the last victim of robbery on the island. His letter goes on to state: “I wish to criticise the indifferent attitude displayed by the Greek state and the Ministry of Citizen Protection in staffing the police station of Antiparos. It is unthinkable for a tourism destination like Antiparos to lack a properly staffed police station that can enforce law and order on the island. One cannot seriously believe that three men, one of whom is permanently away on sick leave, can effectively police the whole island around the clock without even having a basic police car. In the summer the island’s population exceeds 6,000 people, while the number of port authority employees on the island is just six or seven individuals... I believe that the new Antiparos municipality that will be formed by the Kallikratis reform deserves a bolstered and adequately staffed police station.”
(Foni tis Parou 129/15-10)
Ban on cars on the seafront
The local authority’s decision to keep cars off the paraliaki (seafront road) along the section that stretches from the Paroikia port windmill to the tavern of Boundaraki during the summer months turned out to be a decision that was only partially put into practice. The port treasury hired two workers during the summer who were responsible for placing and removing two metal stands at the entrance and exit to the paraliaki. The road was deemed to be closed to traffic from 7pm to 7am every day until 30 September. However, the port authority employees were discharged of their duties at the end of August and from that time onwards there was confusion about whether cars were allowed to drive along the seafront or not. Visitors out for an evening stroll along the paraliaki mingled with cars that dodged surprised pedestrians. Certain municipal councillors took it upon themselves to put the metal stands in their place, but all of a sudden the stands disappeared! At first drunk drivers were held responsible for their disappearance, but it soon emerged that the stands had been placed out of sight behind the KTEL bus station booth. Then, on 21 September, councillor Yiorgos Karatzas got involved in an altercation with a shop owner in the area, Manolis Gemeliaris, who objected to Karatzas putting the stands back in their place. Gemeliaris told him to stop and to “refrain from policing the area.” After this incident Karatzas wrote a letter to Mayor Vlachoyiannis complaining about the situation and asking him to support the enforcement of this measure and to see that the ban on cars is enforced till the end of September.
(Ta Nea Parou-Antiparou 441/25-9)
Ilias Kountromichalis withdraws from mayoral race
On 15 October Ilias Kountromichalis, mayoral candidate for the party H Paros Mas Enonei (Paros Unites Us) announced he is withdrawing from the mayoral campaign, citing the fact that many Parians, especially the young people, showed little interest to get involved in local politics. There has been a general devaluation of politics in this country, he noted, which meant that since he was unable to enroll a sufficient number of candidates to run for his party, he decided to withdraw from the race. He wished the remaining candidates the best of luck and expressed his hope that the election period will unfold in a peaceful and civilized manner. He also thanked all those who showed their support for his party.
Journalist Christos Karagianniotis, founder of one of the first radio stations of the Cyclades, has died at the age of 48. HXΩ FM 102,1 (Radio Echo) was a favourite station of Parians and Antiparians who used to listen to Christos’ entirely personal manner of presenting and commenting on the news, as well as his great selection of music. Sadly, he left the family of Cycladic journalists very early. May you continue broadcasting your news programmes wherever you are, Christos.